Tuesday, June 03, 2008

They Didn't Do That, Did They?

One of the reasons I started blogging was my exhaustion over battling with the doyennes of Civil War knitting about what was and was not done.

Now mind you, I agree with them on a lot of things, but they were tending to speak in absolutes and not back up their claims with specific research.

Of course, it's almost impossible to prove a negative and there's long been a question over what kinds of fiber were available to Civil War knitters. We know there was wool and cotton and silk, but beyond that there's been a general consensus that other fibers (angora, alpaca, mohair, etc.) were out. The thought was that one could buy alpaca fabric for example, but not alpaca yarn.

I've recently been reading an 1859 sales catalogue from Aldridge & Co., a Philadelphia dry goods store and noticed the following entry under "Hosiery":
  • Children's White Cashmere Socks, and 3/4 Hose, British
We're long past the time of bag hose, made out of cloth, so this is clearly a knitted item. Still, some questions remain
  • Is the fiber available to the home knitter?
  • Are these machine knit?
More to come ...


Anonymous said...

I've seen several references to angora in La Mode Illustree, that French needlework magazine from which I translate knitting & crochet patterns. Angora was used to create a fluffy trim on gloves and muffs. Of course I can't prove that American women had access to angora, but it was definitely used on the Continent!


7-letter Deborah, never a Deb said...

I know this, and you know this, but convincing the doyennes? As you know, unlikely. I'll be putting up more surprises from the catalogue in the next few days.