Legacy

I mentioned earlier that I come from a long line of crafters.  My mother and both her sisters in particular crocheted and knit when I was growing up.  (Some sewing happened too, as I recall.)  My maternal grandmother also knit and crocheted.  I treasure the baby blanket she made for my older daughter….she was in her 80s.  Unfortunately, besides the love of crafting and the ability, I seem to have inherited the family joints, but oh, well.  We can’t pick and choose!

My older daughter, the RockStar, knits when she feels like it (think big needles, fast projects, funky yarn).  My younger daughter, the Gothlet, has inherited not only the genetic craftiness (as applied to not only knitting and crocheting but ANYthing crafty; when she was about 5, she made laptop computers for everyone in the family out of paper, tape and yarn) but has also inherited what one might call ‘practical engineering’ genes (analytical, interested in figuring out what makes things work and not work) from grandfathers and great-grandfathers, a gene my brother got in spades. And I should mention that the girls come by it honestly from both sides; my husband’s mother crocheted them absolutely beautiful bedspreads before her death.

Anyway, a very tangible reminder of this crafting legacy came along when my maternal aunt visited a couple months ago.

Another of my aunts passed away earlier this year after being in poor health for a very long time.  Among other issues, she had diabetes, which for years and years she had ignored, with unfortunate but predictable consequences, including loss of vision.  Sadly, a couple of her joys, reading and the computer, were slowly stolen away by the diabetic vision loss.  But one pastime left to her for a long time, even when her vision was almost gone, was crocheting; and knitting when she had a little more vision.

My semi-namesake aunt brought down a sample of a number of knitted squares she had just found, that her sister, my Aunt Barb, had knit sometime in the past — who knows when?

Look at this:

Look at them together:

There are SIXTY of these squares! Each is roughly 11 inches square. The gauge varies a bit (though because much of it is garter stitch based, I think it’s not critical as they’ll stretch to fit and the number of rows is the same on each).  Some were dirty and a little whiffy.  Some looked like different colors of yarn.  The ‘poofs’ are not as poofy as they look in the picture, as I stuffed them to make them show; but I’m afraid the yarn is acrylic, and the poofy bits would probably take blocking to show to their best advantage.  So they will be floopy poofs.

After consultation (I thought washing and drying, then joining with mattress stitch in a coordinating cream acrylic, should make a twin-bed-size afghan roughly, 66 x 110 inches), my aunt washed the pieces and they cleaned up beautifully.  Except one.  She thinks my Aunt Barb’s eyesight was already going, because 59 pieces are cream-colored, and one is grey….

Dang.

Well, I guess they could make an afghan that’s 7 squares by 8 squares (77 x 88 inches), with a few squares left over.  A throw pillow with two squares?  And then the grey one is still the odd one out.  (As you might guess, the pattern has vanished into the mists of time.  My aunt doesn’t remember even having seen these before.)

Still, it’s pretty amazing to see these appear after so long.  These have to be pretty old, because Barb hadn’t knit for a long time.

Quite a legacy.

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Of course, the real legacy is the crafty love passed down through generations, isn’t it?  I am thankful for the generations I know and knew, and those I didn’t, who said “I love  you” with the work of their hands every day.  Just as much as the Gothlet did when she made me a paper laptop computer!

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And, today being Veteran’s Day, I am also thankful for the legacy of those who served; those I know and knew, and those millions I never will.  Years, tears, health, and life, all spent in the service of our country.  A legacy indeed.

Thank you.

23 responses to “Legacy

  1. What a beautiful memory you have of your aunt now – great post!

  2. Dude – throw the grey one in on a corner or something. It’s a design element, and a good story to boot.

  3. I say let they grey one live with the rest. It’s a great conversation starter of a great story🙂

  4. That raised leaf pattern is an all american favorite.

    you can find a copy of the pattern in the Woman’s Day book of Needle work (edit by Rose Wilder Lane,–so famous in her time as an editor, she convinced a publisher to look at her mother’s stories of her childhood (mother’s childhood) and we got “the Little house on the Prairee(Laura Ingals Wilder is today more famous than her daughter.. but never would have gotten published with out her!)

    Ok back to the squares. Anne McDonald (in her book No Idle Hands) references the pattern, too, but didn’t including it.. be cause it was “so well known”

    I have the WD book of needle work, and if you want a version (unfortunately, like any traditional pattern there are many versions!) i can send you one.

    I don’t think its the exact same.. but…

    I’ve made several versions.. the last for my granddaughter..
    (see it here
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/oftroy/afghans%20and%20blankets/baby1.jpg )

    (at this point my fingers know the pattern so well, that the last time i knit it, i knit the 4 squared together, (flat, not in round) and had only 1 seam to sew per block..

    (cast on 3,
    R1: K fb, YO, k1, YO, Kfb (7 stitches)
    R2: K1 P5, K1
    R3: Kfb, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, Kfb (11 stitches)
    R4: K2, P7, K2

    (by now, the raised leaf should be becoming evident–(knits) on a garter background…

    when the leaf has 11, (or 13, or 15 !) you decrease in the leaf.. and keep Kfb on the edges

    the fill (garter, beading, stocking knit and reversed stocking knit or even a section with more raised leaves..) are all variables..

