Monday, May 28, 2007

Knitting Heritage

This weekend, I got to delve into the needle arts in my family. My mother never knit much. She and my aunts and grandmother were quilters. My grandmother, Granny, did a lot of needlepoint. But as far as I knew, knitting wasn't big in the family. We lived in Texas, after all. But in a phone conversation a while back, my Aunt June told me she had some things to show me the next time I came to visit. During the break between semesters, Jeff and I headed down to spend some time with her and her grandkids. She fixed us a wonderful lunch, complete with the family favorite, fig preserves. And, she brought out some treasure to share with me.

At the right is a picture of my great-grandmother, Grace Mae Adams Adkins, known to her grandchildren as MaMa (pronounced maw-maw). She was my mother's father's mother. Born in southern Iowa in 1889 and growing up mostly in central Nebraska, her family moved to the Texas coastal prairie in the spring of 1900. A few years later she met my great-grandfather, another mid-west transplant, and they married in 1907, about the time this picture was taken. She was 18.

Although she knew how to knit, she was more of a crocheter. She and her sister Gladys crocheted a lot. Although MaMa died some months before I was born, I have memories of Aunt Gladys in a nursing home. She and her roommate had covered nearly every surface in their room with crocheted cozies of all kinds. I don't remember her not crocheting.

When my aunt and mother were little girls, MaMa knitted them some sweaters. Aunt June still has hers. It's in a mustard-y yellow color and was probably knit sometime in either 1942 or 1943. It's cabled and has a little button at the side of the collar. It looks to me like the gauge of the body of the sweater and the arms is very different. The arms seemed abnormally long. Aunt June's theory is that they got stretched during cleaning. The sleeves are kind of cool. We tried the sweater on Aunt June's granddaughter, Sarah, and she looked like a little red-headed Joan Crawford -- very puffy shoulders! Aunt June remembers MaMa telling her that she couldn't remember how to do cables when she knit this sweater, so she had to go down the road to consult with a neighbor.

Aunt June gave me a bunch of old needles and crochet hooks that used to belong to MaMa and Aunt Gladys. They're kind of a mish-mash of sizes and conditions. I really like the large wooden knitting needle, although there is only one. One of the wooden crochet hooks looks quite old and has a whittled-looking end. The small white one looks like it might be made from ivory. You can also see a set of Boye aluminum knitting needles that got crunched at some point! I'm going to put these together in some sort of shadow box. Aunt June also gave me a set of interchangeable circular needles that she had back in the early 1970s. It's not complete, but each size is a different color of anodized aluminum. Really cool.

What a treasure. Thanks, Aunt June!


  1. that's so great. what funs stories and memorabilia.

  2. What a wonderful post! Two of your favorite things rolled into one (knitting and genealogy).