Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Historical Caps

This is an authentic Scots Bonnet, made by Gloria Holmes of 'Historical Caps'. I was going to put together a post on Gloria's work, but much better than any writing by me, is her own reply to my message to her, pasted below (all other pictures from her web site):
Scots Bonnet with Saltire Badge to show allegiance to the Stewart King James IV
I have been a 17th century re-enactor in William Gordon's Regiment of Foote, a Regiment who fought under Montrose and supported King Charles I during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, England, Scotland and Ireland in the 1640's. The Regiment is a member of the Sealed Knot Society.
Traditional Tam 'O' Shanter Bonnet
When I joined I noticed that there was a complete lack of good knitted headwear.  Most people in the Society sported cloth wool caps which were not totally authentic.  I found this strange as there was during the 16th/17th century a thriving industry in woolen caps, particularly hand knitted ones. Coming from Scotland myself, I surmised that with the weather being what it is, Scottish people would have worn knitted and heavily felted bonnets and caps as they were more practical and weatherproof.  I then started an investigation into the Blue Bonnet and found pictures of bonnets found in bogs or burials and could see that they were hand knitted and some retained their original colour.
Scots Bonnet with Saltire Badge to show allegiance to the Stewart King James IV
From this I studied the pictures and being a lifetime knitter I soon worked out the pattern and my bonnets were born.
I continued then to study other caps and hats from history and found I could produce them as well.
Statute Cap in Brown Herdwick
The history of the bonnet  is pretty vague.  It is thought that Scottish Mercenaries in Europe adopted the bonnet, which was then worn by clerics and scribes, and returned to Scotland with it. Why was is mainly blue?  It is thought that they used woad to dye the wool which in the early 16th was easy to come by as it was exported from France to Scotland and part of the trading link between that country and Scotland. This was part of the 'Auld Alliance' which had existed for centuries. The bonnets instantly marked soldiers as Scots when they raided the English border.
Full Brimmed Tudor (Statute) Cap
The bonnet was dyed in many colours by civilians and Scots used whatever plant was available in the Area. Gradually they added a Toorie ( Pom Pom) instead of the drawn in button top.  Over the decades the bonnet got smaller when adopted by Scots Regiments of the British Army and to this day thebonnet is still worn in various styles by the army.
Gloria in her studio
I have been running Historical Caps for the last 5 years.  I started selling to members of the Society. But now, since I created my website, I have been selling worldwide, to reenactors, museums, theatre and film companies.  I am still doing most of the spinning and knitting myself, but also buy ready spun wool, which I get dyed to colour I require.  I also have a lovely lady, who is a smashing knitter, to help me out as well at busy times.

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