Knitted Gloves as Favours
an Article by the Fibre Guild of Lochac; View All Articles
During the SCA period, favours were given as a token of esteem or patronage, and often took the form of a piece of clothing or jewellery; a personal item which could easily be removed from one's person and given to a favourite person. Favours used in period were often ribbons or sashes, sleeves from a dress, a glove, a handkerchief, a piece of jewellery, or very 'personal' items such as a shift or undertunic 1.
Figure 1 shows a detail of a painting of the 3rd Earl of Cumberland, painted in approximately 1590 by Hilliard, the premier miniaturist of Elizabeth's court. The miniature shows the Earl in his role as Queen's Champion of the Tilt, and it should be noted that he wears a glove pinned to the front of his hat as a favour 2. This shows the suitability of gloves as favours for members of the Queen's Guard.
Queen Elizabeth was given many pairs of gloves as gifts, and was particularly fond of perfumed gloves 3. The gloves could be presented with great ceremony, as part of a Royal progress, or as New Year gifts.
Another example of a glove used as a favour was a knitted glove belonging to Sten Svanseson Sture, who died in 1565, and whose relics were preserved in Uppsala cathedral. The intricately knitted glove was attached to his hat, and is very small, indicating that it was made for a girl, and has the words 'Frevchen Sofia' knitted across the palm of the hand, so it is assumed that the glove was from his fiancee, Sofia 4 (Figure 2).
The glove is made from silk, and has patterns in a beige background, and bands of light orange, pale green, white, yellow and maroon, as well as stripes of gold on the fingers, to imitate gold rings. The thumb is a 'peasant' style thumb, as it has no gores or shaping, and it is inserted into a single row of knitting. All of the fingers start at the same level, although they differ in circumference and length. The glove is quite small, measuring only 17cm in length and 7cm across the palm. It is knitted at a gauge of 9 stitches/cm (approximately 22 stitches/inch).
A much simpler 16th century knitted hand covering is a child's mitten, which is white with a simple black and white pattern around the wrist4. A photograph of it (and a child's stocking and shirt) can be seen at the Museum of London website 5.
This article was originally published in the Guild Newsletter for Twelfth Night Crown, A.S. XXXIX
The most recent Guild Meeting was at Rowany Festival, A.S. XXXVIII
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