Monday, February 08, 2010

Then Again, Let's Not

For Your Special Day

Confession time.

There are moments when I feel ungentlemanly for shooting peas at these old magazines. Part of it has to do with being a budding designer myself, and wondering which things I'm putting out there will some day make the Hit Parade of a "You Knit What?" as yet unborn.

The other part stems from an honest-to-goodness feeling of gratitude for publications like Workbasket. That plucky little thing toodled along for sixty years–a magnificent run for a periodical by anyone's standards–even though by the mid-1970s knitting and crochet were both on life support. Granted, Workbasket was heavy with flights of fancy that should have been grounded on the tarmac. Toward the end, fiber arts content was heavily supplemented with forays into tuna cookery and making your own beef jerky. But the editors kept putting it out there, month after month, long after more mainstream mags like Woman's Day and Family Circle had given up on any craft that required mastery of an actual skill.

On the other hand, just when I'm in danger of smudging the faded ink with tears of thankfulness, I turn the page and run into something like this.

Lady Knob

In case they don't have doors where you come from, this is a doorknob cover. In case they don't have doorknob covers where you come from, you may be wondering why a doorknob needs a cover.

Me too.

I have encountered doorknob covers in real life–including several sisters, cousins and aunts of the Scary Clown variation shown below. They were to be found on various knobs around my paternal grandmother's house when I was a little boy, and I hated them.

Clown Knob

When you are five years old, and small for your age at that, a doorknob cover is less a piece of handmade whimsy than a torture device. The doorknobs on the heavy old doors in grandma's house were either metal or china. They were slippery when nude. Tricked out in equally slippery acrylic, they became almost entirely impossible to turn, even with both hands.

And there was one on the bathroom door.

Place yourself, if you will, in the tiny shoes and underpants of a newly housebroken child who has had three glasses of Kool Aid and has just felt the alarming and unmistakeable call of nature. He heads for the commode, but finds the way barred by the immovable head of a smirking clown. He struggles, he bangs, he cries a little bit.

Finally, in desperation, he goes against everything Grandma and Sunday School have taught him rather than face the shame of admitting to the grown-ups that there's been an accident.

Grandma, if you're reading this, I used one of your good tablespoons to bury the doorknob cover over by where the plum tree used to be. I'm sorry. The tree is long gone; but since the clown face was made out of Red Heart, it's probably still there. At least you didn't have to mop the hallway.

98 comments:

Celeritas said...

I didn't think there was anything scarying in a toilet than a barbie doll toilet roll cover, I was wrong.

Connie said...

You are hilarious!! Thanks for brightening my day!

Marcia said...

Ahh, Workbasket - I SO recognize that cover photo! My mom had a subscription for years, and as a geeky 12ish year old, I spent hours and hours looking through them and even making a category index for the whole box of them (several years' worth).

That box got lost over the years and many moves, but my mom picked up a box of them at a thrift shop recently, and we spent an evening looking through them to see which ones we wanted to keep. It was very nostalgic to see a lot of the old covers I recognized. But I didn't find ANY patterns I wanted to keep :)

Weedwacker said...

That scary clown can give a five year old nightmares! I'll bet his head spins too!

Katie said...

I always thought doorknob covers were meant to be used on doors that opened to the outside. My grandma in Cleveland had them on all the outside doors, but only during the winter when the metal would get cold. My dad would always rip them off at Christmas because he couldn't turn the knobs. :)

Susan Flockhart said...

This made me laugh out loud - I'm loving this little series of vintage commentaries.

PenCraft said...

I can't even imagine a doorknob cover. Reading your post makes me really sad, not because of anything you said, but because I mailed about 90 copies of ancient knitting magazines to myself from Australia last time I visited and either the Aussie postal workers or the American postal workers managed to rip open the package and dump most of them out. I got about a third when the package finally arrived. I know this is pretty much totally irrelevant to your post--but I have to vent somewhere. Your post makes me think about all the wonderful things I could have added to my Ravelry queue, doorknob covers and all.

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

That scary clown cover looks astonishingly like Carrot Top...

Kayten said...

I love you.

