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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Friday, May 04, 2007

A stitch too far?

Once upon a time, Lady Bracknell was an enthusiastic knitter. (This was back in the days before DVDs and the Interwebnet, when one had to make one's own entertainment.)

When Lady Bracknell became enfeebled, knitting became too painful a pursuit for her, and she was forced to give it up. Gradually, over the intervening years, she has reluctantly relinquished almost all her books of knitting patterns to the local charity shop. (Although she still retains - somewhere - a copy of Melinda Coss's book of knitting patterns based on Clarice Cliff designs: should said book strike any of her regular readers as being something after which they would always have yearned had they but been aware of its existence, Lady Bracknell might be persuaded to endeavour a trip to the Post Office.)

Younger readers may not be aware that there was a great revival of the art of hand-knitting in the 1980's. Where previously the choice of yarns had been less than inspired, there was a sudden explosion on to the market of yarns in bright, rich colours and a variety of novel textures. If Lady Bracknell is not mistaken, she used to order wool by post from a supplier in the Shetland Islands, choosing the colours carefully from the charming shade card with which they had provided her.

Given that knitting was suddenly a youthful pursuit, and no longer the sole preserve of mousy women of a certain age, patterns appeared for "zany" knitted novelties such as vegetables, potted plants and jewellery knitted out of wire. Lady Bracknell herself recalls knitting a pair of duck's feet for a friend. (She hastens to add that this was done at the friend's request: it was not the aristocratic equivalent of leaving a horse's head on someone's pillow.)

Lady Bracknell was reminded of her old pastime by one of the search terms which was used yesterday to bring a reader to her humble blog. It is a search term by which she is bemused, and she hopes that one of her readers may be able to shed some light on the matter.

The search term in question is: "wheelchair knitting patterns".

As already alluded to, Lady Bracknell has created a variety of knitted novelty items in her time. But, while knitting can produce more versatile results than is often popularly imagined to be the case, it is not without its limitations. One thing knitted fabric is not is rigid. Lady Bracknell cannot but suspect that a knitted wheelchair would hardly be fit for purpose.

Lady Bracknell's second idea was that the search term might have been intended to produce patterns which can be knitted by a wheelchair user. However, while Lady Bracknell would not be at all surprised to learn that knitting while seated in a wheelchair requires an adaptation to the standard method, this surely would be an issue of technique, rather than one of specific patterns? Or are wheelchair users forbidden from knitting anything interesting, and doomed to constructing blankets to cover their knees, and capes to protect themselves from the elements?

Lady Bracknell trusts that enlightenment on this puzzling issue will shortly be forthcoming by way of Blogger's useful comments facility.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a number of patterns available for knitted dolls dressed in a variety of garbs to suit the recipient. Also wool colours for bared areas are easily varied to represent a variety of ethnic origins and mixes. It could be that the knitter wishes to make a knitted doll ensemble which would appeal to a person who would like a wheelchair user represented in their doll collection.

One could imagine a wide range of friendly knitted dolls could be produced, where mass-market plastic-tat producers fail at truly representing the whole community. Amputees would be fairly trivial, by stopping knitting at the right place (starting again in order to make prostheses), varying the pattern could produce children of thalidomide users, those with dwarfism, scoliosis or CP. Simple colour changes might produce an albino. I wonder if there's a pattern for an assistance dog out there already.

I guess the plastic-tat producers do manage to do anorexic girls quite well though.

7:05 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Perhaps they were wanting to find a pattern to Fair-Isle knit the wheelchair (disability) symbol into a jumper or something?

/25 y/o knitter

8:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be curious as to what you find out too. Never heard of such.

8:44 pm  
Blogger seahorse said...

Hilarious and inspirational. I would like to gather the person responsible for the delay in providing me with a wheelchair, put them in a room and provide them with a knitting pattern...for a life-sized knitted wheelchair which they then have as their sole means of mobility for a while, just to see how hard getting around can be for some people :-)

9:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it has been ordained that wheelchair users should knit baskets. One has difficulty in seeing the practical application of this, and can only assume the subject was insufficiently researched by the pattern-maker; as Lady Bracknell herself has made clear, wool is not a sufficiently rigid material for creating this kind of structure.

10:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may come as a shock, but knitting is in fact having a bit of a resurgence amongst the younger set here in Toronto. I would refer your ladyship to www.alterknitcafe.com, and www.downtownknitcollective.ca. One would imagine there are more sites, but thats all I can recall from an article in the National Post about said resurgence.

10:42 pm  
Blogger S. said...

I see something with fishing line. (This is my new knitting material)

11:07 pm  
Blogger Wheelchair Dancer said...

I'm with Mary... a pattern. After all, one does need that blanket on one's need to be a little different from all the other plaids.



(who wears an aluminium space blanket when the occasion requires)

11:38 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

When I was small, my mother and other public-spirited mothers would be dragooned into knitting fake chain-mail armour for our school plays. This was done using needles like young telegraph-poles, the thickest yarn outside fishing-nets, and can after can of aluminium spray-paint.

Children usually came off stage with permanently tattooed skin and/or unnameable rashes. But it looked ever so real, as I recall.

6:24 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is vastly amused by the prospect of a fashionable, knitted knee-blanket with integral fair-isle wheelchair motif. What style! What elegance!

Ditto by the prospect of knitting baskets: pointless and frustrating. Surely, therefore, the ideal task to set for tragic disabled types?

She is very pleased to note that knitting is enjoying a resurgence in Toronto: knitting is a fine pastime, and one which she misses.

However, even without the pain which knitting would now cause her, she doubts she retains the requisite clarity of vision to knit with fishing line. Although she would be very interested to see the end results of such an undertaking.

8:12 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

"Although she would be very interested to see the end results of such an undertaking."

Is that a challenge, Ma'am?

I regret that my theory is not based on having seen a blanket with integral fair-isle wheelchair motif. Simply the way in which I would phrase a search for a pattern - if I wanted, say, a kitten on my jumper, I would search "kitten knitting pattern". Although instructions on how to knit a kitten would be interesting in its own way...

/wurbling on, sorry

10:19 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell once knitted a ginger kitten from a pattern in a magazine.

She also once knitted Postman Pat's cat, Jess. And swore that she would never knit anything in black mohair ever again.

On another subject entirely, here is something the Editor found earlier today which she thought might be of interest to Mary.

10:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure it couldn't be a pattern for some kind of wheelchair cosy? A snug dust cover-type arrangement?

12:31 am  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

I have never tried that myself, but there is a computer programme available called Designa Knit, which is said to be able to transfer any picture into a knitting pattern.

Aendr: Believe it or not, but we jused to have a nativity set in the 80ties, which included knitted sheep and and a knitted sheepdog. It is no problem to knit an assisstant dog. A proper harnish to make it a guide dog is a piece of cake, too.
Everyone who has ever knitted a sheep, will join my pleasure about the fact that humans have decided to have assisstance dogs rather than assisstance sheep

10:11 am  
Blogger Mary said...

My thanks to Lady Bracknell/The Editor for the link... it comes to something when one looks at a jewellery storage item and the first thought that comes to mind is about whether one's jewellery would do it justice!

10:24 am  
Blogger Funky Mango said...

Knitting in black mohair...oh yes, bad experience. Even worse though is doing cross-stitch on black fabric. Imagine putting a needle through invisible holes, and you just about have the idea...

...to the wheelchair knitting pattern though. I don't believe one would need a pattern for the classic known as the "granny blanket" - a knee-blanket made by sewing together squares knitted from every odd spare yard of yarn in a one-mile radius.

7:05 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell has never really understood why it is that persons who use wheelchairs are commonly supposed to immediately lose all interest in maintaining a smart outward appearance.

She has a sneaking suspicion that it is because they are generally deemed to become non-people the moment they lose the capacity to walk.

Which is, of course, the most frightful nonsense.

8:09 pm  

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