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.
"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.