My Great-Grandmother’s Knitting

Written by Sarah on March 11th, 2014 Posted in knits, life

I like to think that I’m a pretty expert knitter. But my great-grandmother’s work was something I can’t even describe. I never met her but I have always admired her skills.

The family story goes that Grandma Lena would knit sweaters for the soldiers during the war. She’d take whatever was given to her in the kit from the Red Cross or wherever and throw it aside in favor of smaller needles and thinner yarn. She’d make them entirely on tiny needles claiming that this would keep them much warmer than that cheap stuff. Then she’d go about making beautiful sweaters that everyone agrees probably never ended up with any privates but went straight to some lucky officer.

My parents still have a few pieces that she made for various family members and they’re absolutely gorgeous. You have to take a look. I can’t imagine this was knit on anything bigger than a size 1 needle. My wrists ache just thinking about knitting a whole vest at such a fine gauge. I’m obsessed with the way the cables decrease at the shoulders for a gorgeous neckline shaping. Isn’t that fantastic?

grandma lena

Here’s a detail from another sweater vest. Do you see how tiny these stitches are? I can’t even believe this was made by a human being. I’m not sure about whether she worked from a pattern. I have a sneaking suspicion that she wasn’t, though.

grandma lena 2

The cable running up the center (which you can see on the bottom of this detail) is actually one of my favorite cables. (I’ve used it on these socks.) It’s nice to know we have similar tastes.

grandma lena 3

It’s so inspiring for me to know that I come from a family of talented knitters! I’m not sure I could ever attempt a piece as detailed as Lena’s work. I’m just not patient and, frankly, I’m a little sore. But it definitely makes me want to challenge myself!

I know it’s tough to tell from my crappy iPhone photos but any guesses to what size needles she was using? Who keeps challenging you when it comes to craft?

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Comments (4)

  • March 11, 2014 at 10:14 am |

    Wow! That’s beautiful work! How cool that this is a family tradition!

  • March 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm |

    Wow, that is just inspiring! Talk about things that stand the test of time. These are beautiful, and so well made. I’m jealous of your grandmother’s mad skillz. (Yes they are skillz with a ‘z’)

  • Aunt Sherry
    March 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm |

    Hi, It it is not just family law (and having owned a few pieces as my child self). My Gramma Lena died when I was 14 so I got to see her and her sisters knit. She was the best of them; and crochet, that would have been Aunt Sukey (Sarah); and did you know Aunt Rose was also a milliner and seamstress? Anyway, I saw her knit and saw the thin yarn she kint with and it was sz 0 and sz 1 needles (and she was very shy about beautiful work)

    • March 14, 2014 at 8:22 am |

      I wish I could’ve met her! We have a very talented family!!!

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