Bredmose Woman’s “Sprang” Bog Cap

Bredmose Woman Bog Hairnet

Bredmose Woman Sprang Cap

A "bog body" is a human body that has been mummified in a peat bog.  The acidic water, lack of oxygen and cold temperatures of the bog preserve bodies remarkably well​ - some still have well preserved skin, eyelashes and even beard stubble!  The oldest bog body is thought to have lived around 8,000 B.C.  While the bog bodies themselves are interesting, what is really fascinating is the stuff found along with the bodies. 

In 1942 the "Bredmose Woman," also known as the "Arden Woman," was found in the Bredmose bog in the Parish of Store Arden, in Denmark.  She is thought to have lived around 1400 B.C and was around 20 to 25 years old at her death.  While many bog bodies show signs of violence, she did not.

Her hair was dark blonde and formed into two braids that were coiled around the top of her head.  Over her hair she wore a "sprang" cap.

You don't hear of sprang work very often.  It looks somewhat like knitting, and it is possible that early archeologists who discovered sprang work misidentified it as knitting (keep in mind that the first archeologists in the 19th century were mostly men and generally not knitters).  While sprang looks similar to knitting, it has more in common with weaving.

Sprang is done on a loom, and it has warp rows only, no weft rows (up and down rows only, no side-to-side threads).  The warp rows are twisted, similar to the child's game of cat's cradle.  The work is done in the middle, and as the warp rows are twisted it creates identical patterns at each end.  If you let go the whole thing will unravel, so a stick is used in the center to keep the twists from unraveling.  A stick is also used to beat down the work, moving the work closer to the ends so there is room to continue working in the center. 

Sprang on Loom

Sprang on a loom,
with a stick holding the tension.

The work is complete when the desired design is achieved, or because there are so many twists that there isn't room to twist any more.  The center is then secured so it doesn't unravel, leaving a seam.  This seam is a telltale sign that the work is sprang and not knitting, crochet or anything else.

Very few people do sprang work anymore, and the few that do tend to be historians or historical reenactors ... people who are interested in recreating an old garment not for any practical reason, just for the thrill of reviving a lost art.  I mean, really, you don't see anyone wearing a bog cap for a night on the town or even just for a quick run to the grocery store. 

So while creating a sprang work bog cap might be fun, a more practical pursuit would be to honor the Nordic roots of the Bredmose Woman with Tahki's Nordica yarn ... and the perfect project is Patty Lyons' new Soho Slip Stitch Sweater KAL.  It is often said that school children loose a lot of learning over the summer and start the next school year about three months behind where they were at the start of summer.  That's not a concern for you, because this summer project is more like an online class with fun how-to's and instructional videos to keep your knitting skills sharp through the summer!

And as an extra bonus, the Nordica yarn is a 100% Virgin Extrafine Superwash Merino wool.  Since it's machine washable, you don't have to worry if you just happen to fall into a bog while wearing your new Soho Slip Stitch Sweater!

Happy Knitting! ... Scout

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