HSF 5 – Peasants and Pioneers: A pouch for fires

Sew fortnightlyOk, I’ll have to admit that due to a long-weekend southern trip I didn’t finish this one on time for the deadline yesterday. But today it’s done, and I’m giving a wink to the previous challenge of Embellishment as well.

I’ve told you a bit about the project and the history of the twined knitting in the mid-north western farming parts of Sweden in the previous posts, but today you’ll see the finished work as well as some progress pictures. Women had the original pouches for fire making tools in the skirt pockets, and the twined knitted examples were embroidered in a free-hand style. Usually the pouches were made by leather, but two twined knitted examples are known from Gagnef Minnesstuga (see the registrations here, press Ctrl+F to search and type GM 806 or GM 1118. The registration is in Swedish though, but it shows a picture.) The date of the pouches is unknown, but they were given to the museum in 1922 and 1931 respectively, so they definitely fall in the time frame of the HSF. For better pictures I recommend page 68 in the book Tvåändsstickat by Birgitta Dandanell, Ulla Danielsson and Kerstin Ankert. But now, it’s time to move on to what I did:

The twined knitting, with two yarns and thin knitting needles.

The twined knitting, with two yarns and thin knitting needles.

It’s really difficult to get work shots when you have to take them yourself, but this is one of the few I’ve managed. The flap of my pouch is shorter than the flap of the original, as I was at risk of running out of yarn in the right colour.

The bottom of the pouch was knitted open and had to be sewn together.

Becoming a pouch

Becoming a pouch

Since it was made by woollen yarn, the opening could be controlled by wetting it and forming it into the right shape, with a slight felting. Then it was laid to dry on a kitchen towel close to a radiator, and the opening became much less prone to roll up. It was a better result than I thought it’d be, so I recommend not to skip this wetting and shaping stage!

The drying pouch with a very well behaved opening.

The drying pouch with a very well behaved opening.

When it had dried, it was time to embellish! As you know from this post, I’ve deviated a bit from the original embroidery, and instead I’ve chosen to look at other images in the above mentioned book and take free-hand inspiration from there. My inspiration might have been more from the fancier Sunday best gloves rather than the everyday objects like fire pouches though… It’s been much fun and I’m amazed that I never embellish things in general. (Though I have a sneaky suspicion that it has something to do with my last-minute-panic-time-management-skills…) I really liked my idea of never unpicking a made stitch, even though I had to remind myself of that rule once or twice. And here it is, all done, and without really catching the horror vacuui:

Finished pouch front

Finished pouch front

Since I have flint and steel, I’ll show the historic use of the pouch. You’ll also see a monogram, which is connected to my own farm-name and given names. The twined knitting research has been plentiful in county Dalarna, so the original pouches as well as the inspirations for the embroidery are all from that county. As my dad’s side of the family has lived there for generations (me and my brothers are born there too), we have the family farm-name (gårdsnamn in Swedish), which is still a tradition in Dalarna. This farm-name is put before the given names, which has given me quite a lot of trouble when being abroad, since the first name should be your first name….

Steel and flint peaking out

Steel and flint peaking out (the ”fnöske”, which was needed to keep the sparks glowing, is missing)

But fire making tools are not as essential for us nowadays as they were for people in the past. So the use I’ll put this to will be of the equivalent of fire making tools in our days.

More modern essentials

More modern essentials

For who among us leave the house without phone, money/credit card, driver’s licence or public transport cards?

Closed pouch

Back view of pouch tied close

Lessons learned:

  • Embellishment is fun! Do more of it!
  • Don’t skip the wetting and shaping part of twined knitting. Unless you’re in a real hurry to use the project and don’t have time to wait for it to dry.
The closed front

The closed front

The Twined Facts:

The Challenge: #5 Peasants and pioneers

Fabric: Not so much fabric as woollen twined knitwork.

Pattern: Made up from assumptions of the original and the measurements were redone to match a phone and driver’s licence.

Year: Unknown, but pre-1922. Possibly from the 19th century?

Notions: White and green bought woollen yarn. Blue, blue-green, green, brown and grayish-pink plant dyed, homespun woollen yarn. Knitting needles size 1.75 mm.

How historically accurate is it? 100 % historically possible. I’ve tweaked the measurements and changed the embroidery, but the free-hand style is preserved. The materials are all accurate.

Hours to complete: Many. And some more. I’m a slow twined knitter, and not really fast at embroidering either…

First worn: Not yet. But I’ll bring it out soon.

Total cost: All stash. And the most expensive thing was the indigo dye (Fun fact brackets: The blue colour was used by the farmers on e.g. twined knitted socks, though there are some preserved socks that show that the expensive dye shouldn’t be wasted on the parts that weren’t visible, so those parts were sewn together before the socks were dyed!)

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