Archive for the tag 'craft'


Sunday’s Child: Knit-O-Graf

Knit-O-Graf ad from 1959 McCalls Needlework & Crafts

Knit-O-Graf ad from 1959 McCalls Needlework & Crafts

Knit-to-Fit Snow White Graph

Knit-to-Fit Snow White Graph

Some day, a part of my needlework museum library will include a copy of every Knit-O-Graf and Knit-to-Fit chart published. I’m only up to 2 of each so far.

In the 1950s, knits featuring colorful pictures were all the rage, especially for children. Typical themes included cowboys, poodles, rocket ships, ice-skaters, adorable animals, clowns, and fairy tales. If you could find it on a dish towel, it was probably also on a sweater at some point. This trend really didn’t peter off until, well, ever. These days, you might find some more sophisticated designs for children; grown-up sweaters made small, but you’ll still find sweaters featuring kittens, ladybugs and choo choo trains. On the flip side, we’ve also incorporated more childlike designs into adult wear, giving grownups an in on the whimsical and cheerful that would have seemed too, too gauche not very long ago. This is lucky for everyone involved.

Big names in graphed knitting included the Knit-O-Graf and Knit-to-Fit charted patterns. When I found my first of these, I was ecstatic. Although they were designed for children, and the patterns sized appropriately, the clear charts are quirky and fun, and could be used to easily give a retro vibe to any sweater, whether for child or for adult. I own Knit-O-Graf patterns No. 170 and No. 206, featuring cowboys and poodles, and Knit-to-Fit patterns No. 410 and No. 416, featuring an ice skater and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Snow White design includes a copyright notice for Walt Disney Productions, but it’s hard to tell whether this was an officially licensed design. That whole idea of character copyright and licensing was notoriously weird during the early half of the 20th century.

Knit-to-Fit Ice Skater

Knit-to-Fit Ice Skater

From a technical standpoint, the charts are very interesting. Written instructions are included, but with a basic understanding of increasing and decreasing, sweater construction, and how intarsia works, the graph itself is all you really need. Each of the charts includes instructions for both pullover and cardigan styles, as well as different sleeve lengths and neck options.

Included below is the chart for the figure skater from Knit-to-Fit pattern No. 410. Use it to spiff up an existing garment by working the chart in duplicate stitch, or practice your intarsia chops by adding her into a new garment. She’d be adorable on a sweater, scarf, hat, or possibly even mittens or socks, or on knitted dishclothes and towels. Recharted in a clean digital file, in color for ease of reading, at roughly 5:7 ratio. Choose your own colors, of course.


Notes on copyrights: The Knit-O-Graf charts were designed and copyrighted by Della Delia Fitch and renewed in the 1980s by Nancy Karen Fitch Mott. They are still protected by copyright! They were distributed in Canada by Bouquet Yarns, and in the US by mail direct from the Knit-O-Graf Pattern Company. Knit-to-Fit charts were published during the same time period by Bernhard Ulmann Co, makers of Bear Brand, Fleisher’s, and Bucilla yarns. I cannot find any renewal information on the Knit-to-Fit charts. To the best of my knowledge the patterns are not still protected by copyright, however, designs featuring copyrighted characters may be otherwise protected. I always urge caution when approaching reproduction of such items. If I should be informed, or find information, that the chart I have provided is infringing in any way, it will be removed from the website as soon as possible.

If you are a crafty person, you may already be familiar with a paper craft technique called Iris Folding. The craft is most associated with greeting cards, but is also used by scrap-bookers and mixed media artists, and even quilters who duplicate the effect in fabric. Strips of folded paper are laid in a pattern resembling the iris of a camera, to fill the negative space cut from a piece of cardstock or other base. Any light-weight papers can be used for the folding, on a base of heavier cardstock, and there are numerous templates available for free online. All right, now that, spurned by my enthusiasm, you have rushed to the WWW to thoroughly familiarize yourself with this craft…

I’m afraid I’m a sort of rebel. The precision of iris folding appealed to me from the very beginning, and also the fact that it reminded me of a type of drawing I was taught in grade school to illustrate infinity. But I’ve tried my had at various methods of greeting-card making, and the truth is, I just don’t use them, and don’t enjoy making them. Also, I found a lot of the standard free templates a little too cute. It just wasn’t my style.

Some time after my introduction to iris folding, I was leafing through a book I’d been given; an old sample book of hand-made Japanese papers. The papers are all so beautiful, but of each there was only a 3″ x 6″ sample page, with writing printed in several places and holes punched in. I considered various ways I could use this paper in a sort of patchwork effect, to get the most bang for the buck, and eventually I hit on iris folding. It uses only small amounts of paper for the folded bits and with only a few exceptions, the Japanese papers were a good weight. But if I was going to use these very special papers, so precious because of their rarity, at least in my world, then I wanted a special project, and nothing I’d seen online would do. I understood the basics of the craft, so I set out to design my own template, and what could be more appropriate for Japanese papers than a Japanese koi?

It worked. It turns out I knew exactly what I was doing. I used a wide variety of papers, even for the white bits, to lend the fish the variety of texture and color of a real koi. Rather than leave it in a flat cardstock frame, I hand-painted a coffee filter to be reminiscent of water. The entire effect is subtle and pleasing, and it does a good job of showcasing the papers themselves.

If you’d like to try the koi, I’ve written basic instructions and drawn out the template. You can download it here. But I encourage you to spend some time squirreling away a little stash of special papers (if you don’t have one of these already) and then strike out on your own in a way to best showcase what you have.