Virginia said...

the wedding dress is VERY frightening to me. I'm going to have nightmares.

The doorknob covers also. But not nearly as scary as that wedding dress.

And I think it's totally fine that you're shooting peas at these magazines. I mean, really, what decade is better for ridicule than the 70s? (cept maybe the 80s?)

Rana said...

Somewhere in the Christmas decorations box, we have a Santa doorknob decoration. It's crocheted, has a fuzzy beard, and a jingle on its hat. I can think about it through the soft veil of nostalgia, but readily admit it made using doorknobs difficult; it usually ended up on a linen closet as a result.

There are modern versions of the doorknob cover, btw. I happen to own, for reasons that are now unclear, a glow-in-the-dark vampire Garfield the Cat head that's supposed to go on a doorknob. It's like an orange, fanged version of one of those cuffs you put on doors to keep toddlers from getting into trouble.

Anonymous said...

Liz

I have heard of doorknob covers, but only for the purpose of intentionally keeping children from using the door. (Google "grip n twist".) I cannot imagine putting one on the bathroom door.

Grey Listening said...

I, also, was taught that doorknob covers were to keep little kids from being able to open the door. Maybe your grandmother didn't want you using her bathroom? So she wouldn't have to clean it?

Geek Knitter said...

Franklin, I must commend you for you psychic skills. You have once again written a Laugh Out Loud post on a day when I have been wanting to either weep or throw things around my office.

ellenspn said...

OMG! I think someone gave me that issue of Workbasket back in the late 80's!!!! EEEK!

Stacey said...

My grandmother had the kindest soul and would swap out the scary clown knob covers with flower ones when I would visit, as she knew I would rather pee my self than open the bathroom door with clown face of doom staring me down. She had to keep the covers on as my youngest sister would always blacken an eye or put a bruise on her head running around the house and run into the bathroom door knob. She also made a weinerdog draft blocker from Workbasket.

anne marie in philly said...

O...M...G...you poor sweet little boy!

(giggles) it would be interesting to see if that red heart doorknob cover was still buried there...

Norma said...

You Might Be A Redneck if you love that wedding gown. And I think I might possibly be a redneck. Or I came of age in the '70s. One or the other. Or both.

And I dare to say this in your comments. I am not sure what this further says about me.

:)

Anonymous said...

Rachel, I'm glad I'm not the only one who immediately thought, "Carrot Top? Is that you?"

Judith

Roggey said...

So relieved I'm not the only one that thinks the clown doorknob cover looks like Carrot Top. Equally frightening in my book.

dianecus said...

I have a 100% made of acrylic awesome Santa door cover my grandma made some time in the '70s. It comes out annually and perches on the front closet door. It has a couple of bells too. Fully featured. I'll Santa over that clown any day.

Julia said...

It's funny--just a few days ago I went out through the front door of our house (rarely used) and was struck by how cold it was. It never occurred to me that there was a technology already in use to combat the problem. My biggest worry was heat being lost on the other side of the door--think of the knob as a big heat wick bleeding BTUs out into the great big cold world. I wonder whether a doorknob cover on an exterior door would help with this...? Maybe I should get on it...

Terri said...

I have never liked "popcorn" crochet, and for a bride, well let's just say they blew the top off of this cover! I agree with Rachel and thought the top was Marilyn, but should have been Lucy, or Lucy gone blonde.

Suzann said...

I have all the Workbaskets. Some I collected, but a lot were given to me by desperate tatters. Many of the tatting patterns are very clever. The directions are arcane. Over the years I have updated the directions and stored them on disk. The company that bought Workbasket doesn't even know what was published in the past. I have permission from them to update the patterns and post them on my website. But I think I will be dead or too old to see before I am done.
The paper that Workbasket was printed on was awful. And they are crumbling away. When they are gone the patterns will be gone also. And that will be sad.

As a budding knitting designer you might be interested to know that many of the tatting designers were paid .25 cents for their work.

Must have been fun for the bride to sit on all those popcorns :-}

seashells said...

thank you...

Yvonne said...

Just when the clown nightmares had pretty much ended....

Kristen said...

I so love you!

