Thursday, September 26, 2013


My mom taught me to knit, maybe we learned at the same time, as she was teaching herself to knit from a book when we lived at Fort Bragg, NC. My dad was stationed in Korea for 13 months, so we had a lot of time on our hands. I was in the 3rd grade. I remember sitting on the couch knitting, making squares or rectangles and turning them into clothes for Barbie.

knitting sampler

Later when my dad retired we moved to remote Fannin County, Georgia, rural Appalachia, very scenic but also very isolated. With a long winter ahead, I found this pattern for a sampler afghan, got some yarn and started to make my first blanket. Every square was a different pattern, a great way to learn new stitches and to not get bored with such a big project. I used two different shades of blue for the squares and added black borders around each one. I think my mom was skeptical about such a daunting task, but with nothing else to do, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, I did it! It was the perfect project for a teenage girl (age 13 or 14) who loved to spend hours in her room, I remember sitting on my bed with the chenille bedspread, listening to the latest tunes on the radio.  

I found this picture online, it looks just like mine (except for the fringe). Photo credit - posted with permission of Anne Hanson from This afghan was made by Anne's grandmother in the 1950s and is featured in the book My Grandmother's Knitting. Thanks again Anne for the picture, it is just like I remember it (mine), which brought back lots of memories.

Like other priceless heirlooms, unfortunately I lost this blanket when I stored it in the basement in a cardboard box… ruined beyond repair with the ravages of water and mold and critters and time… a lesson learned the hard way, now I own stock in Rubbermaid Totes.

Which brings me to why I remembered this story, I just finished reading Free Range Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I didn't really set out to find a book about knitting, but I kept seeing it and it had such good reviews, I decided to try it. Not so much about knitting as about a knitter and funny stories about life, had me laughing out loud a few times! Like the picture she paints of her getting off the elevator not knowing that her ball of yarn had slipped out of her pocket until the door closes, the look on her face as she is left holding her knitting project that is attached to that yarn, her eyes watching the elevator numbers climb as her yarn gets taut. And how she shocked the folks on the bus when she tried on the sock she was making, "a toeless sock with a spiky crown of deadly looking needles stuck in it." But my favorite part is the series of letters with the Customer Service department at Winterwool, Inc., regarding an unfinished project and discontinued yarn. The correspondence starts out cordially with "Dear Stephanie - Thank you for your inquiry" and then deteriorates rapidly, finally ending in "Madam - Please stop calling me, and for the love of God, walk away from the sweater. It's just not worth it."

I like to buy yarn in person so I can see how it feels. But you can shop online, like at Lion Brand Yarn. On their web-site recently I was looking at a free pattern and the options for download. Listed were: Save, e-mail, help, print, download, Pin it, braillers. The braillers buttons says: "This pattern is designed for use with Duxbury Braille software and similar products." I found this very interesting. I can understand reading the pattern in braille, but how would one actually knit blindly with dangerous pointy needles? Wow, I am once again counting my blessings.

At this point in time, I have been knitting away on dishcloths, it has kind of gotten out of hand, the stack is getting bigger. They are fun to make, and I am giving some away, saving some to go with another project that I am supposed to be working on. But it is time to think about Christmas gifts now, I wonder what to make? Scarves are pretty quick and easy, but I think the girls {granddaughters} probably are cringing about now if they are reading this - another scarf? What I really need to do is teach all of them to knit, maybe one of them will make a sampler afghan like their old granma did when she was a teenager!

"Teach someone to knit and they're warm for life." ~Selma Moss-Ward
(from a story written for Lion Brand yarns)

~photo credit: Pitcher of Knitting Needles used with permission of Country Living


knitspot anne said...

what a great story, thank you for sharing your memories!

Gypsy Quilter said...

What a wonderful afghan. Very sad that it's now gone. However, I'm sure it taught you a lot of great stitches and that knowledge is never lost. Thanks for sharing.

Linda J said...

wonderful post, Susan!