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Not currently on display at the V&A

Petticoat

1700-1750 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This petticoat is an extraordinary feat of knitting skill unparalleled in any other known collection. We do not know exactly how it was made. It seems too large to have been produced by hand or on a knitting frame. The only other similar garment was a petticoat knitted in a variety of abstract patterns within a diamond-shaped grid. Sold at Christies auction house in 1981, it too dated from the early 18th century and had both Dutch and English connections.

The cream-coloured petticoat is knitted in two-ply wool, with surface decoration of animals, birds and trees. Among the more exotic creatures are an elephant, a lion, an ostrich and a rhinoceros. The motifs are knitted in purl and plain on a background of stocking stitch.

The petticoat is knitted in the round with no seams and has a circumference of over 3 metres at the widest point. Despite the large surface area, the pattern does not repeat.
read The history of hand-knitting While the origins of knitting are unclear, we know it has been practised in many different parts of the world, over many centuries, producing objects of great beauty as well as items fulfilling practical needs. When done by hand, it has used simple tools, such as hand-carved sticks of wood...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Hand knited in two ply wool
Brief Description
Petticoat knit of ivory wool, possibly Dutch, 1700-1750
Physical Description
The petticoat is in the form of a very wide, short cylinder of continuous knitting with a non-repeating pattern of a wide variety of animals, birds, insects and plants and one human figure. Knit continuously without seams with all devices made of knit and purl stitches or combinations of the two, with eyelets for the eyes against a ground of stocking stitch. Approximately 2,650 stitches were cast on and worked in a gauge of twenty-two stitches per inch.
Dimensions
  • Circumference: 305cm
  • Length: 76cm
Tension: 22 stitches per inch 9 stitches per cm
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
3. UNFINISHED PETTICOAT Hand-knitted two-ply worsted Dutch, 17th to early 18th century. The raised pattern of animals, birds and flowering trees is finely knitted in purl and combinations of plain and purl stitches against a stocking stitch ground. The petticoat was worked in the round (there are no seams) and has a circumference of 312 cms: the pattern does not repeat. The attribution of this piece to Holland is traditional - the Dutch were known for the excellence of their knitting. A comparable petticoat knitted in cotton, with a lattice pattern incorporating the date 1722, appeared recently in a London sales room. Bequeathed by Lt. Col. G.B.Croft Lyons FSA T.177-1926(1985)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Lt. Col. G. B. Croft-Lyons FSA
Historical context
An extraordinary feat of knitting skill, this object is unparalleled in any other known collection. The exact means by which it was created are not clear, seeming too large for either hand or frame production. The only other similar garment sold at Christies in 1981, a petticoat knitted in a variety of abstract patterns within a diamond shaped grid. It too dated from the early 18th century and had both Dutch and English connections.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This petticoat is an extraordinary feat of knitting skill unparalleled in any other known collection. We do not know exactly how it was made. It seems too large to have been produced by hand or on a knitting frame. The only other similar garment was a petticoat knitted in a variety of abstract patterns within a diamond-shaped grid. Sold at Christies auction house in 1981, it too dated from the early 18th century and had both Dutch and English connections.



The cream-coloured petticoat is knitted in two-ply wool, with surface decoration of animals, birds and trees. Among the more exotic creatures are an elephant, a lion, an ostrich and a rhinoceros. The motifs are knitted in purl and plain on a background of stocking stitch.



The petticoat is knitted in the round with no seams and has a circumference of over 3 metres at the widest point. Despite the large surface area, the pattern does not repeat.
Bibliographic References
  • Hinchcliffe, Frances (ed.), Knit One, Purl One : Historic and Contemporary Knitting from the V&A's Collection. V&A, London, 1985
  • Historical Fashion in Detail The 17th and 18th Centuries
Collection
Accession Number
T.177-1926

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record createdFebruary 16, 1999
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