One of the advantages to traveling to new places is getting to meet new people. Tom and I have really been blessed by all the great people we have been able to meet and work with in the National Parks. One of the advantages of meeting new people is I have new people to give my knitting to, so I have done a bunch of knitting at Grand Portage.
I love to knit, but my family is getting tired of receiving knitted gifts (how many scarves or hats do you really need?). A knitter really likes it when their knitting is appreciated. Also, here at Grand Portage I have been helping two other volunteers become better knitters. Debbie already spins and has knitted some wonderful things – she just needed encouragement. Val is a beginning knitter but she catches on really quickly and is knitting up a storm.
So I have been knitting a bunch of stuff. I knit when things are slow at work. Like I did at Chickamauga and Kings Mountain, I knit historically accurate things. When I am finished with something I give it to the person who seems to need it the most (another consideration is who it will fit). So here are some pictures of my knitting at Grand Portage with descriptions.
First done was a Voyageur Hat that I gave to Ranger Jared. I knitted this during the first week of training. Val and Deb immediately wanted to knit Voyageur hats for their husbands. You might notice that the hats are very similar to the Liberty caps I knitted at Kings Mountain. They are the same pattern with a slight alteration at the end.
[In looking for the link to my post about knitting at Kings Mountain, I realized that I never wrote a post about all the liberty caps I knitted. So – at Kings Mountain I made eight matching Liberty Caps for the cannon crew. They were based on a pattern in a book on Revolutionary War knitting and modeled on a painting that is at Kings Mountain.]
I also knitted a cap in the same style for one of the maintenance guys at Kings Mountain who was going back to Clemson full-time this fall. He wanted a Clemson hat that he could wear to cold football games.
The next piece of knitting at Grand Portage was a Voyageur hat for Tom. I read a piece on historical knitting in the 1700’s by a person who insists there wasn’t ribbing (knit one, purl one) during the 1700’s. I think she is full of hooey, but I spent hours and hours knitting Tom a Voyageur hat that didn’t have ribbing on it. It is a double knit hat that looks like a long football finished. When you double the hat, you can adjust the length and you have an extra warm and water resistant hat. Tom has worn it proudly the whole summer at Grand Portage. It was knit with fingering weight yarn on size 2 needles and I thought I would never get it done.
I was tired of Liberty / Voyageur hats, so I switched to something that is much appreciated in Minnesota: mittens. I started with thrummed mittens that I gave to Volunteer Coordinator and Ranger Beth. No one here had ever heard of thrummed mittens so it was a good history lesson. Thrummed hats and mittens were worn by men who worked in cold water (sailors and fishermen) from the 16th century on. Thrummed mittens are some of the warmest mittens you can wear and only get warmer as you use them. Ranger Beth seemed delighted with the pair I gave her, even if they are a little out of season.
I moved on to fingerless mitts, using a pattern that was written in 1742 and adapted for current knitting techniques. The first pair were darling but a little small. Fortunately Ranger Carrie is darling and has small hands. She plays the violin and gives fiddle programs here at Grand Portage. I remembered the problems she had getting her hands warm enough to play at the beginning of the season and gave her the first pair. She said her hands are always cold, so the mitts would help to keep them warm.
I liked the pattern so much that I started another pair. When I finished them I gave them to the Chief of Interpretation Pam. She works in her office a lot and in the winter the office is pretty cold. I thought they might help keep her hands warm through the long winter here.
I have been teaching Val and Deb how to do felted slippers but I think I will write a separate post about my trials and tribulations with that.
The most recent knitting at Grand Portage is a hat I made for Val. She and Johnny walk in the Susan Komen Three-Day Walk for a Cure for Breast Cancer every year. She found a crocheted hat pattern that she liked. I found a knitted breast cancer awareness hat pattern that I liked even better. It knitted up quickly and Val showed it to everyone after I gave it to her.
I love to knit and I love to give away the things that I knit. Knowing that people like and will wear the things that I knit is more as much a gift to myself than it is a gift to them. Next on my needles: a prayer shawl that I will send to Wedgewood to be used as needed.