Published: 25 August 2017

1962 Lumbercoat - modernised

Matching lumbercoats Matching lumbercoats My last blog was about a lumbercoat my Mum knitted for me in 1962. It was out of sight and out of mind for many years - for some years it was in a plastic bag in a garage. When it came to light again, and I later found the references to it in my mother's diary I decided to donate it to Shetland Museum but wanted to knit a similar lumbercoat to fit the size I am now.

I found very similar colours at Jamieson's of Shetland and knitted the larger one in this photo. Some things I changed. I put some shaping at the sides and instead of button and buttonhole bands I knitted the front edgings and neck in one - very long - piece working half of the hearts pattern. Where the neck and front met I had to mitre the corners, and do the same in reverse for the linings which encase the steek. I like the shaped sleeve tops so kept them but instead of working steeks between underarm and shoulder, and on the sleeves, I knitted the body and sleeves to the armholes then worked the body top and sleeve tops together, continuing the centre front steek and, to begin with, worked decreases on both the body and sleeve tops. Just before I reached the shoulder I put the remaining sleeve stitches on hold, cast on steeks and finished the body. The live sleeve stitches were then grafted to stitches made from the edge of the steek. Unlike my mother I shaped the front neck as I knitted; she cut out the front neck afterwards. Neither of us shaped the back neck or the shoulder tops. I fasten the lumbercoat with hooks and eyes. 

When the lumbercoat was new I blocked it over a piece of heavy duty lino. Lino works well as it is fairly easy to cut. I started by temporarily joining the body into a tube. Next I laid it on top of the lino and drew around the shape, slightly larger than the newly knitted garment. Once I had cut the shape of this blocking form, I checked that it was not too big. I washed and gave the lumbercoat a short spin the the washing machine. The lino was rolled, pushed into the centre, then the sleeve parts of the lino unfurled into the centre of the knitted sleeves. This worked well except that the lino kept wanting to roll up so I had to keep turning and to keep it as flat as I could. 

The next times I washed it I pinned it on the washing line - pegged at underarms. Wool doesn't need to be washed frequently so it's not had too many washes. Before donating the old lumbercoat to the Museum I washed and 'boarded' it, so decided to wash the newer one at the same time. This time I experimented with shaping the board to fit the garment. I cut polystyrene pieces to shape and tied them to the board uprights. I also used polystyrene to lift the shoulders. I'm pleased with how it turned out and will board it the same way next time.

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About Shetland


Shetland is the most northerly group of Scottish islands. Apart from mainland Scotland, the other near neighbours are Norway to the east and the Faroe Islands to the north west.