Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hand Carved and Scrimshawed Knitting Sheath

Dave has always been fascinated with making reproductions of early period pieces, particularly pieces made by sailors. Scrimshaw knitting needle sheaths were among the many things sailors made for their wives and sweethearts back home.

Dave hand carved this 7 inch knitting sheath out of Oregon Myrtlewood. He made it for the traditional right side fitting. He had noticed that many of the early period sheaths had more narrow slots for apron strings to hold the sheath but I made this one with a wider slot to fit up to a ¾ inch waist band or belt. The top of the sheath is fitted with ancient Russian mammoth ivory as well as the color scrimshaw center piece. The needle hole in the top is drilled to accept a 5.00mm US size 8 knitting needle.

The purpose of the knitting sheath was to take the weight of the work and prevent the stitches from slipping off the bottom of a double-ended needle. These sheaths had a hole bored through the center in which the needle nearest on the right, fitted. These knitting sheaths would be worn on the right side of the body, at an angle. They were tucked into the waist band or held under the arm. In the sheath would be placed the bottom of the right hand knitting needle which was held rigid, leaving the left hand to work the yarn on the other needle. Knitting sheaths were used throughout Europe and the British Isles during the 18th. and 19th. centuries. Some were refined and exotic being made from a variety of materials including amber, porcelain, ivory, silver and brass etc. The majority were made from a range of available woods. Many were crudely carved gifts or love tokens, bearing the name of the recipient sometimes with a date and a heart or other symbol.

This item is currently up for auction on Ebay. If you would like to see larger photos, please click the link below.

Hand Carved and Scrimshawed Knitting Sheath Auction on