Euskal Herria is a mountainous and marine territory with a humid and temperate climate where woolen garments were used during almost all year around, therefore weaving and embroidering are part of the domestic tradition and history of this country.
Within the domestic economy and once it was manually spurned, wool has been used for knitting socks and jackets. It was also used to make laces that tie abarcas (traditional leather shoe wear).
The Mendigoizal, also known by the name of "Kaiku" is a sheep wool knitted jacket, woven with an elastic stitch. It is hip length and has a straight cut pattern, a square neckline and long sleeves bordered with decorative geometric designs, letters, coat of arms, etc. They are made in two colors and they close with laces that have pompons at their ends also made in wool.
The Mendigoizal forms part of the pastoral culture, and although its use also extended through valleys, it has always been linked to pastors and their families as they were the ones that wore it, both men and women and children.
Nowadays it is part of the traditional Basque clothing since it is the most usual item among older people, youth and children.
It originates from farm houses at the end of the nineteenth century, the Mendigoizal was also known by the name "lady jacket" because the font side design was made in a two color checkerboard. Each one of them was hand-knitted using two needles.
When the industrial wool was introduced, the homemade Mendigoizales were knitted using dark blue or black yarn. They recreated two color drawings and added a combination of more elaborated stitches. Among these, the ones imported from Bayonne (Lapurdi province) became very popular, they were even used as wedding garments.
In the twentieth century, as a consequence of the prohibition of the Ikurriña (basque flag), farmer's clothing started to form part of a tradition. Artisans readapted them with their symbols and colors, they introduced coats of arms in the front side. The colors red and green were used more assiduously to create a whole trend of fashion giving it a basque sense.
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Step 1: Garment Presentation
As we have previous mentioned, the Mendigoizal is a traditional woolen coat garment knitted with two knitting needles.
The project we propose recuperates a twentieth century design that can be seen in the gown collection of the Basque Ethnographic Museum Bilbao.
With the collaboration Mari Carmen Boller San Martín and Lourdes Serrada Escudero, expert weavers with extensive knowledge and experience in making traditional knitwear. We will try to show you how the traditional Mendigoizal jacket is made
Step 2: Design
- In our pattern we indicate the amount of stitches and guiding passes you need. Check out the practice sampler we recommend knitting before you begin.
- Start by knitting 20 stitches per 20 garter stitches using the indicated needles and yarn. Measure it to know how many stitches and rows you will be needing to weave a 10x10cm surface. Compare it with the quantity of stitches our recommend indications offer and if there is a big difference, adjust it to the measurements by applying the rule of three.
- As for the stitches, two different ones are used for this project. On one hand the garter stitch is used through almost the entire jacket. On the other hand the bicolor Mendigoizal stitch we use for the geometry border design which is almost the same garter stitch but with a Jacquard stitch that gathers hanging treads from behind. Strands that are not being used are gathered up with alternate stitches creating a firmer weave. You can see it in the following videos.
Step 3: Pattern
Pattern and greek
Step 4: Mendigoizal Instructions
No. 5. Red wool
No. 5 blue wool.
No. 4 needles.
Sizes: S, M, L
Knit stitch Mendigoizal knitting, this is, Jacquard knit stitch picking up the threads that hang behind. The thread that is not being used is picked up behind so that the knitting is stronger. Example: 10 x 10cm = 22 knits eta 19 rows 1 row = one-way and return How to do it:
Prepare 80k. - 85k. – 91k. with the contrast colour (red) Squared greek border:
Knit 2 rows (4 one-way and return) with the knit stitch.
3th row, base colour (blue)
4th row, contrast colour (red)
5th one-way-row, two knits with the base colour (blue) and two knits with the contrast colour (red), starting with the blue. Carry the thread in each knit (watch video). 5th return-row, take the thread in and out with the corresponding colour in each colour change (watch video)
6th row same as 5th row but starting with the contrast colour (watch video).
7th row contrast colour (red) 8th row base colour (blue)
9th and 10th rows contrast colour (red) Keep knitting with the base colour (blue)
Armhole: 34cm - 36cm - 38cm. close 3 knits in each side. Knit 2 rows and close 2 knits in each point so that in the end there are 70knits – 75k – 81k. Neck: knit 54cm – 56cm – 60cm and close 10p, 13p, 15p in the centre so that you can continue knitting each side one by one and close 3k in the next row and 2k in the next one. Shoulder: when you have reached 56cm, 58cm, 62cm closing both sides yo that the number of knits are 25k, 26k, 28k in each shoulder.
Prepare 25k, 27k, 30k knits. Knit it as the back side except for the neck.
Neck: do not close the knits in the 51cm, 53cm, 55cm knitting. Raise every knit in the center of the jacket and start knitting the twenties’ greek border.
Close 2 knits in the even rows (2nd,4th,6th and 8th). Close 3 knits in the 13th row.
Pick up the knits you didn’t close and knit 5 rows more to reach the shoulder.
Knit it as the right side, but the other way around.
SLEEVE Prepare 38k, 40k, 42k knits Knit the next 15 rows following the twenties’ greek border guide. Continue with the base colour (blue) and add 1 knit each 5 rows. Add 1 knit each 5 rows in each side until you reach the armhole.
Armhole: Close 3knits in each side when you reach 40cm, 42cm,44cm. Close 2 knits in each side in the next row. Close 1 knit in each side in the next rows until there are less than 10 knits that will be closed while finishing the sleeve.
Sew the shoulders Place the sleeves in the shoulder’s seam and sew the armhole. Sew both sides and the low-side of the sleeves Neck: raise every knit in the neck and knit it with the contrast colour (red) 2nd row, one-way, 2 knits base colour (blue) and 2 knits contrast colour (red) beginning with the blue and carrying the threads in each knit (watch video) 2nd row, return, take the thread in and out with the corresponding colour in each colour change (video) Knit the 3rd row the same as the 2nd row beginning with the contrast colour (red) (bideoaikusi) Knit the last row, the 4th one, with the contrast colour (red) Add the pompons
Step 5: Cord
Traditionally the Mendigoizal close in the front side with two laces. At
the end of these cords there are pompons which are tied with a knot. To make them we will follow the technique that Mari shows us in the following video
Step 6: Pompon
The last step for this project is to make the pompons and attach
them to the end of the cords. This will help us close our jacket.