Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sewing Beginnings Part II

No sewing for me from 1966 or so until around 1970, but I did learn to knit. This is a picture of where I spent most of my time from September of 1967 to August of 1968: Comer Hall in Auburn. What memories this picture brings back. I was secretary to the head of the Agricultural Economics Department, Dr. Joseph Yaeger. In looking for this picture, I see that he has co-authored a book about Ag Hill starting in the 1950s. I hope I can still get a copy of that. Anyway, although the work was boring (typing crop lists, or something like that, and sometimes typing for the grad students), there was a group of us, all very young, most newly married and away from home for the first time, and we would meet in a room next to my office for our breaks and lunch time.

There was also a very aloof-seeming middle-aged lady who came to work with her Welsh corgi every day on the 3rd floor. I want to say she was the home economics director, but I'm not sure, and I can't remember her name. I also can't remember why she started teaching us knitting, but it was a great success. It may have been that one of the girls was pregnant and wanted to knit bootees. I don't really know. But I do know that it became her mission to teach us to knit and teach us well. She didn't seem very approachable, but the more we knew her, the more we came to like her. She didn't put up with messy work or with just knitting squares. In a month or so we were knitting sweaters.

The first thing I did was a baby blanket, pink basket-weave. I got the yarn and needles at Grant's deparment store, and I'm sure that was not in our budget at that time. I was so proud of that blanket and kept it for years. No baby every used it though, because if she told me it was wool and not to wash it in hot water, I forgot. I guess it was before Gray was born when I was washing all the baby clothes that I put it in hot water and opened the dryer door to find a strange-looking pink pot holder.

We progressed from flat pieces to slippers - oh so many of those slippers with pom-poms on them - to stuffed animals to sweaters. She was such a good teacher and so patient, but she would make us take out rows and rows if she found a mistake. She also told us how to wind a pretty yarn ball and how to repair dropped stitches. I did a lot of knitting the next few years, making sweaters for people, a striped orange-and-blue scarf for my sister-in-law who lived in South Alabama where the temperature hardly ever dropped below 40, golf-club covers (probably with pom-poms) for guys who probably took them off in the car and hid them, wool hunting socks, which were a big hit.

Disclaimer: The people in the picture to right I do not know. They're not friends of mine but from an old knitting pattern. Now----
I'm sure there were many more things that I foisted off on people during those years of frantic knitting, but one outstanding project I tackled was a fisherman knit sweater. We had a friend Grady who requested one, but he would never stand for knitting worsted; it had to be Rygja yarn that he ordered from Norway that was water-repellant in case he wanted to wear it to bring in the nets. I'm looking at the pattern, and it's too faded to scan well, but there are 3 pages of directions. Every square inch of that sweater had something on it, cables and popcorns, seed stitches, more cables. The picture above is very similar. I'm not sure how long it took me to make it, but I would take it to work with me at the prison (I don't think we actually worked much there) and pull it out of my filing cabinet and work on it. I think I also taught my friend Peggy to knit. I'll have to find out more details of that project, if she remembers. I don't recall if he ever wore it or not (I'm pretty sure he did at least once), but we were both pretty proud of it.

Knitting was one of those things that I did for a few years, and then something came along to replace it (possibly 3 babies), but I have picked it up over the years and even taught a few people to do it. The only thing I've done recently is knitted dishrags. This is my doctor's office pasttime when I'm waiting for Mama, and I got quite a few done this fall. I think I have a few things packed away. I have a doctor's appointment this morning but will get a few more pictures this afternoon if I can find anything.


  1. Is that just a sample picture of the sweaters? I can't say I know those people. Anyway, here's my question. Why does everything you sew and knit have to be so tiny? I know there's many answers to that question, some that are obvious. But didn't I used to play with some of your HUGE and as I remember, very colorful knitting needles when I was little? Love you much, Lise

  2. Ok, Lise, I edited it. I'm sure no one we ever knew would wear those hats, what do you think? Probably all needle looked big to you once, but I did (do) have some of the long ones that you might remember but never used those giant things that I see in stores.