Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Leper Day!

Leper Bandage from Quick Tricks, Book 188, 1968

Actually, today is when Hawaiians honour the heroic life of Father Damien, who vastly improved the lives of lepers banished to Molokai Island during the 1800s. Who cares about some 19th century leper priest, you ask? I’ll have you know that Saint Damien of Molokai’s fans include Robert Louis Stevenson, Mahatma Gandhi, and the people of Belgium who recently voted him De Grootste Belg AKA The Greatest Belgian!

Eep! Hang on, let me find a picture that makes him look less like a Cyberman from Doctor Who.

Ah, that’s better. I suspect Father Damien was also in the running for the cutest Belgian!

Now, I confess everything I know about leprosy, I learned from Stephen R. Donaldson’s whiny longsuffering leper protagonist Thomas Covenant and the heartbreaking scene in Ben Hur when John Candy discovers his mother and sister have become leopards lepers.

Thankfully, the editor of Quick Tricks decided to encourage the 1968 housewife to make something more useful than a clown to store mothballs (I kid you not). So, now I’ve learned that leprosy isn’t the highly communicable scourge that people feared for thousands of years. In fact, 95% of the world’s population is immune to leprosy and effective treatments for the disease have been available since 1982. Which means Thomas Covenant owes Lord Foul an apology for the events of White Gold Wielder – I mean, today is a day to celebrate the end of ignorance and a brighter future for those afflicted with the disease.

For the complete pattern (and more leprous commentary!):

Leper Bandage A-745

The approved bandage that church groups make to send to leper colonies.
Accept no substitutes!
CLARK’S ANCHOR CRONITA: 2 balls of No. 1 White.

Millard “Disc” Knit Needles 1 pair No. 12 (2.50mm.).

Cast on 25 sts.

1st row: Sl first st as if to purl, knit to end of row.

Repeat first row until only 1 yard of thread remains on second ball. Bind off.
Now, it’s true that leper colonies are mostly a thing of the past, but Father Damien is also the patron saint of AIDS and HIV patients and all other outcasts. Which means the endangered April Fish of Antwerp counts.

So, you’ve got plenty of time to knit or crochet up something for charity to mark Father Damien’s worldwide feast day on May 15th.

Just don’t make anyone a Mothball Clown, or Father Cyberman will make you pay!

Click here for the printable pattern.


  1. Um, when I saw the photo my first thought was "who'd want knitted toilet paper?!?"
    Seems like it'd be a bit scratchy for either purpose, actually.

  2. Isn't it amazing how many things can be made by hand rather than mass produced!

  3. Emerald - it does look like toilet paper, doesn't it? Now I've got a vision in my head of the anxious family members standing in front of Mom saying, "Are you done knitting up the toilet paper, yet? We've got to use the bathroom!" Lol!

    Sel and Poivre - I know! I'd never really considered where bandages came from, before you could buy them in rolls at the drugstore. It definitely makes me grateful for industrialization, when I think of all the hours and hours of work people would have had to put into making bandages by hand.

  4. Who knew ?
    Your blog is awesome -- and educational!

  5. Thanks! I'm having a blast researching these posts. :-)