Stuff I Do

Dutch Renaissance Part 1

While the Dutch garb is a bit in the future, I’m getting started now because I happen to have all the supplies on hand to start the most time intensive part: knitting my stockings.

There are a couple of design considerations and historical notes to take into account here. The first, and most important is that I plan to wear my garb with klompen.

There’s some evidence that klompen were worn contemporarily to the clothing I’ll be designing. This image, from 1552, seems to show klompen in the lower right corner.  Were they in widespread use? It’s not certain, as there have been extant remains found of more “Elizabethan” shoes as well. However, I want to wear klompen, so it’s good enough for me.

The Egg Dance 1552

This is a good time to clarify my approach to historical costuming. Rather than strive for as close as I can get to “historical accuracy” using modern materials and techniques, I strive for “historical suggestion.” That is, I want my costumes to clearly suggest a time period. In this case, if I want to suggest “Dutch renaissance,” the klompen are an immediate visual cue.

There’s similar scanty evidence that stockings were regularly knitted around the timeframe I’m looking at. This image is a portrait from 1616, for example. However, while one of the earliest examples of knitted stockings were worn by Eleanora of Toledo in 1562, it’s hard to tell if they were at all widespread during this time. It’s still very much a transition period between sewn and knitted hose.  (A Bluestocking Knits has a great post on the issue, as well as their example of modern stockings.)

Dutch Merchant 1616

Regardless of the historicity, however, I am not wearing sewn stockings.  I’ll be knitting stockings to wear in my klompen. Is this what the Dutch wore? Again, there’s no certainty. When Shoryl and I had the opportunity to talk to a re-enactor at the Dutch Village in Holland, MI, she mentioned that they wore lots and lots of socks with their klompen.

I do not want to wear lots and lots of socks. My current approach is to knit thick wool stockings to wear in my klompen.  I’ve swatched some Knit Picks Swish Worsted undyed on size 4/5 needles.

Stocking swatch

Why size 4/5? Well, if you look at the swatch, you’ll see DPNs in two different colors. I originally went into my stash to find size 5’s, only to discover I only had 2 of them.  (This is a ridiculously odd number of DPNs to have.)  I also had 3 size 4 DPNs though, so I grabbed those five needles and set to work. It’s actually possible to knit perfectly well on two different sizes of DPNs; because the needles spiral around as you use them, the different in size will be absorbed equally across all needles, giving me an average gauge slightly larger than I would get on a size 4. As you can see in the swatch, the difference isn’t at all noticeable.

The swatch has been given a bath and tossed into the bottom of my purse to see how it stands up to wear.  Next time: math!