There is definitely a lot more to the humble antique treen knitting sheath/stick than first meets the eye. They were functional tools as well as love tokens and I have included information from my previous blog below. However far from being just a simple stick some were beautifully carved and often dated. Over the last few years I have come across some more unusual shaped knitting sheaths, images of which I have included here. From the soldier and the mermaid to fish, shoes, horses and birds. One very interesting one is a stick dated 1704 inscribed with a latin inscription!
Numerous antique treen knitting sheaths were used as a functional tool, Worn tucked in a belt on the right handside of the waist. A small hole at the top enabled the point of the needle to be inserted thus providing a firm base on which knitting could be worked. Antique treen knitting sheaths also supported the knitting and allowed the knitters to attain great speeds whilst knitting without the danger of the stitches falling off.
Many people knitted in the evenings, when the day job was finished, as a necessity to earn some extra money. What I like particularly about this was the social aspect where adults would take it in turns to go to each others houses and they would sit around the fire and knit and talk. Only the light of the fire was used, if someone dropped a stitch the fire would be stoked up to improve the light
As love tokens, these elaborately carved, knitting sheaths, sometimes with chains, inlaid hearts or verses, were certainly made. for a wife, sweetheart, mother or even a father making one for a child. They usually were intended for use some with several holes in the end where they had been well used and loved,, but there are some knitting sheaths showing no use at all around the end hole and hence these were just ornamental.