Knitted bag for a relic

Published on: Author: lynnabrams 8 Comments

relic knitted bag


This picture of a tiny (thimble size) knitted bag containing a relic (a stone)  was found inside a re-used piece of a 14th-century ecclesiastical container which had been drastically cut down,  and backed with a piece of cardboard with early modern handwriting on it.  It was passed to me by my colleague Julia Smith who is researching medieval relics. She has no idea of the date of the knitted bag. I thought readers of the blog might be interested and might like to offer thoughts on possible dating.

8 Responses to Knitted bag for a relic Comments (RSS) Comments (RSS)

  1. How big is it? There are some very fancy reliquary bags in Switzerland (Rutt, History of Hand Knitting p 50) that are ‘considered to be’ 14th century. Plausible, certainly.

  2. It looks like it may be made in silk – see reasons below, knitted in the round (? Is there a seam not shown on picture?).
    A study to determine if the cast on is at the top or not would be most informative. Working on the assumption that it is, I propose the following:

    Looks like the cast on edge is the opening part of the bag, then it’s knit in a dark straw colour, then a green thread – light straw – dark straw – light straw – green – light straw, banding; so three colours used. I’m presuming silk because of the aparent lustre and lack of woolen halo to fibre, but it may be linen/ nettle, or other plant fibre. Cast off top gathered and made into the bag’s base, which then has a decorative pompom-like remnant. Tasseled draw-strings threaded through top of bag to form closure. As it begins with a cast on (if I’m correct from the picture) then the bag has been intentionally designed this way rather than a restructured piece – again if there is a seam it would need taking into consideration. The fact that the tassels seem of the same time of making may bear this out. All in all, I’d hazard a safe guess at the date being no later than c1540 – date of the Reformation, if it the find was made in England, Wales or Scotland. What sort of stone did it contain – gall stone perhaps?

  3. I am very interested in recreating this bag for a historic knitting challenge.
    I wondered if you had any measurements for width or length please?
    From the image it appears that there are approx 14sts on one side of the bag, suggesting 28 around. Using 1mm needles, which are the finest I can find, and working to a tension of 11-12sts per inch, this suggests the bag is just over 2ins in circumference. Does this seem approximately correct please?

    • Dear Bev
      thanks for your interest. We think it’s width is approx 1 inch so your 2 inches sounds about right. Coud you send us a photo when you have finished it?
      best wishes

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