The photo on the right above is from the Quick Tricks, Book 188, published by Coats and Clark's in 1968. And no, that pattern is not intended to be used in the way you might have thought it was. Even the most bored of houswives wouldn't have thought clogging up her plumbing was a good use of her time, unless she had an incredibly hot plumber or something. No, those are not rolls of knitted toilet paper, but leper bandages. And I was all set to start making jokes about this pattern, had in fact written some of them, until I did a little research and found out that, bizarre as it was to include such a pattern in a booklet with all the frivolous and hideous items shown on the cover, a knitted leper bandage pattern isn't just some useless artifact. I deleted the jokes that suddenly didn't seem the least bit funny and decided to tell you about the actual need for handmade leper bandages in today's world.
Though leprosy can now be prevented, treated, and cured, and though approximately 95% of the world's population is immune to leprosy, there is still leprosy and leper colonies in some third-world countries where lack of proper food and bedding and contaminated water contribute to the spread of the bacteria that causes leprosy. Handmade leprosy bandages are needed for wrapping the stumps of leprosy patients because the handmade bandages breathe better than mass-manufactured gauze or bandages, and can be sterilized for reuse. The D.O.V.E. Fund Bandage Brigade, an offshoot of the non-profit D.O.V.E. (or Development of Vietnam Endeavors) Fund, is one organization that collects and transports handmade leper bandages to remote leper villages in Vietnam. Since they first organized in 2008, they've transported more than 15,000 bandages, usually in the luggage of D.O.V.E. mission volunteers en route to Vietnam. If you'd like to contribute to their efforts, they have instructions for either knitting or crocheting bandages on their website. If you've been looking for a charity that needs your knitting or crochet skills, making those bandages will be as easy as charity handiwork gets, and you could hardly make anything more useful.