17th C KNITTED NIGHTSHIRTS 
17th C nightshirts in Oslo, Norway        17thC nightshirts in Norway        17thC knitted silk jackets      
 
A 16th C (?) nightshirt         King Charles I's blue silk waistcoat worn at his execution in 1649   (keyword; blue,specific date ; 1649,id no: A27050)
One of the earliest pictorial documentations of knitted shirts is painted on an altar from Buxtehude, Germany d.1380. The Virgin Mary is seen knitting a shirt with 5 needles.
 
General constuction ;
-rectangular pieces / panels
-they would be sewn together later
-sleeves might either be knitted as a «tube» or as panels
 
General pattern ;
-the ground would be knitted in stocking stitch
-the pattern of gilded thread might be knitted in in purl stitch or stocking stitch
-the main pattern would be more or less naturalistic or stylize flowers and foliage
-the pattern might cover the whole garment or just parts of it
-borders along hem, neck and cuffs are not unusual
 
A knitted jacket or waistcoat in Germany ,attributed to Pfalzgrafen Otterich, dated to the middle of the 16thC, is knitted in solid colored, unbleached silk. The jacket differs in pattern and shape from other extant shirts / jackets in Europe. Shirts in european and american museums differ from shirts in Scandinavia. Though being called italian, there is some doubt about Italy being the origin of the knitted silk jackets.
 
NORWEGIAN AND SWEDISH KNITTED NIGHTSHIRTS
There are 11 known extant north scandinavian knitted nightshirts .Only 2 of them are made up of panels. The rest are knitted as «tubes».The sleeves are knitted as «tubes», with the exception of the 2 shirts made up of panels, here the sleeves are made up of panels too . The shape and pattern is basically the same. The shirts have been shaped to follow the body during the knitting. The «tube» shaped shirts have fake sideseams knitted in purl stitch.
 
Some of the nightshirts have been altered in lenght, width, at the neck opening or been converted to jackets.
PATTERN
The basic pattern consists of eight pointed stars (the eight leafed rose) in a lozenge / diamond pattern.
The ground is done in stocking stitch .
The pattern is done in purl stitch.
The shirts are knitted as «tubes» with 2 exceptions, where they are knitted as separate panels and sewn together later
All have a diaper or zigzag pattern across the chest, bellow the neck opening.
The yoke is either knitted with a diaper pattern or a block pattern.
The cuffs and welt are knitted in blocks using stocking and purl stitch
 
 
     
 
Charted pattern in excell. Knit with stocking stitch. All grey pattern is purl stitch.

Charts and a pattern for Charles 1's knitted waistcoat, can be found on Ravelry.
 
 
COLORS
10 of the shirts are monochrome , consisting of ;
3 bright green
3 norwegian shirts are bright red / crimson
the Gothenburg shirt likewise
5 shirts are blue
 
 
EMBROIDERY AND EMBELLISHMENTS
One of the green shirts are knitted as 2 panels with the 8 pointed star done in gold thread in purl stitch .

10 shirts are embroidered with gold and silver thread around the front of the neck opening / slit and the cuffs. Some have embroidery along the sleeves and shoulders too. There are some examples of spangles spread through the embroideries.

8 shirts have similar though not identical embroideries. The remaining shirts have different designs with a type of stitches well known in the period

10 of the shirts have a 3cm long pile on the inside of silk thread. The thread has been threaded through the stiches at the back in horizontal rows, 1 cm appart . The thread is usually of the same silk and color and has been added before the embroideries.

 
DETACHABLE SLEEVES
A SHORT HISTORY OF KNITTING IN NORWAY
- will be posted more soon (2nd of february 2006)
 
 
 
SOURCES
Of knitted "nightshirts" and detachable sleeves in Norway in the seventeenth century
Marta Hoffmann
Opera Textilia
Studies 8
ISBN 91-7192-742-5
 
 
Knitting and the use of knitted goods in Norway before 1700.
From archeological finds to documentary evidence.
Anne Kjeldsberg
Opera Textilia
Studies 8
ISBN 91-7192-742-5
 
Updated October 19th 2007 ; all broken links  fixed.