Tuesday, July 24, 2012


My mother turns 80 years old this September.  We're known in my family for going a little over-the-top on birthdays...and Christmas...and Easter...and Groundhog's Day...  This birthday, however, called for something beyond the norm, even by our standards.  My sister and I had talked about taking our mother on a trip, but she doesn't enjoy travel much these days and she nicely put the brakes on that idea.  She doesn't like big gatherings, so we're not attempting to corral long lost friends and relatives for a surprise party.  What then?

July 13 marked exactly 80 days until my mother's 80th birthday, so my sister and I have assembled a collection of gifts, one for each day and each representing a year of her life.  She's currently up to 1943, so I'm safe in saying that the first gifts have included a recipe booklet from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, a compilation disc of 1930s music, postcards from the 1939 New York World's Fair, 1943 secretarial magazines, and handmade items from vintage patterns crafted by my sister and me.  My mother is chronicling her months-long birthday celebration in weekly blog updates over at Lillian's Cupboard (found here).

Personally I'm thrilled to no longer have to keep my knitting projects from the last four months under wraps.  I was constantly hiding my works-in-progress when my mother stopped by and I couldn't take part in the weekly Yarn Along over at  the Small Things blog since mommy is my most dedicated reader.  Now that the gift-giving has started, I can at least reveal the four hand-knitted items she's received so far.


This 1933 pattern is from the U.K. and can be found for free here.  Once I figured out the modern equivalent of the British needles used, the pattern itself was a piece of cake.  They're done is wool sock yarn and I chose a charcoal gray color which just seemed to fit with the Depression-era pattern.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here


This reversable baby blanket was made from a pattern provided by none other than former First Lady, Mrs. Herbert Hoover.  It was my first attempt at double-knitting and I found the process so slow and aggravating I'll probably never do it again.  The results, however, I think were rather pretty, especially the way you get the thin stripes of pink and green on both sides.  It's the perfect size for my mother's 13 year old dog, Rusty, to lounge on.  I did it in pink and pale green that is the same color as my mother's beloved Jadeite.  The pattern can be found free here.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here.


The pattern itself is very plain and suited more for a military man in freezing climates than a suburban woman, but I couldn't resist knitting up this Navy Watch Cap from 1941.  It'll be a nice hat for her to keep in the car in case of emergency...or to put to use if she decides to take up cat burglary in her 80s.  The free pattern can be found on the Red Cross Museum's web site here and you can download a PDF of the original type-written pattern, which is neat to look at all by itself.  Once I figured out the type of yarn and size of needle (a common problem with older patterns), it was a breeze to knit...if ungodly boring.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here.

It's a little big on Foghorn, but looks
very nice on Grandma.

Last year I got my mother into reading Agatha Christie mysteries, so naturally when I stumbled on a pattern for a scarf inspired by Miss Marple, Christie's elderly spinster detective, I couldn't resist.  Christie's The Body in the Library was published in 1942, so I included a copy of the book with the scarf, knit in a color called Chipmunk Tweed.  Definitely looks like something an older lady would wear in an English village.  The free pattern can be found here.  Full information can be found in my Ravelry notes here.

More vintage knitty goodness is still to come, but I'm afraid that's all I can reveal at the moment.  I hope you all can stand the suspense until I can reveal the next pattern...  Come on, admit it.  This is more suspenseful than game seven of the World Series.


*  So Mad I Could Knit

*  The Millinery Marathon


Alison said...

This is a wonderful idea, Shannon! I know your mom will forever treasure those thoughtful gifts.

quilt32 said...

It's so much fun opening a gift every day and, of course, the hand-knit gifts are especially treasured. Love the picture of granddaughter in the scarf.

Impera_Magna said...

Thanks so much for sharing these patterns! I love the Miss Marple scarf and it will be happening soon.

I am also enjoying celebrating your mother's birthday with you all... the gifts are fantastic!

dezertsuz said...

I've been enjoying reading about all of this on your mother's blog. I think you two girls are so special! Makes me wish I'd had daughters instead of sons. =) When I reach 80, I'll probably be lucky to get a card in the mail. LOL