The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, December 30, 2003  

Or, Memories of Knitting

One of The Rittenhouse Review’s most loyal readers, my mother, passed along some memories of knitting from her younger days growing up in New York.


I enjoyed the New York Times article about kids knitting. I saved it for my knitting guild. [Ed.: See “Kids Today . . . Are Knitting,” The Rittenhouse Review, December 26.]

You probably have heard of the Waldorf School, a private school for elementary students, maybe even high school students. It has been in existence for a long time. They still have knitting as a requirement for each student.

I learned to knit in grammar school. They held classes in the afternoons to teach anyone who wanted to learn such handiwork as knitting, sewing, embroidery, and such. I was very young, maybe seven or eight. Everyone thought it was so cute that I wanted to learn to knit but I was dead serious.

I started a sweater but gave up after a while and never finished it. It started out well but somehow got wider and wider. I moved on to knitting sweaters, hats, and blankets for my dolls.

In high school the fad was to knit argyle socks for our boyfriends. These were quite complicated but we were quite good at it. Some of the more daring girls would knit during class holding the knitting behind a book. I am sure the nuns couldn’t have missed this, but they never said anything.

What actually spurred me on to knitting seriously was all the needle-clacking during World War II. It seemed every woman and girl was knitting socks, hats, and gloves for the servicemen.

(All the time, of course, I was growing up in an Italian neighborhood. I admired the talent of the women I knew, many of whom were born in Italy.) [Ed.: My mother is not Italian-American.]

During the war there were no men around, as they all had been drafted. Dad was in public school at that time and all the shop teachers were away, so the boys took home economics. Dad was taught to knit in the class and never forgot how to do it.


She should write more, don’t you think?

[See also, “The Joy of Stitch,” by Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light. And “Yarns,” by Avedon Carol of The Sideshow.]

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