Friday, December 14, 2007


Fourth Grade Girls

I could hardly wait to turn ten. That's when the boys in Primary, and the girls in Primary went their separate ways. The umbrella girl's organization for 10's-12's was Homebuilders. Ten-year- olds were Larks, eleven-year-olds were Bluebirds, and 12-year-olds were Seagulls. We proudly wore our green bandalos (a piece of felt made into a wide necklace) every week, decorated with special pins and jewels we'd earned to signify our accomplishments in homemaking skills.

The activities were outdoor games, performing a service or learning a skill, and they were all fun.

I remember learning to dip candles, and another time we made Christmas candles by rolling sheets of beeswax around a wick. We made baby-sitting kits, learned to bake cookies and make scrambled eggs. Plus we did service projects that involved raking the neighbor's leaves, shoveling their walks, or pulling their weeds. We planted a little flower garden next to our church, and we had a luncheon for our mothers where we learned to properly set a table, which side the glass went on, and to wait for the hostess to take the first bite.

There were a few field trips to nearby cultural meccas. We took the bus and toured the State Capitol building. We walked to the local library which had an art gallery, and we hiked up the canyon to see a waterfall. It was fun, girly and I loved going. The most highly anticipated projects were saved for summer. We were each going to create an artistic masterpiece.

As a Lark I learned to embroider. I stitched a sampler with a motto that said:

Greet the Day with a Song
Work With a Smile (?)
Serve gladly.

Mine was framed proudly and hung in my room for years.

Seagulls, the oldest girls, and the most coordinated, learned to crochet. I wasn't quite there yet.

We were girls of the fifties, with pig tails and bobby sox, learning the arts of a bygone generation.

Bluebirds learned to knit. I was most anxious to acquire this skill. I had visions of Nordic sweaters adorning my body all winter, so I was ready with my needles and yarn. When we started to cast on, I could already see there was a problem. They were all doing it backwards! I was left handed and the teachers were right handed. The other 5 girls caught on easily, but I was twisting yarn into tangles, and holding the threads so tightly the needle could not get under the stitch.

One lady sat me in front of a mirror so I could imitate the backward display it projected. Another tried to knit left-handed herself, but became confused and frustrated. It was decided I could pass this skill off by doing something else. So I learned to tie a quilt instead, and it was an entertaining project. But I still wanted to learn to knit.

One Friday night my brother and sisters and I stayed overnight at Grama Lundgren's house. It was snowing when we woke up, and the linoleum floors were freezing. She made us buttermilk pancakes with fresh buttermilk, slightly burned around the edges, and then Grampa took the other kids out to see the cow and the chickens.

Grama asked what I wanted to do and I asked her to teach me to knit. She quickly saw that I was inept at knitting with either hand, so she just taught me right-handed. She gave me a pattern for slippers with pom-poms, and I decided I'd make a pair for each of my family members for Christmas.

In my enthusiasm, I finished off two pair for my little sisters rapidly. Dad's were the biggest and took the longest, and then a few days before Christmas I finished Tommy's. My mom's were going to be extra special with variegated blue yarn. Knit seven, purl 2, knit was coming together nicely when I got distracted by Christmas celebrations.

Christmas Eve about 10:pm I still had one and a half slippers left to finish, plus all the pom-poms. Tom's room was across the hall, so he willingly came over to my room and learned to make pom-poms. I was glad for the company. We sat up until 3:00 am until I purled my last stitch and gathered the toes together for the crowning balls of fluff.

I'd never been so proud of a Christmas present in my life! Love and sweet thoughts were knitted right into each slipper. The gift-giving experience touched me for the first time. True giving is caring about the person, spending time in finding or creating just the right thing, and giving generously from the heart. That leads to feeling joy in the presentation.

The slippers were made of wool. When I later made some for myself, they itched my feet and I never wore them, but I noticed the others had theirs on occasionally. My mom wore hers til the strings of yarn unraveled and the pom poms dropped off. She understood that gift-giving is even more fun when the recipient appreciates the effort. She knew I'd knit our hearts together in love by offering a gift of myself. After all, that's how she gave her gifts. I'd learned the art of giving from her.

"Hearts knit together in unity and love."


melissa walker said...

Marty--I love your writing and your stories! These Christmas reminisces make me excited for all the memories our children will have growing up!

Jake said...

That was so sweet! No wonder you are such a great knitter. I am wearing a pair you made me right now!!!

Christie said...

What a fun surprise - I never knew you could knit. I can just imagine your loving mom toting around in the slippers you made.

Bev said...

this knitting thing is still around -- I'm knitting slippers this Christmas!!

gramakas said...

You have such a talent for telling your stories! I NEVER knew you could knit? I'm SO impressed! When we are in the old folks home we'll have lots to do--you can knit and I'll quilt.

Travelin'Oma said...

I actually did knit you some slippers, Gab, when you were about three. I'm sure those are the ones you've kept and cherished.

kenju said...

When you tell your wonderful stories, I feel I had a deprived childhood (and I didn't really)!

Moon said...

I really loved reading this! What a special story. I personally never mastered the art of knitting...but I taught myself to sew as an adult. Funny that growing up, we never had any influences of art, crafts, sewing etc, mom didn't do any of those things...and all 3 of us girls ended up being really crafty lol.

Unknown said...

I am really new at this, but found your post through google. I was interested in the sampler we stitched when we were Larks: Greet the day with a song....Make others happy....Serve gladly.
Fun memories. Thanks for sharing. Janice :)

Lauren said...

Hello! I made a charity called "Stiches for Shelters" which is where I sell my knitting crafts and donate the proceeds to animal shelters. I REALLY loved your knit heart, and I was wondering if I could use it as my logo. I will credit your site on my site if you will let me use it. Thank you! :).

Travelin'Oma said...

You're welcome to use the knit heart!

Erin said...

Hi, I was wondering if you crocheted that heart? If so, could I please have the pattern or can you tell me where you got the pattern? I love it! Thanks!

ntexas99 said...

I would love to use the knitted heart as an illustration for a blog post about mending a broken heart. I have included a link back to the original source. If you would prefer that I not use the illustration, please let me know and I will remove it immediately. Thank you.