Thursday, January 16, 2014


Foghorn modeling the
Miss Marple Scarf for
my mother
Just as cold January days make one think of soup and hot chocolate, it also makes me think of wool and knitting.  Yes, I have knitting on the brain in the summer as well (and the spring and the fall), but there is something about gloomy, snowy days that just cry out for woven yarn draped across a lap.  Having finished my son's latest pair of socks, I turned to some rose colored tweed wool and a pattern for a Miss Marple scarf for myself.  Although I didn't learn to knit until I was past 40, I longed to do it from an early age, probably going back to grade school when I watched Wilma Flintstone work with a pair of brontosaurus bones chanting, "knit one, purl two, knit one, purl two."  When I was 12 I became addicted to Agatha Christie mysteries and wanted desperately to be like her elderly sleuth, Miss Marple, who could solve a murder while knitting a baby sweater for her goddaughter.

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple,
solving crime in the Caribbean

Once I caught the knitting bug and actually mastered it enough to make something wearable, I began to mentally gather a roster of fellow knitters.  While my husband may find my tendency to publicly knit embarrassing, I know I'm in good company.  Just consider the company I keep:

Joan Crawford -- no man dared tell
her not to knit in public.
 She may not have been Mother of the Year, but Joan Crawford was a compulsive knitter.  She claimed it calmed her "nervous hands".  It had the added bonus of screwing with her acting contemporaries.  Joan famously aggravated the crap out of Norma Shearer during the filming of The Women by sitting out of camera range when Ms. Shearer was filming her close-ups, needles clicking away the whole time.  I'm sure this was merely a woman completely caught up in her handicraft and in no way was meant to break a competitor's fellow actor's concentration.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt is known as one of the most accomplished first ladies in history, champion for the poor and women and minorities.  She was also arguably the most famous knitter for the war effort in the 1940s.  In fact she helped start the whole WWII knitting campaign at a Knit for Defense tea held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in September of 1941.  She went on to become known as "The First Knitter of the Land."

OK, this guy's fictional, but I adore him nonetheless.  Pushing Daisies fans will know him as Emerson Cod, the private eye.  His catch phrase, "Oh, hell no!" is very popular in my household.  When not solving crimes, he likes to relax with a couple straight needles and manly colored yarn.  How can you not love a big, burly detective who can knit his own gun holster?

Christina Hendricks
How can you not love a gal who made curves popular again and showed that not every grown woman has to have the measurements of a 13 year old boy.  As Joan on Mad Men, she wiggled into the hearts of guys all over Manhattan.  Maybe she should take a tip from her real life counterpart and knit Don Draper a nice fair isle sweater.  Maybe that's what has been throwing him into the arms of all those women.  The poor man is just cold.

Dorothy Parker with knitting bag
(and some dude, maybe a husband)
"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."  How can you not love Dorothy Parker?  I lack her writing talent, but she and I have the same distaste for the domestic drudgery of cooking and cleaning.  (Unlike Ms. Parker, I do those activities, while she reportedly threw dirty underwear back in the drawer with the clean and just let her maid figure it out.)  Like her, I also think "a little bad taste is like a dash of paprika."  I just wish I'd been clever enough to come up with the line.  Anyway, in a bit of a paradox she happened to also have been an avid knitter.  Perhaps she composed all her quotable quips while her hands were occupied with a nice garter stitch scarf and her mind was free to wander. 

The list of famous knitters is long and ranges from Sarah Jessica Parker to Queen Elizabeth.  There are even reports of some men getting in the act.  While I doubt the picture is truly a candid shot from personal life, I at least like the idea of the company I keep...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a good post with some interesting information. I'm very happy you learned to knit. I thoroughly enjoy my socks, mittens, afghans, scarves, shawls .....