Wool Power: Elderly Knitting

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I have been knitting for the past 25 years. The most enjoyable knitting moments within almost a quarter of a century, have been spent over the past two years with a group of about five elders. I look forward to packing away my needles and current project every other Monday night for our Tuesday morning knitting. In hand is usually an interesting knitting magazine or unusual pattern. For the exchange of ideas along with the clicking of our needles is what it is all about.

This Spring I decided to start asking elders about the origins of their most sought after past time. Of course I was under the assumption that they had learned from their grandmothers or mothers, as my six-year-old daughter Emily had learned from me. The stories were varied, the majority learning from a diverse group of wonderful women in their lives. Amongst the many stories and reflections, I thought you’d enjoy the following short but unique indoctrinations and antidotes.

“There isn’t anything that you can’t do, her boss surprisingly proclaimed as she walked out of her office doorway. The knitting facilitator was searching for one more knitter. “But, I don’t know how to knit,” Fran replied. It was war time and the women were knitting blankets strips for the service men. In this particular case they needed one more volunteer, one more strip. “Now you put your name on that list, Fran and I’ll teach you to knit personally”, her boss proclaimed. Fran was knitting shortly afterwards and the final blanket strip was completed. Fran, now living in West Chester, Pennsylvania still pursues the art and pleasure of knitting at the age of 85, always remembering her beginnings.

Helen also 85 years of age recalls how she got started knitting. She was in her 50’s, ” my friend taught me”, she replied. Her first project was a queen size bedspread which took her four years. “I stopped knitting after that”, she said. Helen started knitting again when she came East, twenty years ago. She attributes her current knitting motivator to the following origin. “I walked into this women’s store and there was a hundred dollar knitted scarf”, she stated in disbelief. Knowing that she could knit it just as well and for less, she did, and has been knitting multiple projects ever since.

“What I love most about knitting explains Dottie, 87, is that it takes my mind off of things, and gives me a great deal of satisfaction when I see my finished work”. Knitting for her granddaughter out in California was a delightful venture, as Dottie selected a novelty yarn for yet another fuzzy neck wrap. “The winter last year was cold in California, and folks where Dottie’s granddaughter worked were asking her where she had acquired the cozy neck accessories. Well, after knitting more than several scarves, which sold quite well at her Granddaughter’s office, Dottie decided that her labors of love were no longer to become labors of business. She started knitting a baby sweater about a month later.

It is comforting to know that creativity and knitting are alive and well. There is such a craze presently going on in the knitting world. Everyone seems to be casting their stresses to the wind and experiencing this piece of heaven for themselves. Knitters are being featured in so many magazines. Even celebrities are getting attention for their knits and purls, which Richard Rutt in his book, A History of Hand Knitting, states has historical roots dating back to the Bible. A passing fancy? The latest craze? Let’s hope not. Hopefully, the rhythmic clicking of those needles are transporting the current group of new comers to a place that only a knit one or purl two can satisfy, now and forever.

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