Category Archives: History

Grandma’s foot-form darning “egg”

When I started knitting seriously, I discovered that my grandmother, Irene, had owned a darning egg. My mother and her sisters grew up on a farm, and Mom vividly recalled her mother sitting in the evenings on the farmhouse, diligently darning socks using the wooden darner.

My aunt Kathy apparently was given the darning egg when my grandmother died in 1989, and used it in her country-eque decorated homes all over the world. So for a year I patiently hinted and pondered and “mentioned” to my aunts how much I’d like to have Grandma’s darning egg someday. Imagine my surprise when yesterday, an unknown package arrived in the mail for me. It was the darning egg from Aunt Kathy! She had decided to surprise me, instead of tormenting me with the idea of getting it one day if I was nice to her (we are all about blackmail on mom’s side of the family).

This darning “egg” is actually not egg-shaped at all. It is, in fact, a foot-form wooden darner, a design that was patented in Nov. 1907 and was commonly used in the early to mid-20th century. It has the words “FOOT-FORM” stamped across its top, and you can clearly see how much it was used by the tiny scrapes in the wood. I’m glad to see that these antique foot form “eggs” are often found on eBay for rather affordable prices, so that anyone, if they like, can own a little piece of history.

Grandma married my grandfather, Pap-Pap, in 1945, and they left the farm life and moved to the “city” in 1957, when my mother, the middle child, was 9. They bought their first house for $3,000 and were thrilled to have indoor plumbing. In this photo, from 1950, my mother is the one simultaneously holding her naked dolly and her bladder, while my Aunt Kathy is the one in bunting in my grandmother’s arms. I do love the turned down cuffs of Grandma’s white bobby socks in this image. While Grandma only lived on the farm for 12 years,  I’m sure that she used this wooden darner for many more years of her life. I’ll treasure it always.

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KnitGyver!

I’m trying to figure out if I’m extremely lazy or extremely creative.

I am finishing up a scarf tonight, and needed to sew in the ends. When I picked up my notions tin, I saw that my darning needle was MIA – the other one was down the hallway on a bookcase. But I didn’t want to walk down the hallway to get the darning needle from the bookcase. So I picked up a paperclip that was lying on the desk in front of me and turned it into a needle. Scarf finished. Without me having to move my butt at all. I know. I’m so incredibly lazy it hurts.

Yeah, you know that whole thing about 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration? I think that is a crock. Try 99% laziness and 1% inspiration. Cornflakes? They were invented after some guy let his boiled wheat sit out and go stale. Saccharin, Cyclamate, and Aspartame, those artificial sweeteners? Discovered by scientists who forgot to wash their hands after playing around in the lab. Chocolate chip cookies? They were invented when the baker didn’t have enough chocolate so she skimped! Even fireworks were an accidental invention in the kitchen, of all places!

So there – I wasn’t being lazy, I was being inventive. A creative “genius.” A regular KnitGyver!

Ok, I’m going to bed.

My First Project – The Knitting Jenny

Recently I discovered an old thing I’d made as a child, buried in the back of a closet at my parents’ house. It greatly amuses me so I thought I’d share. I’d forgotten completely that I’d worked with yarn at an early age. I looked it up online and after a bit of searching I discovered that what I had was a version of the famous ’80s crafting toy The Knitting Jenny.

The Knitting Jenny

I received the Knitting Jenny as a gift when I was a child of about 10, most likely from my grandmother or great-aunt. As I had already learned how to sew, I quickly threaded the acrylic yarn through the square plastic “potholder” type object, using a different colored yarn for each row so that it created a fun concentric design. Now that I think about it, this was probably supposed to be one of those rug-like objects, where you pull the yarn through and create an image out of the short, fluffy bits that pop through the top. Oh well, I wasn’t really into instructions even then.

The Potholder Thingie

I remember that I lost interest in the loom when it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. It wasn’t very sturdy, I didn’t know what all oft he other little oddments were that went with it (pompom makers, crochet hook, knitting needles) and I was hitting my “anti-Barbie-pink” phase. Needless to say, it took another decade before I actually began knitting. I can proudly say, though, that my first “knitting” project was attempted at a much younger age.

My Knitting Jenny

I’m amazed that all of this stuff survived to adulthood, and I rather like that the knitting needles are so well-designed for small hands. Naturally, if I’d never gotten back into yarn stuff I would probably have just pitched this all, but it seems appropriate to keep it because it shows how far I’ve come. I think I’ll save this for nostalgia’s sake and for my kids to learn to knit with.