“Is that for me?”

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‘A post about knitting, of all things’

What with Holiday Nonsense and all, my stats’ll probably be in the basement this week anyway, so what the heck — I’ll write about knitting.

Yes, knitting.

Knitting is actually a rather comfy cozy thing to do, especially when it’s cold out and you’re sitting in front of a roaring fire.

Somebody enjoying a roaring fire while not knitting

But I’ve also done my share of knitting elsewhere. I used to do a lot of it on TV commercial shoots. See, on shoots they have this thing called “craft services”, which is basically a big ole table loaded with every kind of tempting snack and/or treat you can think of: chips, cheeses, little pastries and sandwiches, candies of all types, including bowls and bowls of M&Ms. Our producer on a Hershey shoot once got in hot water by stocking M&Ms instead of Reese’s Pieces, which was the client’s product. She had to explain that the client on that particular Hershey shoot had requested the M&Ms.

Here I am, knitting on the beach, for heaven’s sakes

You can read about some pretty funny TV shoot adventures by clicking on Adland Lore in the sidebar. I highly recommend “The Most Fun You Can Have With Your Clothes On”.  And no, I’m not the only one on shoots who does some knitting to keep her paws away from that craft services table. I know of several movie stars who do that, too.

Knitting mittens on Amtrak. A woman passing in the aisle stopped and tried one on. Read more about this in “The A-Hole Car”

So how did I get into knitting, you might be asking. (Or not.) Well, it wasn’t my Mom, even though you can see us both companionably wielding our needles in the photo at the top of this post.

Mom taught me many wonderful things, but she wasn’t the one who taught me how to knit. (I’m thinking that having your mom teach you to knit would be sort of like having your husband teach you how to drive a stick.) My dear Aunt Shirley — the one who used to hold me on her lap and lovingly brush my hair while wishing out loud that she had a daughter — was the one who taught me.

That’s my Knitting Teacher, Aunt Shirley, the woman on the right next to Aunt M, holding one of the two terrific sons she had before finally having a daughter

I don’t have a photo of it, but I remember that the first sweater I knit was purple and it was for — ahem — myself. I stored it in non-sweater season in a dresser drawer — the same dresser drawer where I had hidden a huge lollipop my Dad (I think) had bought for me at the County Fair. No, my brothers did not find it, but a family of mice sure did. They made a comfy rodent condo out of my sweater and lived off that lollipop for months.

Not the mouse fodder sweater, but one I knit for The Child featuring non-lollipop-eating reindeer

Oh, once in a while I knit something for myself, but most of the sweaters I’ve produced over the years have been for babies. In fact, I wish I had a nickel for every baby sweater I’ve whipped up. Many, of course, were for my own personal baby.

But I loved knitting baby sweaters so much that I’d knit one for pretty much any random baby with whose parents I had some sort of fond relationship.

I knit little bitty garments for siblings’ babies, cousins’ babies, and friends’ babies, but also co-workers’ babies and even The Child’s teachers’ babies.

I once knit two sweaters for our contractor. He had twins

But then there was, forgive the pun (or not) a Baby Gap. That first batch of infants grew too big — and too picky — for me to knit for them. Trust me, it’s heartbreaking to spend all that time — even if it’s not that much time for a teensy sweater — and find out the recipient won’t wear it.

The Child had a choice about the piano. But not about wearing that sweater

So I hung up my needles and turned to needlepoint. (Which is waaaay more boring to write about than knitting, so I will spare you.) And then, right about the time my couches and chairs just couldn’t hold another needlepointed anything, there was a new baby boom.

Yup. That first batch of babies started having babies. And I dusted off my needles and started up with the knitting again.

So, while I don’t have any grandchildren myself, I’ve whipped up sweaters for Other People’s Grandchildren — the babies of those babies. And, if I ever have one of my own, my own Personal GrandKid will get all The Child’s sweaters as a Starter Kit (yes, I’ve carefully preserved each and every one).

Some Truly Remarkable and Thoughtful Parents even send a video:

Okay, about now you may be wondering (or not) why I haven’t mentioned knitting sweaters for The Dude. Well. The Dude used to be my prime sweater-getter. I started with an argyle vest when we were dating and worked my way through vee-neck pullovers (one of which, if I recall correctly, is what I was knitting in that photo taken on the beach) all the way up to shawl-collared mohair delights with set-in pockets, no less. My favorite of these was a camel-colored Ward Cleaver style number enhanced with little camel-emblazoned leather buttons.

