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Lord Randolph or
Jane Markham or
Jo Woolam

How to make a Coif


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Coifs or chain hoods are traditional to nearly all eras and styles of European armor. While I have seen many different approaches to their design, there is only one I've found that combines grace, fit and style. I will attempt to explain how to create my preferred design. The only part that is different from what you have already learned is the expanding pattern that makes up the top of the head. It can best be visualized as six triangular pieces attached at their sides, but that's not the best way to make it. Instead, you will be doing something very much like knitting a strip of four-to-one maille, except that you will knit it around in a circle in such a way that the top row of closed rings becomes tighter, has fewer total rings, and has all rings linked into a single central ring.

Start by picking up six closed rings on an open ring. Think of the open ring in the center as a shared point of six expanding triangles. Attach a triad to any two adjacent closed rings by going up and up, ignoring the other rings for now. Arrange the five rings you've just handled to look like the three-wide pattern that you have been practicing. Now (step a) attach a triad by going down through the rightmost closed ring on the triad you've just attached and up though ONE ring (the rightmost) of the two you just went up and up through. Arrange the four rings on the outside circle so they all lay in the same direction that you have been working. As you make this pattern, you will be working in the same way as when you knit a single strip-that is, you will always be adding rings to your right. Since you are really making a circle, this means that you must turn the work as you add rings to ensure that the "growing end" is always facing to the right. Now (step b) attach one open ring with one closed by going down through the farthest right of the two loose rings, up through the same ring that you just connected the triad to (step a), and finally through the next of the closed rings along the center ring. You should now have five rings on the outside row with a "loose" ring in the middle. Think of the loose ring as a corner. Now repeat step a by attaching a triad to the right end (down through one ring on the out side closed row and up through one on the inside closed row). You've turned your second corner! Repeat step b. Continue in this way until you've gone full circle. Considering the first as a b, you will add a total of 5 a and b pairs. Notice that in both steps a and b you are really knitting four to one-each open ring is linking into four closed rings. The second to the last closure is the last step b that connects to the first ring connected to in the inside closed row. Closing the circle is a combination of the two steps. You will be adding a corner - the closed ring hanging off the last ring to be closed is not connected except to that closed ring. The last closure is difficult. The final closure is a variation of step a in that your initial triad was a step b with an extra ring being stored for the final step a. In other words, pick up one closed with one open and knit down through the last added loose ring, up through the inside closed ring and down through the loose ring that was added in the initial starting step. You can check the correctness easily; you should have six sides with each side having four rings (double counting corner rings) (Illustration E). Furthermore, all the rings except the outermost row will go through four other rings ( including the six corners, one on the inside and three on the outside).



Click for enlargement and typed explanation

closure 1
closure 2
closure 3
closure 4
closure 5
closure 6
closure 7
closure 8
closure 9
closure 10
closure 11
closure 12
closure 13
first corner on second pass around



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