Friday, January 7, 2011

History, Free Patterns

I've been reading about knitting's American history, and learned a few things that surprised me.  The biggest surprise by far is that sweaters weren't knit in the US in any significant number until WWI.  Until then, knitting was usually about socks, hats, and shawls.  Another stunner: knitting for babies didn't take off until rationing in WWII made it difficult to buy baby clothes for newborns and infants, leaving mothers to get creative on their own.  Since knitting was considered a "patriotic duty" most women could easily whip up baby things out of yarn scraps.  The third surprising thing I learned is that wool was in such short supply due to the military demands for uniforms, bedding, and bandages, that re-using wool from all sources was commonplace.  Wool used for clothing, upholstery and carpeting was re-carded and re-spun into wool in factories and sold as "reclaimed", or sometimes "rag" wool.  New or "virgin" wool was largely allocated to the needs of our "boys over there".  When it was available, it was a pricey luxury.

All the history reading has made me think about my own knitting history, and that of my family.  The grandmothers both knit.  My mother knitted for her children. And at around 7 she and my grandmother taught me to knit.  I knit a sweater for my teddy bear, and a big raglan-sleeved mock turtleneck with graduated stripes.  I only knit occassionally for years.  Then I had a hysterectomy 8 years ago, and decided to spend my convalesence knitting.  I grabbed up two sweater patterns, a chemo cap pattern, and a ton of yarn, and I was back.  The yarns are amazing, and the patterns are so much more fun than I can every remember them being!

I've been looking for patterns to share with you that represent my knitting history, and here's what I've found:

Teddy Sweaters, click here.
HalfDome Chemo Caps, click here.
Manly Mittens, click here.

Thanks to the original designers who published these patterns in a free format.  Knitters are so cool that way! These were fun patterns for me, and I'll make them again, I'm sure.  Enjoy! 

Manly Mittens

Teddy Sweaters

Half Dome Chemo Cap

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