Over the years I have acquired a few handwritten sheets containing instructions for knit items. Some are from my mother, others are from my sister. These patterns were handed to me long before copy machines were readily available to the general public, and years before personal computers were invented for the masses. These hand-written instructions often were enclosed in the weekly letters my mother and sister wrote me.
In those days, there were ways, other than writing them by hand, to get new patterns — by purchasing books and booklets, which often cost only about 25 cents; or having a friend or relative show you how to make the item, while you memorized the steps.
If the instructions were written out, it was usually for an item that was fairly simple. No one wanted to sit down with pen in hand and spend hours writing pages of knitting instructions when they could have needles in hand, actually knitting the desired item.
One of the patterns my sister wrote out for me is for a round dishcloth, written so many years ago I can’t remember when it was. Perhaps in the 1970s. Until recently I had never knit the pattern. I did so as the result of a question posed by a knitter who had found similar instructions on the Web. Without actually knitting the dish-cloth, I couldn’t answer her question — she wanted to know what happened to the stitches that were left on the needle when the short rows were worked. The answer: They get knit in the 20th row.
The pattern is fun to do because even though it doesn’t seem like it at first, the resulting dishcloth does, indeed, turn out to be round. It’s one of those patterns that require faith. Just do it and it will come out all right. That’s because it’s knit in a series of wedge-shaped pattern repeats. Each pattern repeat consists of 20 rows, and those 20 rows are repeated seven times. It sounds like a lot of work, but it knits up fairly quickly.
Here’s the pattern as my sister wrote it out for me:
Cast on 15 stitches (I used size 6 needles and Sugar ’n Cream cotton yarn. She doesn’t say what she used.)
YO means yarn over (hold the yarn in front of the needle before knitting the next stitch) to increase a stitch.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K3, yo, knit until 1 stitch is left on needle, turn.
Row 3: Knit.
Row 4: K3, yo, knit until 2 stitches are left, turn.
Row 5: Knit.
Row 6: K3, yo, knit until 3 stitches are left, turn.
Row 7: Knit.
Row 8: Bind off the first 3 stitches, k2, yo, knit until 4 stitches are left, turn.
Row 9: Knit.
Row 10: K3, yo, knit until 5 stitches are left, turn.
Row 11: Knit.
Row 12: K3, yo, knit until 6 stitches are left, turn.
Row 13: Knit.
Row 14: Bind off first 3 stitches, k2, yo, knit until 7 stitches are left, turn.
Row 15: Knit.
Row 16: K3, yo, knit until 8 stitches are left, turn.
Row 17: Knit.
Row 18: K3, yo, knit until 9 stitches are left.
Row 19: Knit.
Row 20: Bind off 3 stitches, then knit to end of row.
Repeat rows 1-20 6 more times for a total of seven patterns. Bind off. Hand-sew edges together to complete the circle.
Try it, it’s fun.
• Google Lion Brand Notebook to see animated knitting videos. Scroll down to Archives, click on December 2008, then click on Knitting for the Earth. Both videos are so wonderful and magical you’ll want to watch them more than once. I was bowled over by the cleverness and creativity inherent in the work. Web addresses for the videos are http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7738418.stm for the animated video and www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO0-1GKXZEA for the music video.
• The Northeast Harbor Library will have an exhibit of weaving, knitting, felting, basketry and piecework March 1-April 15. Fiber artists who want to participate may call the library Monday, Thursday and Friday at 276-3333 and ask for Judith. Organizers are especially interested in mittens for the exhibit. Items may be for sale or for display only.
• Michaele Bailey will present “An Introduction to Angora Rabbits for Fiber and Fun” at noon Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Page Farm and Home Museum, University of Maine. Learn about angora rabbits, their care and grooming, and harvesting their fur. Bailey will demonstrate plucking, shearing, preparing the fiber for spinning, and spinning it. Bring a brown bag lunch. Beverages and a light dessert will be provided. Call the museum at 581-4115 for information.
• The current issue of Piecework magazine has a fascinating article about knitting two socks at the same time. The article was adapted by Jacqueline Fee, author of “The Sweater Workshop.” Fee spends part of the year in Deer Isle.
• Visit www.mccall.com for a free sewing pattern for a flower bucket door-hanging. It’s charming and “folksy.” Other free patterns include a teddy bear, several small bags and acorn-shaped pillows.
• Visit www.knittingdaily.com to see the site’s five most downloaded knitting patterns for 2008 — a quilt wrap, an Estonian lace scarf, Old World booties, a ribbed scarf and seafoam towels. The patterns are free.