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A soft, light knitted or crocheted scarf worn by women about the head or neck. — F.M. Adams, The Drygoodsman: Handy Dictionary for the Dry Goods and Shoe Trade (St. Louis: The Drygoodsman, 1912), 47.

Crocheted shells of fleecy white wool, the perfect stitch for a lady’s nubia… (1902)

AA nubia is a scarf about three yards long and eighteen inches wide, worn over the head with the ends wound around the neck or crossed over the chest. Synonyms for nubia include shawl, muffler, mantle, and sontag. It was usually knit on large diameter needles using an airy stitch, and most often had a tasseled or fringed border. Laura’s nubia for Mary was crocheted using a “soft, fleecy white wool” so that in both pattern and color, it reminded Laura of snowflakes.

While a narrower muffler makes an easier project for beginning knitters or crocheters, a nubia is a satisfying project and can be worn either around the shoulders as a shawl or over the head as originally intended. The yarn used is more important than the stitch, so to crochet a nubia as soft and fleecy as Mary Ingalls’, look for the softest and fluffiest yarn you can find.

How to Wash a Nubia. These pretty fleecy things are often ruined in the first washing. Yet it is possible to wash them and have them look almost as well as ever. First braid the tassels, then make a hot suds with fine castile soap, and instead of rubbing or wringing it with the hands, run it through the wringing-machine. Then open the nubia as widely as possible and spread it on some clean place to dry. A bed is a good place for this. After it is thoroughly dry take the braid out of the tassels, and the pretty little waves will be in them just as before washing. It is the rubbing and twisting of a nubia, or any knit article, which damages it, and makes it look old and worn instead of light and airy and fleecy, as it does at first. If any article of this kind is torn, it should be mended carefully with crewel or fine silk of a corresponding color. Then dampen the place repaired, lay a paper over it, and press the spot with a warm iron. — S.L. Louis, Decorum: A Practical Treatise on Etiquette and Dress of the Best American Society (New York: Union Publishing House, 1882), 412.


nubia (LTP 15, 19)