My grandmother was a knitter. Every summer we would visit on the Cape, Granny would call us down to her little house near ours and we would be measured: chest, arms, length of the sweater. How low did we want it? And of course, mittens. We would place one hand on a piece of paper and she would draw around our it. Then we would open up our fingers and she would draw the size for a glove. It tickled. I never remember getting gloves from her,  but we always started the winter with new mittens. Sweaters would arrive regularly as well, sometimes an old sweater with a new cuff or bottom added to it.
We were never that happy with an old sweater with different cuffs, but we wore them. You could say I was a depression baby and we didn’t complain about hand-me-downs.
When I was a teenager, I won a gift certificate to a local shop. I wanted to BUY a sweater. Momie took me to the store and waited patiently while I looked through the sweater supply. The clerk finally asked her why I was being so fussy. “Oh, she has never had a store-bought sweater. They have always been hand knit.” I am sure the clerk wondered why I was there in the first place. I guess, being a teenager, I wanted what my classmates wore. That was the era when we wore cardigans backwards and, in fact, in my senior picture, you can see where the label was sewn in.

I am now a grandma, and of course, have measured my grandchildren in the same way. When I started making mittens for the preschool I found the drawn hands of my grandchildren , labeled at ages 3, 4 and 6 who are now into their twenties. I have measured the two younger ones. They know when the tape measure comes out, that eventually they will get a sweater. I do ask for color suggestions. Style is my choice. I do not ask for the small sweaters back to add cuffs and lengthening. When my own children were small and the last one had outgrown the supply, I passed the sweaters along to a neighbor who had three children ages starting where mine left off. I saw those sweaters at the school where I was an aide, being worn and worn. They never seemed to wear out!
I still knit but am finding sweaters made of wool itch. I think the colder air back east was better for wool wear. I have a closet full of hand knit wool sweaters I just can’t part with…. yet. My oldest granddaughter took three I was willing to part with. I think she found a home for two of them, but she has worn the other. When I gave them to her she said “Oh, a grandma knit sweater. I haven’t had one of those in a long time” It feels good to pass them along now and then.
Our local yarn shop has a summer deal when you can sell your unused yarn and get store credit. I have a TON of unused yarn and for three years now I have taken yarn there and my daughter gets the store credit. I certainly don’t need any more yarn. Our lunch trip today was to the yarn store when I tried hard not to invest in yarn, while she bought some with her credit to make a sweater. That’s almost as much fun as getting the yarn for myself.
I will resume knitting mittens, and socks for next winter and, maybe, work on a sweater I started a year ago for the California kid.
It is interesting how these genes go down through the generations. Wonder who will be the next knitter in the family.           (more slice of life stories at Two Writing Teachers link)

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9 Responses to knitting

  1. jee young says:

    My grandma still knits things for me and I love it. She actually 99 years old! I tried learning to knit from her, but gave up after a few attempts. I’m sure your grandchildren love getting things that you knit for them!

  2. blkdrama says:

    I love the photos following your story. My mom used to knit. I tried a scraf once, disaster.
    Glad you are keeping up your tradition,

  3. Tara says:

    There’s nothing like a Grandma-knit sweater. I have one left which I rarely wear but love to look at from time to time.

  4. Amanda says:

    I have to say discovering the hand tracings of your grandchildren was my favorite part! I’m an aspiring knitter myself, though I’ve never attempted a sweater…perhaps someday!

  5. Katie says:

    I wonder what she did with all of the hand drawings? Did she keep them year after year to compare? Your sweaters sound wonderful, packed full of warmth, love, and memories.

    • Fran says:

      I am certain all the tracings were saved. She used the back sides of used envelopes as scrap paper. I think there was a life time supply of rubber bands in her house. Granny saved everything. Going through it all was too time consuming to appreciate the little things like hand tracings.

  6. Katy says:

    I love that my Grandmother taught me to knit, wish I had learned other things from her before she passed away…your children & grandchildren are very lucky!

  7. Loved your post. It brought tears to my eyes. Although I’ve never had a grandma-knit sweater and I will probably never knit a sweater for my own grandchildren, family traditions are so important. Our family has its own set of traditions that we will not part with and I hope our own children – 23, 19, and 6 – will continue to observe them with their own children.

  8. Sarah says:

    i have one of your sweaters — off white with a light blue and grey yolk — it’s older than I am, and though I wear it less in california than i did in maine, i adore it 🙂

    speaking of which – your california granddaughter is accepting sweater donations. and cable-knit knee-high socks….

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