Monday, 14 December 2009

Broad Brimmed 'Monmouth' Caps

There has been a fair bit of debate in recent years as to whether the broad brimmed, heavy knitted cap popular from the late sixteenth century through early eighteenth century is more accurately described as a Monmouth Cap than the cap we are all familiar with. Not that there is anything wrong with the cap on display in the Neslon Museum in Monmouth, its accepted to be of the right date and to reflect a widespread style, and the excellent article about it by Kirstie Buckland remains one of the best articles about capping practices available-, its just getting it to match up with the written descriptions of Monmouth caps does show up a couple of possible issues, chief of which is that Monmouth Caps mentioned in the literature are typically about a pound in weight, something thats nigh on impossible to achieve when replicating the one from the museum.

As a result, there seems to be some good reasons to think that the broad brimmed version might be a challenger for this name, and the museum one might be better renamed the Monmouth Labourer's Cap. There is a very handy booklet available that goes into the current arguments for and against in the form of Monmouths and Monteroes. A confusion of caps. by Robert Morris available from Stuart Press.

Even more confusingly, for years, I and many other re-enactors and 'historic knitters' have tended to refer to this broad brimmed style as a 'Peter the Great' hat, after a famous surviving example in the Hermitage collection. Muddling, isnt it?

Whatever we end up calling it, and its entirely possible it will take a while for a generic name to settle on it, I've been working on different ways to reconstruct a plausible pattern of this very warm and useful hat, and here's the result that I feel gives the best result:
ptg before felting
This is it before fulling, and here it is after fulling and modelled by my trusty (and long suffering, this photo was taken when the hat was still wet on a rather chilly afternoon) stunt head, Gareth:
its now available as part of my range of historic hat patterns, all of which come with a brief discussion of the style and footnotes to provide references to supporting information, either in hardcopy through the shop at (£2.50) or as a Ravelry Download ($4).