ISABELLA said...

Carrot top lives

LauraRose said...

"The quality of your readers' experience" is unmatched for hilarity.
fleece and love

janna said...

My grandma subscribed to Workbasket, but I'm pretty sure she never made any doorknob covers!

And I was glad that you realize that styles change and what is laughed at now was (usually) considered stylish or pretty at the time it was published. Every time I hear someone laughing at some style from the past, I wonder how soon someone will be laughing at whatever the fashions now....

Sue said...

I'm sorry, but I almost peed reading your memory. Hi-larious!

Liz said...

That wedding gown is hideous but the clown doodads are just plain scary. What were they thinking?

The really scary thing is that I had a subscription to the Workbasket back in the 80s. I wonder where they are?

annie said...

And the prize for Best Use of a Red Heart Clown Doorknob Cover goes to....Franklin! Clever boy.

=Tamar said...

I wonder whether a wool doorknob cover (a sock?) would grip the knob better. The idea of slowing down any of the BTUs going out of this house is very appealing.

Emily said...

Right after I read this post, I steamed up the bathroom with a hot shower, used my hands to put lotion on, and then COULD NOT open the slippery doorknob to let myself out of the bathroom! I was totally channeling your youthful experiences with doorknob covers. ;-)

Vermont Designs said...

WB was the only mag that had tatting patterns when I was learning that skill years ago. They only got paid .25? Ouch.

Susan said...

I know these are door knob covers, but possibly they could be door knocker covers. I know that then the knockers wouldn't knock, but at Christmas time everyone would think Marley was appearing on their door.

AlisonK said...

Blimey! I don't think doorknob covers made it across this side of the Atlantic, for which I am truly grateful. Loo roll covers shaped like dolls are bad enough.

The doorknob covers would be bad enough if they worked, but when they make it harder to turn the knob, they become not only preposterous but stupid. You did the right thing, burying one.

PS My word verification is "scone" which seems very UK appropriate!

Lea-Ann said...

I just can't help but think about the day the beautiful bride wore the homemade wedding dress down the aisle and how proud the mother or grandmother felt.

Doesn't matter what we think now, does it?

stellamarys said...

Oh Lordie, my grandmother made me one of those, in Santa shape, with bells hanging down, and rhinestone button eyes, and I love it. It comes out only briefly for Christmas - my husband hates it.

Chandra said...

THANK YOU for making me laugh this morning!

Miss Sandra said...

My non-knitting grandmother made doorknob covers out of felt and embellished them with ribbons, embroidery and beads. Same result, tiny hands couldn't get the bloody doorknob to turn. Never thought of burying them...you would have been handy to have around back then.

Barb B. said...

Actually, I am thinking Delores might just look cute as ol' hell in that wedding dress...

Linda S said...

My grandma specialized in crocheting attachments to kitchen towels so you could hang them on the refrigerator door without the towel getting bunched up. There was a button at one end. I have a couple of Christmas themed ones. They're kind of dorky, but actually pretty useful.

Jo Anne W-M said...

The wedding dress looks a lot like the vintage chenille bedspread I recently found for my daughter.

Seanna Lea said...

Why, oh why, does a doorknob need a cover? I cannot imagine putting any of those items on any of my doors! If I want to make them impossible for a child (or the cat) to open, I use latches at the tippy top.

I promise I won't put them on the bathroom door.

Emily said...

When I was pregnant, I was advised that we'd need doorknob covers (aka "socks")if we ever intended to have some privacy for the rest of our lives.

Good that you thought of burying it. I'd never have been so un-law-abiding!

FiberQat said...

I was fortunate to never have experienced door knob covers, toilet paper roll covers, or kleenex box covers at home or at the homes of relatives. So it was a shock to see them at the homes of friends' or at craft fairs my sister would take me to.

I can see door knob covers used for childproofing but on the doorknob of the bathroom? That's wrong.

Lisa said...

Doesn't that first doorknob cover (the blonde one) look rather like Dolores...?

kingshearte said...

I'd forgotten it, but this post did bring back some rather hazy memory of doorknob covers. I couldn't tell you whose house they were in, but I am thankful that at least they were relatively tasteful corcheted doily-like things, or something, I think, rather than those terrifying specimens.

