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Home : Community : Newsletters & Stories

Newsletters & Stories

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Stories from the Prayer Shawl Ministry
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Once, early October at our house was an energetic buzz of boots; the serious winter kind--with thick felt innards and heavy treads. Lined up in our front hall, they were sorted and measured against the three sets of growing feet belonging to my young daughters. A soft pile of down-filled snow suits was inspected. Did last year's jacket and pants still fit? Who could wear hand-me-downs and what purchases in order? Heaps of hats, scarves, and mittens were picked over. Orders were taken for replacements in new colors, styles, and with special accommodations for ponytails. Wanting to supply my loved ones with warmth, I gratefully took of charge at our temporary winterizing command post. A happy position for any knitter.

Childhood does pass quickly, and with it went some of the mothering tasks I thought I might do forever. Like winterizing. Slowly, over the years, coats have been bought without me. Outside my radar, boots have been acquired. Sometimes even hats and mittens were obtained from outside sources. This fall our front hall is very quiet. My daughters are newly independent. Still, well before the first frost hit here, a familiar longing to knit some winter warmth for them seized me.

"Is it cold yet there?" I asked my youngest daughter Lelia. She is 1300 miles east of our Iowa City home, at college in Massachusetts. With the only slightest bit of coaching, I was told a pair of wristers and hat would be appreciated. And soon a matching set in soft alpaca was sent. She's wearing them now.

"What’s the weather like?" I asked my oldest daughter Meera who moved to Philadelphia at the end of the summer.

"Not cold yet," she assured me. But she was thinking ahead. Could I make her some "pick-pocket" gloves?

"You mean wristers with fingers," I said. I wanted to get this right.

"Yes, and could they reach up to the second joint of each finger?"

"No problem," I told her gleefully. In my mind I had already cast on. And when they were finished, I bundled them with more hand-knits—a pair of socks and a hat. My husband, Rody, mailed them from the main post office two weeks ago.

My middle daughter Flory, my November baby, lives in town. Occasionally she flits by with her laundry or to grab a bite to eat. A busy student, she did take the time recently to let me know that she'd like a hat like I made Rody last year. Very soon, before birthday, she'll have it and a pair of matching mittens. Not quite like her dad's, though. The hat is little more fun--more colorful. And her felted mittens are embroidered.

Winterizing is a mother's story. It's a knitter's story, too. It's about how what we knit is needed.

"They're perfect," Meera told me when her wristers arrived. "Just in time, too. My hands were so cold bicycling."

Years of my knitting history belong to winterizing my family. And I'll admit, looking at our photos from the early days, often it's the kitten hat I made for baby Flory, or the heavy handspun wool totem jacket all three wore as toddlers that keeps me riveted. Back then, knowing that they battled the elements wrapped in my mom-made comfort gave me great comfort. It still does. But as my children need me less, my circle widens. These days, my needles are also at the ready for a friend's cold hands or a neighbor's freezing ears. And in this time of great economic hardship for so many, a thick warm hat to donate to community drives. Now I winterize and share the warmth.

Bleecker Street Hat & ScarfSome winterizing notes: Hats can be simple affairs. Beginning knitters can make Ed's Hat, a pattern I wrote a few winters ago. Knit in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, it is an easy, warm, and fast. Perfect for a charitable donation or gifting to a neighbor, it's the hat I find myself making most often.

In addition, many excellent winterizing patterns (scarves, gloves, wristers, and more), both knitting and crochet, are available for free on Easy, Intermediate and Advanced--browse by skill level and find that suits your skill level. For more tips on finding patterns on our website, click here to view a short video.

Tip #1: To make extra warm garments, try combining a strand of very lightweight yarn like LB Collection Silk Mohair with a worsted weight or heavier one. You might also like to mix Vanna's Glamour and Vanna's Choice like I did in the Roll-Down Wristers. Be sure to make a gauge swatch, and adjust your needle size accordingly to match the pattern's requiremnets.

Tip #2: For charitable knitting, I recommend a machine-washable yarn, like a member of the Wool-Ease family or a synthetic like Vanna's Choice.

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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