Friday, August 7, 2009

History Detectives - Knit Style

I know a guy who’s very nice but every time you talk to him, it’s like coming into the middle of a conversation and you have to go carefully to catch up. He came to mind as I was trying to figure out a pattern from the January 1918 Needlecraft magazine. I found a page with 3 “Doilies with Knitted Borders.” That is, linen middles with a wide knitted lace going around. They’re all pretty variations on a theme but I finally decided on doily #2. Fine.

I got my pattern copied, my crochet thread and US size 0 needles and started. Cast on 29 stitches. Check. Knit across plain. Check. Hey this is going to be pretty easy!

1. Knit 2, narrow, over twice, narrow, knit 2, (over, narrow) 4 times, knit 11, fagot. Huh?!!??!

Now I’ve heard of faggoting (I know, unfortunate word that doesn’t translate well but bear with me – it’s just a knit stitch) in regard to a stitch PATTERN but not as a term for a particular stitch. Usually a faggotted pattern would entail some variation of a yarn over and knit 2 together, usually staggered to make a mesh-type fabric but that didn’t seem to work so well. I didn’t end up with enough stitches.

Then at knit group, one of the ladies (who knows all things) said, “Oh, it sounds like you just need to do a yarn over at the end or beginning of the row, wherever that term shows up.” Hah! Easy. I can do that. I have to admit it did occur to me but I’ve never seen a pattern where you yarn over at the very end or beginning of a row. But, hey, she’s pretty smart so I was sure it would work. Until.

I get to row 5: Knit 2, narrow, over twice, narrow, (knit 4, over, narrow) twice, knit 3, fagot twice, knit 6, fagot.
So what do you do here?! Wouldn’t the pattern writer just say “over twice” if it was in the middle of the row like she did at other times? Besides it left me with too many stitches.

I put it down as it was time to go to bed anyway and thought about it all night. What could she be talking about? I’d already checked all the books I have, including the electronic versions I have of 19th century pattern books. No joy. I’m not discouraged because this is the fun (cough, cough) part of knitting vintage and antique patterns.

I couldn’t find my Great Grannie’s magnifying glass last night to look at the picture more closely so I magnified it on my copier. While it showed me more detail of the picture, it didn’t give me any clues.

Last resort? Read the article from the very beginning and see if there are any clues there, proving the old maxim - when all else fails, read the directions. That sounds logical and, for any other person, probably the place they would have started but, while I may take the scenic route (literally and figuratively), I usually get there in the end.

“For No. 1. – Cut from linen blah, blah, blah…Join the ends of the lace, blah, blah…The lace may also be used for any purpose, yeah, yeah….as a straight trimming.” Hum. Nothing there. Keep reading.

Cast on 28 stitches; knit across plain.
1. Knit 2 (it is always well to slip the 1st stitch of the selvage, inserting ………over twice, narrow, knit 20, fagot (that is, over twice and purl 2 together).” HA! HA, HA!

Case solved. I know I should have done that to begin with but I’m just so used to jumping in boots first that I didn’t think. But I did get people talking and thinking about what it might have meant so I think of it as spreading the joy.

No comments: