by Chris Laning
These instructions are for a modern reproduction of the knitted woolen pouch found with the Gunnister bog burial, unearthed in 1951. The purse contained coins of the late 1600s.
I have adapted this pattern from information contained in A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt and in 17th Century Knitting Patterns by The Weaver’s Guild of Boston (unfortunately out of print). I then checked the pattern with a researcher who has seen and studied the original purse and corrected it accordingly.
At 12 sts/inch, the finished size is about 3 1/2 by 5 inches.
These instructions give a very close, but not quite stitch for stitch, replica of the original. The original pouch is knit at a slightly finer gauge, about 14 sts/inch, and with more stitches
(about 98) so it comes out the same size. The ribbing pattern and color pattern repeats are also not perfectly regular as they are in these instructions.
With fine gray-brown Shetland yarn (a bit lighter than fingering yarn), and needles that give you a gauge of approximately 11 to 12 sts/inch, cast on 85 stitches on three or four needles. (This will likely require a needle size close to 1.75mm/US size 00.)
If you want to reproduce the purse exactly, use its rather peculiar cast-on. To do this, cast on 4, take the last loop onto a small crochet hook and chain 7, fastening the last chain to the first and putting the loop back on the knitting needle. Cast on 4 more and repeat. (You can of course do the chaining with a knitting needle, but it’s easier with a hook.)
Work around in K3, p2 ribbing for 2 inches. Work 1 row of purl all around, adding three stitches to make 88.
The rest of the purse is in stockinette with no shaping: just follow the color chart, starting at the top.
At the end of the chart, before the last red row, fold the knitting flat and cast off the two sides together in red to close the bottom. Braid a cord out of three 2-strand pieces of the main color. Add tassels.
This pattern is covered by a Creative Commons license. It is copyright by Chris Laning, 2007. Copies of the pattern, and the purse, may be made for nonprofit educational use only. This copyright notice must be included. Thank you!