In fact, I knit The Dude so many sweaters that, to this day, whenever he sees me knitting anything he will ask “Is that for me?

Yup. He even asked if this little confection was “for me”. Sad note here: the recipient of this confection never wrote to thank me. (Consider yourself outed if you read my blog and see this. Though if you read my blog, I just might forgive you)

So why don’t I knit sweaters for His Dudeness anymore? Well, for the simple fact that he never ever wears them. And why, if they are indeed so handsome and delightful, does he not wear them?

Because, bless his practical heart, he discovered Polar fleece.

New York City. December 2018

19 thoughts on ““Is that for me?”

  1. Kary Peterson

    Alice,

    Thanks for remembering my mother and finding those great photos! My hair has returned to that blond color( we dare say?).

    Your cousin Kary

    • Hey Kary! So good to hear from you. Your mother was always so sweet and kind to me. What an incredibly lovely woman! I still can’t believe she took the time (and had the patience) to teach a little kid to knit. I really miss her. And yes, you always have had great hair!

  2. Babies are the BEST at appreciating handmade gifts. And Alice, these sweaters are beautiful. So intricate. I used to knit with needles but gave it up for the Knifty Knitter craze of spool knitting. Scarves and hats for me now. Just ask my family…

    • Thank you ever so, dear Snuffy! I do enjoy a good project. Keeps me from using my hands for snacking (!) Now I am curious; I know nothing about “spool knitting”. I will have to look it up. Or, if I’d like to keep on with knitting sweaters — maybe not!

      • Your sweaters are much craftier. I think you can make things like sweaters with the spool knitting but I never got that fancy. But, it would be a great way to pass the skills on to young ones. The best part about it is you don’t have to worry about dropping a stitch if you have to put it down. Stitches never fall off the needles, something I always hated!

  3. Deborah

    There are two things I have always wanted to be able to do well, dance and knit (not simultaneously, of course). Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to knit, dancing I’ll never master.

    • Ah! You are totally my kind of girl! Knitting and dancing are indeed truly related, what with the hand/eye coordination and all. Here’s hoping you master knit one, shuffle two completely, and to your own satisfaction xoxo

  4. Unbound Roots

    Oh my goodness, Alice! Your knitting is beautiful! I have to tell you that when my children were born, as sweet family friend from the UK sent boxes of knitted garments for my children when they were born. I still have every single piece that she made, and they are now tucked away safely in the “Memories” box for when my children have children.

    What a gift you are giving all of your recipients!

    I’ve never knitted, but I’m about to learn. My 8-yr old daughter has been begging for knitting supplies, and she will be getting them for Christmas. She has dreams of making chicken sweaters and dog boots, as she feels bad for our animals in the winter. 🙂

    Such a sweet post, and I’m happy to learn of yet another one of your talents! xoxo

    • Thank you so much for this kind and heartfelt comment! I love that you saved your friend’s knitted gifts for your children’s children. Here’s hoping that you and your daughter both enjoy learning. I always say knitting is as much about the Process as it is about the Product — it’s so satisfyingly tactile that it rewards the knitter as well as the “knittee”. Oh, and speaking of knitting for animals, I have a friend who knits sweaters for penguins (!) Apparently, they can get cold. This is a Real Thing — I promise I’m not making it up! Merry Christmas and Happy Knitting. xoxoxo

  5. Ruth Meisenheimer

    Ellen Boyd once told me she taught over a thousand girls to knit in 4-H. I know Karen was one and she knitted a yellow halter top with a watermelon on the front. Doesn’t seem appropriate for summer, but she wore it. After all, it was on the cover of “Seventeen”! Your sweaters are wonderful, Alice.

    • Thank you, Ruth. I don’t know how it would be humanly possible, Mrs. Boyd or not (!), to teach more than one person to knit, much less more than one thousand. She must have been super-human. Though teaching your sweet Karen would have been a pleasure! (Wish I could have seen that sweater — it sounds dreamy!)

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