Throughout 2016 the Vintage Costume, Textiles and Dolls department at Tennants has been auctioning a good, private collection of knitting sheaths and sticks, which had been formed by a Hartlepool couple over their lifetime. Highlights throughout the year have included seventeenth and eighteenth century examples, from primitive to decorative, ball to chain, and straight to gull wing examples.
Back in the spring an 18th century cage treen knitting stick, decorated with intricate chip carving, sold for £400, against at £150-200 pre-sale estimate. It was decorated with heart, diamond and flower head, and initialled 'SG BT' and dated '1789'. With a carved loop to one end, and two cages, one enclosing a single ball, it was a very intricate design and still in good condition consistent with its age.
The most recent offering sold on Saturday 5th November, included lot 2080, a late 18th century treen double chain knitting stick, which initialled and dated 1775, soared over its £500-700 estimate and sold for £1,100 to a private collector.
Gull Wing examples, shaped, but often plain in design have sold in group lots from £50 to £200.
For more information on the history of these working class instruments, please see Knitting Sheaths Sewn Up at Tennants