Knitting the Gunnister Pouch

THL Lucia Thaylur

Gunnister Pouch from the Proceedings of the Society, 1951-2
My pouch knit from handspun

Materials required:

Yarn-3 colors. I started with app 50 gram ball of brown handspun wool and small amounts of natural white and hand dyed red. The Proceedings describe the yarn for the pouch: "The wool is soft and has a coarser fibre mixed with it and yarn is rather unevenly spun 2 ply Z twist. The color is now a dull brown, but was probably a natural mixed grey with a pattern of red and white." (p38) If using commercial yarn a medium shawl weight lace yarn would probably work well. Set of five needles-as necessary to obtain gauge. I used size 4(0000) Gauge of extant pouch is 11.5 stitches and 16 rows per inch on stocking stitch.
Finished size of extant piece: 5.25 long x 3.75 inches across.

These directions have been compiled using directions from 17th Century Knitting Patterns as adapted for Plimoth Plantation and from Proceedings of the Society, 1951-52.

Before starting, please read both versions of how to begin the pouch and choose the method that works for you.

From Plimoth Plantation:

With main color cast on 6 stitches. With a separate hook-chain 7 stitches and place the last loop of the chained strand onto the needle holding the cast on stitches. Repeat cast on 6 , make 7 stitch chain and adding the last loop of the chained stitch to the needle holding cast on stitches until you have a total of 84 stitches . Add I extra cast on stitch for a total of 85. (Gunnister purse)

From Proceedings of the Society:

The loops at the top edge occur every sixth stitch, and consist of a single row of chained loops as might be made with a crochet hook. It looks as if the 6 stitches were cast on, and with the same thread a chain of 7 loops made, the last loop being knitted together with the 6th cast on stitch, repeat process. (p 39)

Divide onto 4 needles if not already done (should have 3 needles with 21 stitches and one needle with 22 stitches). Adjust the math to use fewer needles .

From the Proceedings:

Ribbing: 3 knit, 2 purl (add 1 stitch) somewhere on first round. Continue until ribbing is 2".

Upper band: With 2nd color knit one round.xxxxxxxxxxxx
Use 2nd & 3rd colorsoxxooxxooxxorepeat
Knit 15 rounds of main color
Middle band Use 2nd and 3rd colorsoooooooooooo
oxxooxxooxxorepeat 2 more times
repeat 1st round
Knit 5 rounds of ground color
Lower band. Use 2nd and 3rd colorsxxxxxxxxxxxx
xooxxooxxooxrepeat 3 more times
repeat 1st round

The knitting is finished by dividing the stitches into 2 groups and grafting together. (p 38-39)

Three needle bind-off:

Divide stitches onto 2 needles.  Hold needles together in a parallel position. Using the 3rd needle,  knit into first stitch on both needles as one stitch and slip off. Knit into the next st on both needles (as one stitch) and slip off. You now have 2 stitches on the 3rd needle. Lift the first stitch over the second . Continue until all stitches are off the needles. Run tail thru the last stitch and pull tight.

Finishing details:

From the Proceedings: "the top of the purse was drawn up by a double cord running through loops. The cord is a plait of three made from a double strand of the main color knitting yarn. Tassels made of a mixture of the three colors of wool are sewn to the middle and corners of the bottom of the purse"( p.38)

Works cited:

17th Century Knitting Patterns as adapted for Plimoth Plantation. Monograph One. The Weavers Guild of Boston, Mass. 1978. Weavers Guild of Boston

Proceedings of the Society, 1951-52. "Clothing and other articles from a late 17th C. Grave at Gunnister, Shetland". Personal copy obtained from the Society.

Last updated: 11/8/2008