This blog's mission is simple--to encourage moms who are married to non-Catholics and raising their children in the Faith. If you know a mom who needs a little encouragement in continuing her efforts, I would be delighted if you would share Kathleen's Catholic with her. Thank you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

About Rose and Yarn

There was something special about Grandmom  Rose and her knitting needles.

I was sitting in the breezeway, pushing the glider back and forth. I was just eight years old, full of energy, and bored.


"Yeah, Grandma."

"I have something for you." Grandmom was making her way out her kitchen door, with a few items in her hands. With a line or two of introduction of materials, and a little lesson on patience, Grandmom began my first crochet lesson--the chain stitch. She then taught me to count, count, count my stitches, to hold the needle correctly, to keep my "hand" even...and how to read a pattern, which isn't always easy. And so it began. I was "hooked," so to speak.

The proprietor of Charles' Yarn Shop in South side of Allentown, Rose Charles taught literally hundreds of women to crochet and knit. She was also an accomplished seamstress--truly the daughter of a tailor and seamstress making their living in Brooklyn.

Today, knitting and crocheting takes me right back to those days of perusing her display of pattern books and leaflets, of examining her selection of needles--some almost as thick as my arm, and some so tiny their hooks seemed microscopic--and ah-ing over the crocheted jewelry in the glass case. I think of Grandmom whenever I work on a project, and I remember how most of our conversations took place over the clickety-clack of her needles.

My mother is also an accomplished knitter and crocheter, and so I feel I belong to something like a very special sorority whenever I pick up a pair of needles--or even when I just daydream about doing the gorgeous projects I see in knitting and crochet books. I am transported right back to the hospitable surroundings of Grandmom's yarn shop.

When our boys were little, I had a hard time working on needle projects, but now that they are teenagers, it's time for me to return to the enjoyment! I think lots of needlework will be in my future.

Here are a few pillows I just finished knitting. The herringbone (right) and the honeycomb (left) patterns can be found at Lion Brand Yarn. Click here for the free herringbone pattern. While I was downloading the pattern, I also visited Lion's stitch encyclopedia and found the honeycomb cable pattern, which is just a swatch. For the honeycomb pillow, I simply used the same number of stitches the herringbone called for, then made the pillow front from there; I then used the same back from the herringbone pattern.

Here's a sweater that I started to crochet (get this) twenty years ago! Before I even met my husband of 17 years, I managed to finish the front and back, which are both festooned with cables. Although I lost the pattern, I still had the wool, even after moving from three houses. This summer, I thought it was time to get it done, so I improvised the sleeves, cuffs, and waistband. It needs a little blocking to help straighten the stitches, and then it's ready to wear--after all those years! And, yes, it still fits. By the way, Lion Brand also has tons of crochet patterns and a crochet stitch encyclopedia. You can also learn various techniques (for beginners on up) at their website.

God bless!


  1. Kathleen, I remember your grandma's shop. I used to be in awe by the amount of yarn there. I wish I knew how to crochet when I knew her. I think she would be amazed at all the projects I've done over the years, esp at volleyball tournaments and swim meets! By the way, i still have the pink dress your mom knitted for Kristin when she was a baby!!!
    Your pillows and sweater look great! I'll have to check out some of the online patterns.

  2. Hi, Kathleen. This is Jess from Lion Brand. I just wanted to let you know how great your projects look. I love how cozy your pillows look (especially with the spinning wheel in the background)! Congratulations on finishing your sweater, and have a great day.

    With warm regards,
    Jess H.
    Lion Brand Yarn

  3. @Justine: Grandmom would have been thrilled to know that you learned crochet, her all-time favorite past time. Even during the few days before she passed away (at nearly 97 years old), she insisted that she needed to hold her crochet needle. The craft was a HUGE part of her daily life.

    @Jess: Thank you so much for visiting Kathleen's Catholic and taking the time to leave a comment. I'm thrilled by your compliments. Now about that spinning wheel...I have thought about learning to spin. There's an alpaca farm just a few miles from our home. I'm sure roving would be very much affordable. Hmmm. Maybe I'll try knitting with Lion's alpaca blend to see if I like the "hand," then go from there. :-)


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