July 11, 2010

Godey's Lady's Book Opera Hood: Knitting in the Middle of the Summer!

Opera hoods, were also known as traveling hoods. These were worn at night for warmth and modesty. It was better than wearing a bonnet because in carriages, your bonnet or hat is likely to be blown off. They also could be made fancier to add excitement to a dress as most people only had a few dresses and accessories and adornments were used to give an outfit a new feel. 

I knitted this awhile ago but I never posted photos. It took forever to knit the first bit of it at 220 stitches a row! It is not very difficult, I am not a very good knitter and I found that this was simple enough. It is really nice for those cold nights especially when we get to those September and October reenacting events. If you are a slow knitter like me, I  recommend starting you knitting now, in the middle of the summer, so you have the things you want already finished in the winter.

The pattern can be found free at Ephemeral Chaos. It has a lot of great tips especially for beginning knitters. It really helped me a lot. I like wearing this at night, it lets you see more than a bonnet allows and is very toasty!
I couldn't take a picture of the whole thing myself but the two bottoms end in enormous yarn tassels. They give the whole thing a wintery, warm look. I absolutely love it! If you are going to make one try to find a color that matches a few of your dresses so you can mix and match items. People back then weren't as consented with "matching" like we do today. They liked vibrant colors and color combination and fabrics that we think are "gaudy" today.    

Here is another pattern for an opera hood. This one is from Peterson's Magazine from 1858, it is fancier than the one I made and It looks to be a relatively quick knit. I am working on a fancy opera hood now that includes beads. I hope to post a tutorial on it soon. I have to figure out the best way to net with the beads. So far it looks like a knitted dishcloth. I hope the beads will make it look a lot nicer.


  1. Beautiful! Hope to see you Thursday(?) We have CHOCOLATE....

  2. Ooooh Chocolate! And it's not just any chocolate--it's from the other side of the world chocolate right? :D

  3. Looks fabulous! I'm definitely a slow knitter too. . . Better get started!

  4. Thanks, Sophia. Have you posted anything you have knitted?

  5. Stephanie how lovely! I was just saying the other day that I have never seen an up close picture of you and here you are! :) You are beautiful and the hood is lovely! Red is one of my favorite colors! a great choice for your complexion. Bethany is teaching me to knit, but I have to say I am not catching on too well. Hopefully by the fall I will be good enough at it to knit a scarf for our next cold event in October. You have inspired me to try and get better at knitting.

    I loved seeing on of your projects! I am posting another project today I just completed for civil war living history. Do come on over and read!

    In Christ,

  6. Rebecca, Thank you so much. I really just don't like my picture taken. I always enjoy reading your blog. I love seeing all of your projects. Your quilts are amazing! Knitting is pretty easy when you get the hang of it, I am in no way an expert and I stick to fairly simple patterns but I do like the result. Not many people knit anymore.

  7. How exciting! I'm so glad you liked the pattern. Let me know if you have suggestions for improving it.

  8. Deborah, thank you so much for the instructions. I was thinking of putting on my matching dress but it is just far too hot here! I have a lot of period knitting patterns if you ever feel like posting modern instructions for them. I am not advanced enough to translate them like you can. I think a lot of reenactors would like that. Thanks again for the pattern.

  9. A comment from Atlanta:


    Since I'm unable to comment on your blog - I just wanted to write a quick note to say how much I love that opera hood you just posted about! It's so adorable cute! I'm totally in love - and am determined to learn how to knit. :^) That dusty rose color is one of my favorites, too!

    anyway - I just had to gush for a moment. Thanks so so much for posting!


    Thanks so much Atlanta!


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