"I have never felt that anything really mattered but the satisfaction of knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed and had done the very best you could." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knit & Crochet Blog Week

First, I can thank Twisted Knitter for getting me in touch with the week-long event that you can read more about here.

Today's topic is:

Starting Out -
How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? Was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

Well, I think that I have posted about this in the past; however, I am too lazy at the moment to draft this and search for it. If I find the post, I'll edit to link. Otherwise, this will be the official story.

We lived in Memphis (Cottonwood/Parkway Village) and my paternal grandparents lived very close. My Aunt Patricia was their baby and she is only eight years older than me. Until I was old enough to babysit my brothers and sister, she was our designated sitter. She was and still is a very crafty woman. She was crocheting purses out of Macrame string and I was captured. I kept insisting that she needed to teach me how to crochet. She finally decided that for my tenth birthday she would give me a beginner's crochet present. I got some Red Heart yarn (950 - Mexicana is the closest to that 1970's version) a size I hook and a Crochet Made Easy booklet.

The next time she babysat, we started with chains and by the end of that night, I was making three row book markers. Very exciting indeed. I practiced and practiced. The next lesson was granny squares. Oh boy, I made them in every size and color I could. By the time she sat for us again I had thirty squares and I learned how to join then for an afghan. The final lesson was a purse. Nothing exciting, just a simple granny square purse with a draw-string closure and a cloth lining that I made on my hand-me-down Singer.

For the next two years I made baby blankets and ponchos (the rage in the 70's). I was getting bored with the craft and had started sewing. I was making my own sundresses and tops and discovered that I could make more with the sewing machine than I could with the crochet hook. My Aunt had never shown me how to make sweaters. Shortly after my twelfth birthday party, we were at my grand parents' house and my Aunt was making something with two needles.....again I was enraptured by the process. After only one month of badgering she broke down and taught me to knit.

Again, we made squares to practice stitches and technique. Once I had enough we joined them together for another afghan. I made about a dozen scarves as I recall before I ventured into anything else. My first garment was a baby sweater. Bad choice for a novice. It was made on teeny tiny needles and was complicated. I finished it but I think it became my baby sister's doll coat. I dabbled off and on with knitting until we moved from Memphis to Charleston WV. At that point, High School and dating got in the way. I think it was about five years before I picked it up again.

At that point I was really rusty and there were very few people my age that even had a clue, so I had to ask around at work and church for some "assistance". I found a wonderful woman at the bank where I worked that patiently re-taught me a few things and I was off knitting again. I made a lot of vests, again popular in the 80's. I did not know about the joy of a Local Yarn Store until I went to NYC to see my Aunt one summer right before I moved to TX. At that time she was one of the designers of sweaters for Ralph Lauren and she took me to some of the most amazing places in NYC. She bought me yarns that are no longer even made (companies closed) but for the time period they were decadent.

I moved to TX and began to make sweaters and vests for everyone again. I also learned how to construct garments and took on baby items again, as I was pregnant with Stephanie (now 27). When I saw my Aunt again, she was getting married and we were in NYC for the wedding. She was so happy to see me with my WIP. I noticed that the men in the ceremony all had matching ties and socks. She had knitted the ties and the socks. I wanted to learn socks right then. Silly me...she couldn't teach me that visit due to her pending nuptials. But my Aunt Margaret, who was Pat's Sister-In-Law (married my Uncle Chuck who is only ten years older than me). She took me to a LYS and we got some sock yarn and a set of size 2 (US) dpn's which I still have to this day.

She took me aside and when Stephanie was sleeping or in her Grand mother's arms, I was getting lessons. Aunt Margaret was from the old school of knitting and resisted circulars up until the day she died. She insisted that I learn how to make socks the "proper" way and that was all there was to it. I learned but I hated dpn's and still resist them to this day, unless there is no other option.

Over the years I have learned top down knitting, magic loop, fair isle, argyle, cables, lace and many other techniques but I have never forgotten the two Aunts that made certain that my love for fiber was well fed and educated. I have not been able to teach either of daughters yet; however, I did teach SWCNLBN's niece Jillian to knit. I was also honored to have Grandma Grace (SWCNLBN's paternal grand mother) teach me how to make Pixie Slippers. They were from an OLD knitting booklet and she had it memorized. She carefully wrote it down and when I got home from the visit, I typed it out and saved her hand-written one for posterity.

I will look through my stash of pictures and see if I can find any of these old projects. If I do, I'll scan them and add them to a post....

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