Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Holiday Knitting and My Mom

Making presents for Christmas was always a tradition in my family. I think it may have started during the depression, when my parents' parents didn't have any money to purchase presents. I remember my mother telling me about how her father would glue colored pictures (from magazines? calendars?) to a piece of wood and then cut it into pieces with his jig-saw making jigsaw puzzles!!

My mother always made each of us (five of us) a new outfit or new pajamas for Christmas. Usually it was a new outfit, and for the girls, a matching outfit for our dolls. One Christmas she made a three piece wool suit (jacket, pleated skirt, vest) for my teenage sister, in addition to making items for everyone else. And, she made everything in secret. How, on earth, did she do this??

My dad also made things, such as a doll house one year. It was a simple ranch home with a removable roof and removable walls. He also gave us a discarded wallpaper book. We decorated the walls and floors with ever changing wall paper! We also made furniture out of boxes and cardboard.

These days my dad makes beautiful wood items for each of us, carefully turned decorations, lovely boxes with fitted joints and inside shelves. As they've aged, my dad's creations have become smaller and more intricate and my mom's have become simpler. Sometimes she makes placemats or decorative pillows out of sale item placemats!

One thing my mother never did was to knit. She was a seamstress who hated making "fabric" stitch by stitch. Knitting was not relaxing to her. She learned to knit in the late 1940's when all the girls made argyle socks for their boyfriends. No wonder she didn't like to knit, when you first project is argyle socks, who could ever fall in love with the process???!!!

However, she must have knit a little when I was young. She described knitting wool soakers, felted wool diaper covers in the days when rubber was in short supply after "THE" war. No wonder babies in those days were "trained" early!

My mom also must have made two wool ascot style scarves that were in our mitten/scarf/hat drawer throughout my childhood and that of my four siblings. There was a smaller pink scarf and a larger red one. The little kids wore the pink one and graduated to the red one at some point. I'm not sure what my brothers did--maybe they went straight to the red one. Those scarves are long gone, but they looked like this.

The neck portion was just long enough to go around our necks, outside of our jackets, as I recall.
The ends looked like little hearts, I always thought, or maybe triangles, or spades from the deck of cards.
The narrow part was a little pass through for inserting the other end. The flanges of the heart end prevented the end from slipping out.

A few years ago, while teaching elementary school kids how to knit, I 'unvented' the pattern from my memory of what the scarves looked like. I'm sure there must be published patterns around, but I haven't seen them. I made this scarf as a sample and the kids liked making it. It may be the first scarf ever finished by a beginning knitter!!

At any rate, I resurrected the pattern for my knitters' guild charity knitting challenge. Instead of a knit along this year, we are making monthly items for donation to local charities and schools. For November, the item is kids scarves. You can find the pattern here, scroll down to the second half of the post--look for the photos.

If you make one of these scarves, consider donating one to your favorite local charity. And, think of all the moms, whose skills, care and love kept us warm during the cold winters!!

Meanwhile, I am busy knitting items for presents this winter. I flit from project to project, beginning many, finishing few. Photos and more later.