August 27, 2014

The Way Patterns Used to Be

My mother passed along the NYT Shawl pattern to me from Ravelry a few days ago.  In the pattern was an hyperlink that didn't work and resulted in my having to do some digging to find the actual source article for the pattern:  Gossip About Knitting (February 25, 1883).  I tell you this, not because I want to pass the shawl pattern along to you, but because there are apparently multiple articles of this title that contain amazingly few instructions; most particularly this glove pattern that threw me for a loop as I was reading through it.

Apparently, in 1883, The New York Times had an ENTIRE WEEKLY COLUMN dedicated to knitting and such.  DEDICATED.  I can guarantee that if the Atlanta Journal & Constitution had a weekly column dedicated to knitting, I'd actually read a newspaper.  I'd be a subscriber. I'd go all out! I may even become a subscriber to the NYT just so that I can get to the articles from the 1880s.

What the heck ever happened to that kind of columnist?  Wouldn't we all love to open our local paper and find weekly columns about crafty stuff like knitting, crochet, quilting, and weaving?  What kind of awesome would that be?!

So I am thinking of taking this glove pattern from 1883 out for a spin, limited instructions and all.  I am unsure about the yarn ... instructions call for "fine silk" ... maybe a lace-weight merino for this experiment will do. Perhaps the finished gloves will come out looking something like this, though there are instructions for individual fingers to be knit.

Weldon's Practical Knitter (c. 1885)

The thing that I find most interesting about the pattern, besides the fact that you work and finish the thumb before you knit the palm of the hand, it that the whole pattern is presented in what probably worked out in its original print to be about 3 inches of space (archival copy is significantly enlarged). There's no gauge. There's no notions list.  There's no abbreviations menu.  No pictures (someone sent me a negative convo on Ravelry the other day, complaining that my free pattern didn't have enough pictures!) required by the knitterly reader to knit the pattern. Just "Here is a needle size, grab some yarn, and whip this up!"  Fabulous, right?!

I can't wait to cast on! (Who cares if I already have a zillion projects waiting for some attention, right?)


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