Monday, September 07, 2009

How to Knit: The Minimalist Approach

In the hallway outside of the library, there is a small cart with used books for sale. These are donations and books that have been "de-acquisitioned" from our shelves. It's a small scale, ongoing fundraiser, and saves us from having to store quite so many boxes of books between our every-other-year book sales. On Saturday morning, this one caught my eye.

I love old needlework books, so of course I brought it home. I was pleased to find that knitting came first. Then I was startled to find that this is almost the entire extent of the directions.

You can click on the picture to make it bigger.

Favorite quote: "Before attempting to knit any article, you should first "learn how"...." Um, yes, that is probably a good idea.

The second page does provide equally detailed instructions for binding off and attaching a fringe, as well as the color sequence for stripes on a garter stitch scarf.

I look at this and think how totally inadequate it is in terms of today's standards; and yet, it's possible that some readers did take their first steps into knitting on the basis of these two pages.

Perhaps in 1941 the author assumed that knitting was so common that instruction was hardly necessary. Or perhaps she just liked embroidery and rug hooking better.


kmkat said...

...or perhaps people were smarter/more self-reliant then? Nah...

Cindy G said...

Probably not smarter, maybe more self reliant (though the rug hooking instructions are pretty extensive in comparison.)

It's funny, when I started knitting it was pretty standard for patterns to say "continue pattern as established" when shaping armholes, or direct you to knit the second cardigan front as the first "reversing shaping". As a self taught knitter I just plowed ahead and figured out how to do those things, not having any other option. But now (at least from comments I've seen on Ravelry), that sort of general direction throws a lot of people for a loop.

Not saying one way is better than another, just different expectations.