The Canadian “Cloud”

I did a little more research online yesterday about the “cloud”.  I have come to the conclusion that today this is what we call a “stole”, except that it was longer and worn over the head and wrapped once or twice around the neck, like a scarf.  It seems to have been knitted with very fine wool (our laceweight) with large, 7.5-8mm needles–like the 1922 pattern I used for the Spanish Mantilla shown in my “gallery” at the top of my blog.   There are detailed instructions on how to wear a Cloud on page 84 of the Murray’s Magazine, Vol. III January-June 1888.  They describe this part of a Canadian woman’s “get up” as follows:

Their tuques are smaller and closer, and generally almost concealed by the fleecy folds of a ‘cloud’–that peculiarly Canadian wrap which, consisting of a fringed strip of  loosely knitted or woven thick soft wool nine feet long and eighteen inches wide, is both comfortable and becoming.

There is a pattern for a “Canadian Cloud” in the Lady’s Book of Knitting, on page 32–the link is to the whole pdf. of the book, at the Antique Pattern Library site, and may take a few minutes to load (be sure to check out all the antique pattern books in the “Catalog” tab on the right).  This book was published in 1886 in Boston, and I find it interesting that red and white were the colours chosen for this pattern, as those are the colours we associate with Canada today.  (This book has many other interesting patterns, too–I made the “Gentleman’s ribbed sock” on page 18 for my son-in-law in an alpaca/wool/nylon blend yarn).

There is another Cloud pattern on page 279 in “Little Wide-Awake” magazine (1881, London, ed. Mrs. Sale Barker).  This pattern uses two yarns in different colours, one finer than the other–I am testing the pattern with lace-weight wool yarn for the shetland, and double knitting weight wool for the ‘double berlin’; old UK size 1 needles are 7.5 mm on the needle chart I use from the Yarn and Fiber website.  There follow two lace patterns to use if only one colour of yarn is being used, “small spider net” and “another feather pattern”.  It does seem that the Clouds were knit with these large size needles–another Cloud pattern in “Best of Everything, by the author of Enquire Within”, Robert Kemp Philp, London, 1870, on page 235 (yet another online Google book), uses “very fine Lady Betty wool, or…shetland wool” with needles about a “third of an inch in diameter” which, on my ruler, is a 7.5 or 8mm needle).  This cloud is knit square, then folded in half to make a rectangle.

UPDATE: Here are photos of my Cloud, knit from the “Little Wide Awake” pattern!

Little Wide Awake 1881 Cloud

There is a pattern for a crocheted “Snow-flake cloud” on page 350-351 of Potter’s American Monthly (Volumes XIV and XV 1880, Philadelphia); this one is much shorter,  only three-quarters of a yard to  a yard and a quarter, i.e. 27-45 inches) and seems to be worn just as a head-covering, not wrapped around the neck.  While it may be made all in white wool, “a charming variation, however, is to make the foundation of white wool, and the chain-work overlying it of some contrasting color.  Black or purple over white is used for persons in mourning, or elderly ladies; blue or pink for others.  Scarlet is admired by many, but the effect is almost too vivid for any one except a very young girl.” !!!!!!!

Searching on Google full-text books brought up other references to the Cloud, too–a couple are In Her Earliest Youth, a Novel, by ‘Tasma’ (p 83-85; by Mrs Jessie Catherine Huybers Couvreur; New York, 1890); and Rose and Lavender, by the author of “Miss Toosey’s Mission,” “Laddie,” “Tip Cat,” etc. (p 218; by Evelyn Whitaker; Boston, 1891).  It was common for women to publish their books anonymously, and in Mrs. Whitaker’s case her identity was not revealed until after her death, according to Wikipedia’s entry about her.  It also states that she made frequent use of the language of flowers,  popular in Victorian times–the Antique Pattern Library has an interesting little book about this topic, published in 1844, listed under Edgarton, Miss S.C. The Flower Vase; Containing The Language of Flowers and Their Poetic Sentiments.

#CanadianCloud #VictorianKnitting #VictorianShawl #antiquepattern


Filed under Vintage Patterns, Woolworks

3 responses to “The Canadian “Cloud”

  1. Thanks for all the links. Appreciate your efforts, thereby saving mine.

  2. Oh, I’m so tickled to see this! I’m downloading the Lady’s Book of Knitting as I type and wanted to let you know that even though I’ve only just now discovered your post still I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share this very cool information.!

    • westcoastsupernatural

      I’m glad you found the post interesting! There are so many old patterns from the 1800’s and later that are just as useable and fun to make today as they were when first published. I will be posting more about vintage/historic patterns probably in late December or early January, including crochet patterns. Not vintage: I’m posting a crochet fish hat either tomorrow or Saturday–my own design, based on the very well known knit hat. Spread the word 😉

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