Anyway, thanks for the dim, fuzzy pseudo-memory. :)

Sara in WI said...

That is so funny! You made my day!

sue said...

OMG, this made me laugh SO hard!

meg said...

The first Christmas Jonathan and I spent living under the same roof, he brought out two weird Santa Claus doorknob covers with buggy eyes that his grandmother crocheted and wanted to festoon the bedroom doorknobs. I vetoed them instantly.

Michele said...

Okay, you gave me an idea. I checked my collection of The Modern Priscilla (a "fancywork" magazine published 1890s-1930) for knitting stories and patterns. Knitting doesn't make its appearance until around 1916, is popular in the early twenties and then declines after that. However there is a story you will appreciate in the December 1919 issue about men who knit entitled "Manly artists in the Womenly Arts" the writing is hilarious (by today's standards), but there are some interesting vignettes of men who knit in the article. If I can figure out the ins and outs of the copyright, I post a copy on my blog.

Raveller said...

Oh my word, thanks for the laugh! I'm only glad that I never encountered one of those while growing up.

Anonymous said...

I just have to point out that many of us were not wearing bras or slips in those years. That would have been quite the wedding.

Leah

Shirley said...

I'm at my desk in tears trying not to laugh out loud.

Thanks so much!

knitkick said...

Maybe it's just me, but, really, that wedding dress just SCREAMS Mary Poppins. ...Every day's a 'oliday with Mar-yeee...

Shannon said...

OK, has anyone else noticed that despite the popcorn that wedding dress is um...transparent? Useful for post wedding, but kind of up there with door knob covers as inappropriate use of yarniness!

One More Stitch said...

The doorknob covers look like yarn voodoo!

Thanks for the big laughs again.

Ali P said...

Oh man...childhood flashbacks of doorknob covers. No crazed freaky clowns but just nasty grubby crochetted doorknobs.

schapercj said...

You know, I think you figured out what the doorknob covers were really for!

Knittease said...

Ha....I believe they make plastic doorknob covers these day, specifically and sadistically designed to keep small children from opening certain doors.....mindblowing, right?

peony said...

where I come from we do have doors, but no knobs... We use handles...
On the other hand I thought acrylic red heart is not the one to use soaking up anything wet... or is it?

more said...

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Miggsie said...

I've suffered from clown phobia my entire life. I also get pretty darn freaked out by the thought of needing to use the bathroom and not having access to one. So this post brought together my two worst fears into a single, hideous nightmare. Despite its terrifying content, it was actually hilarious - thanks for the laughs!

Red said...

I'm imagining the horror of having those things at eye-level! As we say here in the South, about your well-meaning granma: bless her heart.

wv: mablurk -- pronounced as 2 words. what the well-brought up Southern alien says instead of "bless her or his heart."

Ruth said...

The second one looks like Chucky. It scares me.

Necia said...

The wedding dress reminds me of the saying "it looks like it was made by loving hands at home." (Sadly, it's rarely a compliment...:-()

Anonymous said...

Dude, you killed a clown?!?
(Kudos!)

Sioux B said...

I actually have a knitted Santa doorknob cover that I pull out at the Yule. It adorns the knob on the hallway door that is Never Ever closed.

Caro said...

When my son was about three, he had a permanent lump on his forehead from walking into doorknobs. These covers might have saved his head, but he'd probably still have the psychological scars from being smacked in the face by a clown.

nosenabook said...

I shall cherish that wedding dress for as long as it remains at the top of the page.

Elaine said...

RE: Doorknob covers

You can use these to keep toddlers out of rooms you don't want them in. They're a lot nicer (I don't use quite the same design) than the plastic things sold in stores.

Janet said...

This is such a good entry Franklin - thanks. Those doorknob covers are infinitely better than the cheap plastic ones which are grandma proof.

Liz said...

I'd managed to escape those, so far... Making them with clown faces adds a whole new layer of malevolence. A decent burial was definitely the kindest way...

