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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Learning Experiences

By Johna Ferguson

I wonder who taught you to knit; maybe your grandmother, your mom or maybe a school friend. I know I learned during World War II.

When I was 12 years old our Girl Scout troop was asked to knit nine-inch squares that would eventually be crocheted together to make blankets for servicemen hospitalized during the War. Our leader showed us how to knit, just knit row after row on two needles.

We had no choice of beautiful colors; all were the same, dull, boring khaki. But being dedicated Scouts, we set to work on the project and knit for half-a-year. That was the start of my knitting career.

Having learned to sew on my mother’s old treadle at our beach when I was six, I felt very creative and started knitting for my Sonja Henie doll. I had many throw-a-ways but eventually I got it all figured out and she was probably the best-dressed doll in the neighborhood.

From there, when I was in high school, I knit my father a necktie and eventually a pair of argyle socks, a most difficult project. Then I decided to impress my boyfriend and knit him a white cable knit sleeveless sweater.

It took me almost a year to finish but I was so proud when he wore it to school one day.

And then off to the university. Classes were so easy and it seemed like I had way too much time on my hands so I knit a friend a ski sweater with a skier on the front and snow flakes everywhere. She bought the yarn and even paid me to knit it.

I decided that was a good way to pick-up extra money, always needed as I was putting myself through college. It was also work I could take along on my part-time jobs and knit when I had free time.

Now I knit baby things for the hospitals in Seattle to give to needy new parents. I buy the yarn, but I have found second hand stores have lots of it at really cheap prices and in a wonderful variety of colors and weights.

I started out knitting baby hats as it didn’t take long to finish one so I could fit them into my schedule. There is a group of 10 women knitters where they live in the nearby retirement home, all in their 80s, 90s and even one 100 years old.

They meet for an hour once a week to knit plus we all knit in our free time if possible. A woman comes once a month to pick-up our work and to deliver it to the hospitals. I try to have at least four hats done and a small blanket or two.

I have found this work not only relaxing but also it partially satisfies my need to give something back to society. I feel I’ve been so lucky that I should try to pass something on to others.

I’m always curious about everything so how did you learn, if not to knit, then how to fish, cook or maybe play some sport?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Hi Johna,

I never learned to knit even though my Mother was a great knitter and crocheter.

My Dad gave me a Brownie camera when I was about 10 years old and taking pictures of my friends and family became my lifelong hobby.

Today,whenever someone needs a picture of Great Aunt Aggie or cousin Kate they know exactly who to go to get a copy of it.

I had all of my family pictures put on a tape for VCR use and that tape runs for more than two hours and contains almost 600 pictures.

Last year I had those photos transferred to DVD form.

I now wish I had learned to knit but you can only really have one important hobby so when I started photographing people, I was hooked on pictures and knitting was forgotten.

Johna, I used to knit, but I don't remember how I learned. It was either from a class or one of those Teach Yourself to [fill in the blank] books.

I really enjoyed it and made some cool sweaters for my daughter when she was little.I made one for myself which I've never worn but don't have the heart to throw away or donate.

I learned how to sew on my mother's old treadle sewing machine which she'd had upgraded with an electric foot pedal. I made many skirts, blouses, and the like on that machine. I seldom sew these days except to mend something.

Hi Johna, my husband taught me how to knit. He was born on a Norwegian farm above the arctic circle and that was on of the ways his family passed the time and made things they needed during the winter. I knit many things for my babies, and then when they were toddlers but after that I quit. I have just picked the needles up again after 70.

Hi Johna, my mother cold only crochet and at the time I thought that was so uncool. I think I probably learnt to knit at school because I remember knitting a scarf in football colours there. Now I prefer to crochet and learnt that from a magazine, my latest effort was a possum cammoflage for a Geocache something I could never have managed to knit.Enjoyed your article.

I tried to knit a scarf from my father once. I didn't know at the time that you were supposed to count the stitches on each row. After about two feet, it started to look pretty crooked! I took it apart and that was the last time I touched a knitting needle. Instead, my love is writing. Much better than crooked scarfs. Thanks for making me smile today.

Johna, my friend at work taught me to make basic socks, during our breaks. Then she moved away. So I make socks and dishcloths!
All my other hobbies, (painting and quilting) I paid for lessons and it was worth every penny!
I love writing and just do what comes naturally, no "schooling".

We have a group of church ladies who meet once a week to knit, crochet, embroider, hook, make cards. We call ourselves the Handicraft Group. Some of us knit sweaters for needy children and others have projects for their families. The most important part of our group is the sitting together and sharing the stories of our week.

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