    (Looking again, your leaf has a flat center (and has moved the YO to outer edge–but again.. just an other version of a raised leaf motif..

    (PS–we met momentarly at Rhinebeck–with the Tsock Tsarina in background)

    • Hi, I have a ‘blanket/coverlet made w/what appears to me to be this exact pattern by my Grandmother’s sister & given to me on my wedding in September 1981. My dog chewed a hole in thankfully, only one square years ago. I have done quite a bit of knitting, so I kept the coverlet in hopes of eventually fixing it. I just completed a long project and am not ready to take on the task of fixing it. I noticed in one of your paragraphs you offer to send a copy along to the writer of this article. I would really love a copy as well so I can correctly fix this heirloom & would be very happy to send you a fee for the pattern if you are willing to pass it along. I would love to fix the blanket. Thank you very much. Laura

      • Hi again, I forgot to mention that before writing above, I did attempt to buy a copy of the Woman’s Day book of Needle work, but there were a few w/similar names & none found w/the exact name. I really don’t mind buying it if I can find it somewhere. Thanks again! Laura

  5. Absolutely keep the gray one in there. Kind of like this scarf:
    http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter05/PATTdanica.html

  6. That’s really nice. I think you should keep the gray square. It’s a feature!

  7. I agree – keep the grey square in the mix and show it proudly. Put it right in the middle. It’s the punch line to the story.

    Also – practical engineering genes. Hmmmm – rings a bell.

  8. Is it silly of me to say,” just go ahead and use the grey square”? I am a big one for leaving mistakes in (when they don’t threaten structural integrity), as they’re the real signature of the maker and a reminder that the product is a work of human hands.

  9. Hey Cathy!

    Counter panes are gorgeous- and what a lovely legacy. I’ve seen this exact pattern in print twice. One is free online, and the other is in “knitted counterpanes” by Mary Walker Phillips. (Out of print, unfortunately – but I can pick up a copy for you at the MN textile center!)

    One of the two will probably be an exact match.

  10. What great fun! I think you should put the single gray square in it someplace… adds to the story.

  11. Oh my! Must complete! It appears that many before me have provided you with the pattern to replace that gray square, but I say let it hang out with it’s friends.

  12. I too think you keep the gray block in. It is part of the story. I have a quilt that was done many years ago, I found it in an antique mall. The quilt is covered in beautiful tight small stiches, simple pattern, just 2 colors, and when you get to the binding, she ran out of the fabric used. So about 2/3 of the binding is in one color, and the rest in a totally different color. I bought the quilt BECAUSE of the different binding. I’ve been there, I know what it feels like, and I love the humaness of my quilt. Keep the gray block in….

  13. Wow, can you believe people KNOW this pattern so well they can direct you right to it and/or give you directions right here in the comments??? Before I read those, I was going to say this:

    Of course, you know that the Mason-Dixon girls would PUT that gray one right in, and it somehow would WORK PERFECTLY. But now there is maybe no need…. although some others I see agree with that idea, too! XO

  14. Those will make a beautiful afghan, or bed cover. You are so lucky to have them.

  15. Ok – had an MKG board meeting tonight, so tried to look up the pattern.

    Argh. It’s a mix between “larnach castle” (pg. 66-69) and teh “bassett fancy” pg. 82-84, with a little flourish of Brooklyn Museum – pg. 96.

    ahh, so no perfect fit. [but you could figure it out]
    🙂

  16. I would totally put the grey square in one of the corners – a testimony that we are all human.
    such a beautiful quilt it will make (acrylic or not)

  17. I decided to chime in to say that the grey square is part of the legacy, and thus should be included. There are a number of different raised leaf counterpane patterns available on the web with variations in the number of leaves, the number and style of the patterns between the center four leaves and the outer leaves. I’ve been working on a reproduction coverlet on and on for years and did quite a bit of research trying to find patterns. At the end of the day, once I understood the principle, I could create the pattern I needed to replicate. Interestingly, on closer examination, I realized the coverlet I was copying had several different variations of the pattern (5 leaves vs. 6 leaves, garter stitch field vs. reverse stockinette, in various combinations). As I am doing it in the original size (teeny tiny crochet cotton and 00 needles), it is a lifetime project and must have taken the original knitter(s) years to finish also.

  18. May I please add my voice to all those who hope that you’ll include the odd one out grey square? It would make the afghan even better than perfect. It’s something so genuine and authentic, you can’t get that with perfect cream squares.
    I would even add the grey square in a different colour mattress stitch: to show without doubt that this one square is acknowleged to be different (Bright red or a warm rust!).
    You could even do something else: on the reverse of the afghan, would you add your aunt’s name and her dates to the grey square? It would make the piece a true heirloom. You could add your own name and the date of completion somewhere else (like people do on quilts) – that way the blanket tells a story for generations to come.
    Please do!

  19. I am really hoping someone sees this post. I was given one of these squares completed, and one partial. I am looking for the EXACT pattern of the above photos so that i can finish the partial square. This is for a charity project and I do not want a ‘sorta close’ match, i need an EXACT match. THanks!

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