Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mom’s Dress

In 2007 I attended the NETA Spa and entered an item I was extremely proud of. It was not something I had knit but had been made by my mother over 40 years earlier. My goal in showing off this item was to encourage old and new knitter’s to sometime think about the future generations.
At the time this item was completed mom was single with 4 girls under the age of 10. She worked 3rd shift and drove a school bus in the afternoon to support us. In addition to knitting, she also sewed alot of our dresses, both for everyday wear and special occasions. Some of those dresses and hand knits were actually worn by her grandchildren!

Being young I can’t remember the exact year but I had to have been 7 or 8 when she started knitting this dress. It came down just below her knees and the yoke was done in Fair Isle. I have never seen the pattern so I’m not sure if she made any modifications to it.
What I can tell you is that it was knit with 100% wool using a small needle size, probably a 3 or 4. The main color is a light brown with green, pink and white for the contrasting colors in the yoke. The body was knit in the round, the sleeves were knit flat and the back of the Fair Isle is incredible. Oh, and she also knitted a matching tam. They are both a work of art.

I have pictures of her modeling it after it was completed and fuzzy memories of her wearing it a couple of times over the years. She started to gain some weight in the 70’s and put it away as it didn’t fit anymore. This dress is a timeless knit. It’s as stylish now as it was back then. And I am the only one of her children that can wear this – Hee Hee Hee! But I am taller than she is so it hits me above the knee. I guess I’ll just need to be careful about how I move.

When I started my knitting odyssey I realized what she had accomplished with this dress. At a time when good yarn was fading from the public eye and the “womanly arts” were starting to be actively discouraged, she forged ahead. Eventually we grew up and she lost the weight. She brought the dress out again to wear on special occasions and looked stunning! It is knit with 100% wool after all so it might not be worn alot but I will always cherish it not only for it’s beauty but for the memories it captured.

About the time she started knitting on the dress circular needles had just come out. They were made of plastic, in one piece and never straightened out. I know because somehow I ended up with a couple of them and every time I try to knit with them it’s a battle as they retain the curls from being in the package.

Not many years after Mom completed it; she developed Carpal Tunnel and was forced to stop knitting. She eventually had surgery on both wrists and has started knitting again with a lot of encouragement from me. She chooses to make smaller things now like preemie hats. I have taught her how to make socks using 2 circulars and she’s raided my stash a couple of times for yarn and needles.

She did eventually produce the booklet that the dress pattern is in but that part of it is missing! At least the yoke pattern is still in it. I guess someday if I get the motivation, I can knit my own version and possible pass it down to my girls. And who knows? 30 or 40 years from now, there will be another story out there about a knitted dress inherited from an older generation.