Saturday, July 13, 2013

True Simplicity

I'm fascinated by the Shaker sect and the influence it has had on American culture. Their music, furniture, architecture, agriculture -- all undertaken with a mind toward worship through simplicity. Although they believed in equality of the sexes from their 18th-century founding, they also had some weird ideas about lifelong celibacy. I guess no cult is perfect. Several years ago, Jeff and I stayed a night at the restored Pleasant Hill Shaker village in Kentucky. It was absolutely beautiful. I could have spent much longer there than we did. We loved everything about it. Well, Jeff didn't exactly care for the Shaker Lemon Pie.

My friend Staci, creator of the helpful VeryPink video tutorials, has just released a pattern for Shaker Dishcloths and Coasters, created from a description of similar items in Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting (p. 205). I wanted some colorful placemats to go with our colorful dishes, and I figured I could adapt the dishcloth design a little larger to get what I needed. I'm planning on making 6, in the colors shown in the last post. This picture shows the first attempts. They haven't been washed yet.

Such a cool pattern! Nothing too complicated, and after I got used to how the stitches are supposed to look on the needles I found I wasn't constantly glancing at the pattern anymore. Although this pattern does represent true simplicity, the knitter should pay attention and read it through carefully. There are some unusual techniques that have to be followed in order for these to work. If you don't like working short rows, then this probably isn't the project for you. But I urge you to try it. You may just find that:

To turn, turn will be your delight
'Til by turning, turning you come 'round right.

Posting may be erratic for the next few weeks while we are on vacation. But I will try to visit a yarn shop or two since we'll be in a place where knitting is appreciated, if not downright necessary. Stay tuned.


  1. Such a nice post and pretty photos! Thank you, Steven!

  2. I definitely will be making a few of these in dishcloth size. My mom loves the knitted dishcloths, and I'm kind of bored of the pattern I've been using.

  3. Will you share details about your adaptation of the pattern to enlarge it?

  4. I simply measured my plates and, using the gauge, figured out show many more stitches I wanted to cast on.