The Tudor Tailor is joining forces with the prestigious Centre for Textile Research (CTR) in Denmark to study 16th century knitting. Jane has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship to work with the University of Copenhagen team for two years. She beat fierce competition to win the €212,000 grant – for which there were 7,472 proposals from disciplines as diverse as astrophysics and zoology in 2014. Jane joins an elite group of 90 UK researchers packing their bags to study abroad.

The Tudor Tailor is participating in the Knitting History Forum‘s study day on Saturday 14 November 2015 at the London College of Fashion, where Jane will introduce her research and appeal for knitters to help design her research questions, test the data, and knit prototypes.

The research project focuses on more than 100 knitted caps from the early modern era in museum collections worldwide – an astonishing number given the paucity of extant garments from the period. Despite their diverse locations, they have remarkable similarities in their materials and manufacture. Jane’s research will take advantage of cutting-edge scientific study techniques (including radiocarbon dating, microscopic examination, x-radiography, fibre and dye identification, and degradation analysis). She will also undertake interdisciplinary research into contemporary sources to chart an economic map of early knitting, to define terminology for further scholarly work, and to develop theory about men’s headwear in the 16th century.

An online database will make the research material, including photographs using polynomial texture mapping (PTM), accessible to scholars, museum educators and craftspeople. See Dinah Eastop’s blog on using this technique with lace. Journal articles, practical workshops and social media will disseminate the research conclusions and the development of theory. The project is known as KEME (Knitting in the Early Modern Era: materials, manufacture and meaning). A summary of the proposal evaluation is available here. It scored an exceptional 92 per cent for project planning. A blog, Facebook page and Ravelry group called Strickersvej (Knitters Way) launch next month, named after the route Jane cycles every day on her way to the CTR.

Jane is recruiting three groups of collaborators: people who have examined the archaeological evidence in museum collections first hand; reenactors and educators with experience of reconstructing knitted caps from interpretive media such as photographs and secondary sources; and keen knitters who are interested in the history of knitting. The CTR will be advertising for a paid postgraduate research assistant, who will work with Jane eight hours a week at the CTR. There are also opportunities for volunteers to accompany Jane on her field work to help with photography. Please let Jane know you are interested in joining her team by emailing jmalcolm-davies@hum.ku.dk.

Jane and Ninya’s next book The Typical Tudor will draw on this research to provide knitting instructions for everyday garments – a notable gap in The Tudor Tailor. These will build on patterns for boys’ headwear and babies’ clothing available in The Tudor Child thanks to collaboration with Lesley O’Connell Edwards, Sally Pointer and Ruth Gilbert.

Ruth has recently written Knitting Unravelled 1450-1983, which offers a practical guide for reenactors with helpful tips on appropriate equipment and garments to make for different eras. It is a welcome addition to the growing number of well-researched, specialist texts which provide a summary of the available evidence and how to interpret it for use at a costumed event. The Tudor Tailor is delighted to be offering Ruth’s book for sale at £5 plus P&P. Visit the online shop to find out more about it here.

Jane was headhunted by Professor Marie-Louise Nosch, director of CTR, after she gave a paper at the annual Northern European Symposium on Archaeological Textiles in Hallstatt, Austria in May 2014. This paper is now published in the conference papers.

Jane with her new colleagues at Roskilde Ship Museum, toasting their prowess at rowing and sailing two reconstructed Viking ships – powered by woollen and linen sails
Jane with her new colleagues at Roskilde Ship Museum, toasting their prowess at rowing and sailing two reconstructed Viking ships – powered by woollen and linen sails
Jane with her new roommate Susanne Lervad (middle), a textile terminologist, and Vivi Lena Andersen (left), shoe historian and curator at the Museum of Copenhagen, examining recently excavated leather items
Jane with her new roommate Susanne Lervad (middle), a textile terminologist, and Vivi Lena Andersen (left), shoe historian and curator at the Museum of Copenhagen, examining recently excavated leather items
Jane examining knitted caps found in Austrian mines, Goldzeche and Schmeide-Wintergasse, at the NESAT XII meeting in Halstatt (courtesy of Beatrix Nutz, University of Innsbruck)
Jane examining knitted caps found in Austrian mines, Goldzeche and Schmeide-Wintergasse, at the NESAT XII meeting in Halstatt (courtesy of Beatrix Nutz, University of Innsbruck)
Rachel Frost’s reconstruction of a split-brimmed cap found in a mine in Austria made for Beatrix Nutz (University of Innsbruck) based on Jane’s research
Rachel Frost’s reconstruction of a split-brimmed cap found in a mine in Austria made for Beatrix Nutz (University of Innsbruck) based on Jane’s research
Instructions for a schoolboy’s knitted coif cap developed by Sally Pointer in "The Tudor Child", based on Jane’s examination of three extant examples
Instructions for a schoolboy’s knitted coif cap developed by Sally Pointer in “The Tudor Child”, based on Jane’s examination of three extant examples
Ruth Gilbert’s "Knitting Unravelled" is available for £5 plus P&P from The Tudor Tailor
Ruth Gilbert’s “Knitting Unravelled” is available for £5 plus P&P from The Tudor Tailor