Organizing Inherited Knitting Archives and Thinking of the Future

An elderly knitting friend who is cleaning her basement recently gave me several inches of paper. I’ll give it a good home, and we expect my daughter will do so after me.

Most of it is going into the library or my filing cabinet, but a huge amount of carefully-collected, valuable information is being recycled.

There’s a chart of all the wools sold by a shop in Kingston, with price (no date), and on the back they’re sorted by recommended gauge. There’s another showing all Pattons’ lines by gauge. An email from her friend with an unusually clear explanation of turning a heel, and collected advice from the author’s knitting group for preventing holes. An outdated set of requirements for the Knitting Masters. Instructions for three different stretchy cast-ons and two ways to do jogless stripes. Several catalogs from a designer I know is online.

Often, when I ask myself, “Can I find this elsewhere?” the answer is, “Yes, on Ravelry. If Rav doesn’t have it, someone there will point me in the right direction. The online version will be more complete (not limited to one store or line) and more current. Often with bigger pictures and helpful comments.”

That’s not to say Rav has reduced the paper in my house. This pattern looks as good as everyone says, that one looks interesting, this one is even closer to what I was looking for than the last one I printed. Save paper by printing two or four pages per side to save paper, then realize it’s too small, then there’s something on the back that shouldn’t go into my archives. (When will basic printers double-side without attention?)

Often, though, I see something online and restrain myself. It will wait for me online, much better than it will wait on the shelf at the bookstore or library.

This project is reminding me how much we rely on the internet these days, and not just for current needs. We expect it, and everything on it, to be there for as long as we need it.

I suppose that’s no more an act of faith than leaving my files in a non-fireproof cabinet, but it’s a new type of faith.

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