Tuesday, December 11, 2012


My mother's knitting needles and great-grandmother's doily

This morning I read an email from my dear friend and maid-of-honor, Ethel.  She wrote,

Today is my day off and I plan to KNIT KNIT KNIT.  This year I am doing it this way:

Knit the back of Zach's Sweater.
Knit the back of Grace's Sweater
Knit the front of Zach's Sweater.
Knit the front of Grace's Sweater
Knit the left sleeve of Zach's Sweater.
Knit the left sleeve of Grace's Sweater
Knit the right sleeve of Zach's Sweater.
Knit the right sleeve of Grace's Sweater
Finish and seam Zach's Sweater.
Finish and seam  Grace's Sweater.

That way, they will both get them at the same time.  Hopefully on Christmas Day.  But this time I am letting them watch me as I knit.  That way (1) they will appreciate the time and work, and (2) they will know what to expect when it is done. 

Sounds like a plan, Ethel!  And knowing you, there's one more thing your grandchildren will see beside the time and work: the love that goes into every stitch.

The email set me thinking about some handmade items around my house.  I have two bedspreads that were crocheted by my great-grandmother, ready for use on my guest beds when needed.  There are beautiful tablecloths embroidered by my grandmother, and others hand-woven by an aunt during the cold winter months at the mouth of the St. Lawrence in Quebec, Canada.  Doilies, potholders, aprons, and place mats, lovingly made by relatives, find a special place in every room of my house.  In my hope chest there's a sweater my mother knit for my younger brother, worn by my sons, and waiting until my grandson is the right size to enjoy its warmth.  I own three vests Mom knit that are hopelessly dated and I'll probably never wear them again, but there's no chance they'll leave my closet since just seeing them brings back a warm memory.

As I got dressed to come to the shop, I chose a sweater my mother made for me 50 years ago.  There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of stitches in it, each one knitted with love.  When I wear it, it's like being hugged by a woman I have missed everyday for over eighteen years.

This morning, I completed knitting a cap for my son to wear skiing.  I hope that he'll think of me and my love occasionally when he wears it, or at least before he tosses it into the washing machine and ruins it!

During the Colonial period and early days of our nation, women seldom inherited land, but rather received what was known as "moveable estate," more often than not, textiles.  It may not have been equitable, but I imagine it was well loved and valued.

What memories are you making this holiday season?


  1. I totally relate. There is a sweater in my hope chest which I made for my self. Cables and diamonds. Matching hat. When I accidentally shrunk it, I gave it to my daughter (then 7 or 8) and she wore it constantly (the BIG look was in). Now Gracie wants me to open my hope chest next time she comes over so she can have OUR sweater. Of course she can.

    1. How wonderful that what many may have thrown away, you have made into a family tradition! My son's new hat came about as a request to replace an earlier one I made that went through the wash. When I scolded him (not easy as he is a 39 year old 6"4" man, but as a mother I was able to) he told me it now fits my granddaughter very well! At least he learned something from me even if it wasn't good laundry skills!

  2. I also treasure items that were made by other members of my family. The memories that go with the prom dresses, children's clothing and wedding outfits shouldn't be lost. I just finished making a Christening dress from the wedding dress my mother made for my sister. Her daughter-in-law is thrilled that her children will have it for their children. It isn't just a dress; it's a symbol of family love.

    1. How fortunate that you are able to do this and for a young woman that obviously will appreciate every stitch and pass it on to her own children. Most of the children in our family were Christened in a gown made by my great-grandmother from the wedding dress she made for my grandmother. One of my cousins has created a written history that travels with the gown each time a new member is welcomed into the family and the church. You are so right - it is a symbol of family love.

  3. I can't knit to save my life but I do appreciate the skill and love involved in making beautiful things.You are very creative!!
    I have been meaning to get in touch for ages but ordinary life has a habit of getting in the way so I am glad I finally got round to it!
    Thanks for this lovely site. Blessings

  4. If there were not people such as yourself to appreciate the work of crafters, it would be so much less satisfying to create. And fortunately, life does not depend on knit one, purl two! My brother tells me I was in your neck of the woods this past spring. Cornwall was beautiful, but our visit there was much too short. I was able to find a couple of skeins of yarn in Polperro and knitting with them brings back memories of a lovely day. Be well.

    1. Thanks Ruth. I saw some of your Cornwall photos and of Glendalough in Wicklow, Ireland too. Another beautiful place. I live further down in South Cornwall, but the whole county of Cornwall has many picturesque spots.If I'd known you were coming I'd have baked a cake,as the song says!
      We share a delight in cruise holidays too. The joys of retirement :-))

  5. my husband and I were in your shop Sunday - we enjoyed talking to you!! I am glad you have a blog!! I didn't realize it when I was talking about visiting you on my blog!!

  6. It was nice to meet you and your husband. You were very patient while I slipped into my history teacher mode! Best of luck with your quilt - maybe it will be a memory for someone one day!