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago my dear husband purchased the Workbasket issue from the month/year I was born as a birthday gift. I treasure it... but I'm with you on the doorknob cover.

Years ago my mother used to wear a sun hat made from rectangles of Xray film with holes punched around the edges -then the rectangles were crocheted together to make a hat. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Workbasket pattern! She finally stopped wearing it when a friend who was an MD held the hat to the sun, looked at the Xrays and announced that he thought he saw some ball gas!

Anonymous said...

Isn't delores in the winte Olympics?

Kelly said...

OMG these old magazines are such easy pickings it is great! But I have to tell you that I spent my teens and college years in the 80's making blanket-sized sweaters out of Lopi yarn, and laughing at my mothers old 60's Bernat knitting mags. And wouldn't you know it now, those old fitted Bernats patterns are now cool vintage-wear! Don't think that the 80's will be back, though (we hope).

=Tamar said...

I think I have the answer to making heat-saving covered doorknob stay usable: sticky-backed Velcro. Then the thing won't slide around and could even add some grip.

Those good spoons were strong enough to dig with, unlike the wimpy pressed stainless steel of those days.

Karen said...

While reading this, I laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants!

Liz said...

As much as I want to make my daughter's wedding dress, when she does, in fact get married, I don't think this dress is what either one of us has in mind. But, thanks for the suggestion.

DanielleB said...

Thanks for treking to the western burbs last night - hopefully it was not as scary as the door knob covers.

Knit On

Patti said...

I always wonder, while I knit away on something *I* think is clever and beautiful, if my kids and grandkids just CRINGE at what they view as piece of crap that grandma made, much like I did at the crap my grandmother knit for me.... but I have not as yet inflicted a doorknob cover out of red heart on anyone, and I find that somewhat comforting.

Village Books said...

Hilarious! Peeing into it might have been an option too!

Susan said...

You do know that there is (well, was) a "You Knit What?" blog, right? It's not really "as yet unborn." (But I do hope you don't end up there either - on perhaps a resurrected version.) What a shame that its run is over for now. That was a great site (still is): http://youknitwhat.blogspot.com/

Ann said...

You know the old riddle: "What will be left after a nuclear holocaust?" Answer: "Cockroaches and Keith Richards."

I'm afraid we must amend it to read: "Cockroaches, Keith Richards, ...and Red Heart yarn."

Awntie Spyder said...

Hello Franklin just saw you in latest issue of Interweave Knits and I must say you look very butch.Thank you for blog Delores patterns inspiration laughter and delight.

Mary ~ Awntie
Portland Oregon

Patti said...

I just got my interweave knits in the mail, and THERE YOU ARE!!! right on page 7! and Delores of course :-)

emel said...

When I was small we had a cover on a doorknob that would bang into the wall when the door was opened. I've seen where knobs eventually chipped big round holes into the plaster. The doorknob cover was eventually replaced by a nifty invention that was a rubber bumper on a post that was screwed into the baseboard to keep the door from opening that far. (Yeah, I'm that old and it was in the sixties.) This was the only purpose that I ever knew of for a doorknob cover, although there are poeple who like to decorate anything with a doily or a bit of whimsy.

Stella said...

The issue you have shown sells for .75 cents but I used to buy my mother a full years subscription for $3.00. For a birthday present.
She loved it and made "something" out of every one she got. Yes, the bathroom tissue girls, but she did make a most favorite cardigan sweater for me too. Ah, we just didn't know any better in those days.

Jo in MN

Anonymous said...

First time reading your blog and I happened upon this entry. Now, that is an intro. Laughed until I almost needed to use one of those doorknob covers. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs

Karen said...

And sometimes, someone rights a blog post that hits your funny bone in just the right spot at just the right moment.

P.S. I think that clown looks like CarrotTop.

Karen said...

Ha! The clown had me so freaked out that I lost the ability to spell write!

Anonymous said...

That second door knob cover reminds me of a perm my mother gave me at the beginning of my senior year of high school.

That cover also reminds me of my fear of clowns...

Heather

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hanne said...

they are not out of fashion yet. I recently saw a doorknobcover in a new japanese crochetmagazine :) how scary is that ???

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