Sunday, June 01, 2014

Miniature Entry: Cheat Sheet from the Past

A dear friend recently gave me a magnificent present that deserves (and will get) its own entry. But tucked inside this gift was a piece of paper, the survival of which amazes me.

It's a sheet of the slick, translucent typing paper that some of us remember was called onionskin.

Yellowed, battered, and containing...


typed instructions for Kitchener stitch.

Below the typed copy is a spidery line of manuscript that reads...

ME spiral narrow at 19" narrow quickly

Somebody was making socks, I bet. Knee socks, maybe? If you were to knit a 19-inch tube, quick spiral decreases would give you a toe at the right point for a short woman's knee sock.

Or, possibly, "spiral" applies to "ME" and the socks were akin to the spiral stockings (knit without heel shaping) in Mary Thomas's Knitting Book.

I can't say with any certainty what "ME" means. Make Even? Possibly, though it's not a usage I have run across before.

In the upper right corner is a name and address:


Alice Maynard
558 Madison Avenue, N Y City

I wondered who she was, what sort of apartment she would have had on Madison Avenue in the East Fifties, and why she was typing instructions for Kitchener stitch for one of my friend's relatives. The miracle of the Internet gave me an answer in seconds:

Expert Guidance Offered to Knitter and Crocheter (New York Times, August 18, 1964)

Knitting help at Macy's,* Gimbel's, and Bloomingdale's. The mind boggles.

If any of you have memories of knitting at Macy's, Gimbel's, or Bloomingdale's; or of shopping at Alice Maynard, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

*Although Macy's "has no time for anyone who has not mastered the basic stitches." Love it.