Friday, September 04, 2009

Outdoor Seating

A "sit-upon" is described by the 1940 Girl Scout Handbook as follows: "It is not wise to sit or lie on damp ground, so put your sweater or "sit-upon" under you. A sit-upon is a piece of waterproof material about eighteen inches square that a wise hiker carries along in a compact roll to use while resting, eating, or sitting around the campfire."

I decided to knit myself one after a long, cold day of rock climbing last January, when I spent many hours sitting on freezing rocks. My sit-upon is knit in a ribbed cable with a rugged worsted wool, which yields a dense, reversible, and doubly-thick fabric. An oilcloth backing makes it waterproof.

Here is the pattern for you, just in time for autumnal hikes, picnics, and football games. I'll also be putting this on Ravelry as a free download.

Small (17" wide x 15" tall), Medium (20.25" x 17"), Large (23.5" x 19")
note: You can knit it to any size by casting on more stitches (repeats of 8 stitches) and knitting more rows (repeats of 8 rows). I started with such a small size to make it fit in my climbing pack.

* Yarn: S [M,L] takes 2 [2,3] skeins of Bartlett Yarns Fisherman 2-ply (100% wool; 210 yds/4 oz) in the color "Bark"
* Knitting Needles: US 7/4.5mm circular needle, at least 24" long
* Notions: cable needle, tapestry needle
* Waterproof backing (optional): oilcloth or vinyl fabric. I made holes along the edge of the oilcloth with a small (3 mm) holepunch and crocheted it to the knitted sit-upon with a F-5/3.75 mm hook.

16 st/24 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch

K = knit
P = purl
C8B = "cable 8 back": Slip next 4 stitches to cable needle and hold to back of work; [K1,P1] twice from the left needle, then [K1,P1] twice from the cable needle

* Cast on: 128 [160, 184] stitches
* Bottom edge: knit in [K1, P1] ribbing for 5 rows
* Main fabric: knit a cable row by knitting across in C8B, then knit seven rows of [K1, P1] ribbing. Repeat these 8 rows until piece measures 14" [16", 18"] tall
* Top edge: work one more cable row, then [K1, P1] ribbing for 5 rows
* Bind off

Weave in ends using the tapestry needle.
If you want to add an oilcloth backing, cut a piece of oilcloth to fit the size of the knit fabric. Punch holes approximately every quarter inch (6 mm) along the four edges of the oilcloth. Attach the backing to the knit fabric with single crochet or simple sewing stitches (blanket or whip stitch). Alternatively, you could attach it with velcro or by machine- or hand-sewing.



  1. Thanks ~ this would be perfect for watching fall games outside on those cold aluminum grandstands!!

  2. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Thanks! I'll make this for the upcoming hockey season when I spend too many hours on cold, hard arena benches

  3. Very cool. Although something I never actually thought of! I guess I've just accepted wet bums! Maybe time to change that? :)

  4. I don't consider myself that old, but I vaguely remember making a sit-upon back in Girl Scouts! How fun. Thanks for the memories.

  5. very nice! scarily enough my mom still has my original sit 35 years later! I am going to have to make this one! thanks!!

  6. Ohhhhh! Now I know what my knit pals at group meant by sit upons. They have this inside funny story about the one's they made and they laugh and snort so much while they tell it, I have never really gotten an answer about what is actually is. Long run on sentence sorry

  7. You're so clever. What a useful little mat. I'd like to make one as a Christmas gift for a hiker friend.
    thank you for sharing.

  8. Sarah8:00 AM

    This is great! My girl guides sit-upons were always made of of woven newspapers taped into a clear plastic bag - this is much nicer!

  9. What a beautiful, useful thing. I definitely could use this on my cool autumn hikes, for our tea and cookies break at a lookout.

    Thanks for this pattern!

  10. Oh! I am old. When I went to Campfire Girl camp they always told us to bring a sit-upon, but never told us exactly what that was. They also prohibited Peter Pan collars, which made no sense either. (Campfire is now Boys and Girls, and it is now a child care program not at all like Girl Scouts any more.)

  11. How clever! I remember situpons too, but this one looks much more comfortable, not to mention stylish ;) Thanks for sharing your pattern!

  12. I remember the term sit upon from my old gg days. This would also work well for watching a hockey game at the arena. Last week was the first one I went to of the season and I wasn't expecting the arena to be so frosty. Yet their was young teens in the arena wearing their short shorts and tank tops....brrrrrh

  13. Great idea! Beautiful outcome!

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  15. I love this! Casting on now!