"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Mother Once Knitted Some Love

I was looking through the book My Grandmother's Knitting by Larissa Brown.It's such a lovely book with stories from various knitters/designers, some famous (i.e. Meg Swanson) and some not as much, about memories of family knitting - a dear read. The last portion is of knitting patterns, some vintage.

At the end of the introduction the author says, "I'm sure you have family memories as vivid as the ones retold on these pages. When I close my eyes, I can see Nanny and her summerhouse so clearly, from the big mimosa tree that we climbed and the pebbly front yard to the the fringed blankets on the pull-out couch. I can hear her voice telling me how to move my hands to form purls or eyelets, or exclaiming that I'll "'ruin my eyes' with the dark-colored yarn I preferred. And I can see her hands - lined like mine are becoming now - holding her cool metal needles. Close your eyes.  What do you see?"

So I did.  I closed my eyes and what I saw surprised me, and made my eyes cloud up a bit. I saw a pair of dark lavender knitting needles, 12 inches, size 2 and a little variegated green hat laying next to them. Those 2 items are in a neat little box tucked inside a drawer in my spare bedroom/craft room.

I was 6 years old and in the first grade in Muncie, Indiana. We lived a few blocks from Garfield School and I walked to and from school every day AND home and back for lunch. The first memory I have of that little hat is getting home from school one day for lunch and Mom being very excited that she had finished my hat.  It was green variegated wool. It is a bit itchy and I've never liked green too much. But at 6 years old, you don't really know those things.  I don't think my mom loves green either, so why she picked that yarn, we can't tell. Maybe someone gave it to her. I'm thinkin' it might have been Lion Brand back before acrylic was very common.

At any rate, it must have been a chilly day because she could hardly wait for me to put it on and wear it back to school. I suppose I ate lunch but I don't remember.

I was about 5 here but you can see all the doilies.
She did the pop bottles and starch thing.
What is amazing about this scenario is that my mom was an avid crochet-er. She still crochets from time-to-time but back then, she crocheted doilies by the dozens and sometimes sold them. 

My mother took this photo for her mother who lived 300 miles away.
After Grandma saw this, she told my mom, "Don't let those
children starve because of all your crocheting."

We always had lots of finely knitted, lacy doilies on our end tables and dresser tops and any other viable surface. Her mother had done the same and had taught my mother how to crochet. But that little green hat was the only thing my mom ever KNITTED.

As you may be able to see, the hat was garter stitch. She only knew the knit stitch, never learned to purl. And she had no pattern and knew nothing of decreasing so she just kind of gathered up the edges with thread and then sewed little braided ties to the ends.

I never cared for the look crocheted garments had in those days so when I was about 12, I wanted to learn to knit.  Mom didn't know any knitters so she dug up an old set of short, wooden knitting needles with one tip broken. She barely remembered the simple cast on and showed me how to do that and the knit stitch. She could not, however, give me any guidance as I struggled along. I remember knitting so tightly that I had to push the needle back out of each stitch with my left "pointer" and had a very sore fingertip! My one and only project for many years was that bright red head band on which I struggled to learn to knit. Don't know what ever happened to that thing but I do remember wearing it.

Years later in my late 20's, after I was spinning yarn, I realized I needed to learn to do something with the yarn, forgetting I had ever knitted. I had been meeting with the local spinning guild where most of the group were knitters. Someone showed me how she knitted on her project and so the next day I bought a set of needles to try what she showed me. The casting on came back to the forefront of my memory.  And then the knit stitch. At first I was impressed with myself at how easily I was learning to knit.  I mean, I must be some sort of genius or something. Until I had a flashback of those broken wooden needles and my garter stitched headband.  Eventually someone in the spinning group told me to do the opposite of the knit stitch and I'd have a purl.

(Even though I have stated that I don't care for green, I have in my possession some Lion Brand variegated green yarn, 100% acrylic, I might add, along with some Lion Brand black to knit one of our grandsons [whose favorite color is green] a Faire Isle hat for Christmas this year!)

Mom laughs with embarrassment now whenever we talk about the little green hat and then always adds, "I just wanted my little girl's ears to be warm." I suppose it all started back when my non-knitting mother once knitted me up some love.

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