This year’s theme on the Farms is “For the Fun of It!” and we have had a great time learning and playing all kinds of new games. Another hobby that many people enjoy is crafting, and women in 1900 were crafters as well. This past week we have combined the two, crafting and fun, into a knitted ball. We have experimented with different gauges and types of yarn, but we generally agree that this is an easy, fun knitting project even for a novice knitter. It doesn’t take much time, and it is fun to play around with. The kids have been delighted by playing simple games of catch with newly knitted balls; one young visitor even wanted to take one home.
The pattern we used is from The Art of Knitting, an 1892 book. This particular pattern makes a stripped ball, that we think looks like a mini beach ball when it is completed. The stuffing can be firm or soft, depending on what you use for filling. The larger of the two balls is stuffed with scrap pieces of fabric, but very loosely packed. It is soft and can be caught easily by young children. In fact, one visitor remarked that it is like the first NERF ball. An interesting concept. The brown and yellow ball is also stuffed with fabric bits, but tightly packed, creating a firmer ball, like a juggling ball. With modern supplies, you could even use fiberfill, so the knitted ball would be washable.
As you play with the pattern, notice the effect that gauge has on the finished product. The pink ball is made with cotton yarn and size 3 needles. The brown is made with a thicker wool and size 5 needles. Both were made by different knitters. A knitted ball (or set of three) could make a fun stocking stuffer or care package gift for the new college students heading off in the fall. It could be fun for your favorite cat as well. I hope you enjoy crafting them as much as we did.
Needles, size 3, or size needed for gauge
Gauge: 6 sts and 12 rows = 1 inch in garter stitch
Abbreviations: BO – Bind Off, CO – Cast On, k – knit, rep – repeat
With color 1, CO 24 sts
Rows 1 and 2: K24
Row 3: K20, turn.
Row 4: K16, turn.
Row 5: K20, turn.
Row 6: K24
Change to color 2 and work Rows 1-6. Rep the last 12 rows 6 more times, alternating 6 rows of color 1 with 6 rows of color 2 (seven sections of each color, 14 sections total). BO all sts. With yarn threaded on a tapestry needle, sew CO and BO edges together. Stuff the ball through the openings in the top and bottom. With yarn threaded on a tapestry needle, gather the sts tightly at each end to close the top and bottom of the ball. Weave in ends.
-Adapted from The Art of Knitting, 1892. Found in “Piecework” (Nov./Dec. 2004).