Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dutch Samplers and Memories

We are almost at the end of the Dutch Sampler Knit-Along from It's been fun just knitting without any specific project in mind and reminds me of the first samples of my own knitting way back when I was just five years old. Of course, the original sampler was knit as a learning tool by a young girl, probably under the guidance of her mother or grandmother.
Ah, my own journey in knitting started right after WWII. I can still see myself sitting on a stool in the beauty shop waiting on my mother to get a permanent, toiling away on my garter stitch, holes and all. Mother's hair in curlers wired to the "permanent-giving-machine" which in turn was plugged into an electrical outlet. (I found the above picture of the machine. The machine was invented in Germany by one Karl Nessler.)My mother (Mutti) was generous in many ways, and I am sure she unraveled another piece of knitting or bartered for the yarn, in order to give me enough yarn to knit the potholder. For those were hard times and yarn, or anything else for that matter, was not wasted. No going to the local LYS and picking up a ball of Peaches and Cream. Even if the money was available, there was no local LYS and there was no cotton yarn available in 1945 unless you had it from before the war or were able to obtain it on the black market. While I do not remember, I am sure the pot holder was unraveled and knit into something else. Come to think of it, the same color showed up in some undershirts later on.
By the time I made it to first grade, I was an "expert" knitter, at least as far as first graders were concerned. My first grade class started to learn how to knit while I was sick with the German measles. When I returned to school, I sat down at my desk and knit myself a potholder to the amazement and copious praise of my teacher. Nary a mistake in it.
As a 10 year old, now going to the German secondary school system, I had to knit a pair of mittens. When I had finished the thumb gusset, I went to the teacher to proudly show her my knitting. I remember Mrs. K (in opposition to my first grade teacher) looking at me, saying "Why didn't you come to me earlier?" to which I replied impertinently, "Why should I? I know how to knit mittens." Of course, I did not endear myself to her with that comment. Funny, I can't remember her name, other than it started with "K" and that she always walked to school with Mr. Honig (Honey). This was an all girls school full of bright, precocious and, therefore, bratty kids who were convinced that Mrs. K and Mr. H had something going on.
My next adventure in the fiber arts was learning to crochet. Our first project was a lace insert for a pillow. Not exactly a beginner's project, but that was the assignment. I never did learn to hold the crochet hook correctly and my lace insert was appropriately dirty from the sweat of my grubby little hands. My mother must not have liked crocheting either, as she got her girlfriend to help me finish the lace. It was a good thing that the lace was washed and blocked before it was presented in class, because one could clearly differentiate between the portion of the lace my grubby hands had touched and the portion my mother's girlfriend helped with.
The next step in my education in the fiber arts was making a tablecloth with Hardanger cut work. We were still too poor to afford the material, so a neighbor bought the materials in exchange for the table cloth. She got a good deal and I got my grade.
I never learned to sew, although I had two cousins who were professional seamstresses. Sewing machines were unavailable in school. Once I was married and had children, I taught myself how to sew, out of necessity.
Despite the hard times, the hunger and deprivations, they were also good times.

Happy reminiscing. Renate

No comments:

Post a Comment