A Traditional Nightingale
Ring in the New Year with PieceWork’s 11th annual Historical Knitting issue! As always, this issue is packed with fascinating knitting stories and projects from around the world. Learn more about the history of the nineteenth-century wrap that became known as “The Nightingale.” Did Florence Nightingale ever actually knit a Nightingale? Heather (Vaughan) Lee reveals more about this intriguing garment.
The Nightingale is a simple rectangular garment which was often knitted, crocheted, or constructed from fabrics such as flannel. Traditionally, the Nightingale was worn to cover the shoulders in bed. A pattern for a knitted Nightingale appeared in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 6, published in London in 1891. Heather’s Knitted Nightingale, featured in the January/February 2017 issue of PieceWork, is based on the Weldon’s pattern. However, this modern interpretation is scaled to fit the contemporary woman’s proportions: Heather’s version is large enough to cover a woman’s back from shoulder to hip, yet maintains all of the vintage charm of the Weldon’s original.
Knit in lovely hand-dyed merino wool, this cozy jacket re-creates the look of Nightingales from the 1850s with wide lapels that add a second layer of warmth to the neck and chest. The long dolman sleeves and loose fit offer ease of movement when worn as a top layer on those chilly nights. The crocheted scalloped edge and the accent of bows at the nape of the neck and wrists add a feminine touch in keeping with the Victorian era. This is a garment you will want to wrap yourself up in when the weather outside is frightful.
Re-created for the modern era, the appeal of the Nightingale endures. Uncover more about the history of the Nightingale plus much more in the January/February 2017 issue of PieceWork. Cast on a Nightingale of your own, plus there are six other knitting projects inspired by knitting’s rich history.
Happy New Year!
Featured Image: A Nightingale from Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Sixteenth Series (included in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 6, published in London in 1891). This engraving shows the garment “open flat.” Collection of PieceWork.