Thursday, 25 September 2014

Waldorf Knitting Patterns

An advertising leaflet for the local Steiner Kindergarten / School in Canterbury came through my letterbox a few weeks ago. Due to the lack of offspring of my own, the advertising was completely lost on this household, but it prompted me to think of the Steiner Curriculum, in which knitting still forms an integral part. It also reminded me of the traditional Waldorf dolls, which I vaguely remember from my childhood.

The examples below, even though some of the projects displayed are Waldorf-inspired rather than original Waldorf patterns, provide an idea of the kind of style I have in mind. Further details on these are available here. 

Waldorf and Waldorf - Inspired knitting projects on Pinterest. Available here.

I carried on looking and found a site (a Waldorf Kindergarten based in Hamburg, Germany) with actual patterns: The dwarf (?) below is a Dornacher Purzel. I am aware that the headquarters of the anthroposophical society are located in Dornach near Basel (Switzerland), but I have no idea what a Purzel is. I assume it's a dwarflike creature wearing a pointy hat, who looks suspiciously like the East-German Sandmännchen...or, rather, the East German Sandmännchen looks suspiciously like the Dornacher Purzel.

Dornacher Purzel (above), pattern available here.

Sandmaennchen, German Democratic Republic (GDR)

On closer inspection, Waldorf and Waldorf - inspired knitting patterns turn out to be rather interesting, at least the ones I was able to track down. They seem to resemble a knit recipe rather than a rigidly written pattern and project instructions are conveyed with the help of basic schematics as well as elaborate written explanations. At least this applies to the various doll patterns available on the site:

Waldorf Knitted Cat, available here.

Waldorf Knitted Cat, available here.

What makes the style so appealing to me is ultimately its simplicity, as the shaping is achieved by intelligent sewing instead of extensive decreasing or increasing when knitting, which basically turns the projects into origami with fabric and needles.

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