Free Patterns

Welcome. if you are here looking for free patterns you will find them listed in a menu on the right of this page. You may have to scroll down. Click on what interests you. A page will come up with the pattern. Click on "File" in the upper left hand corner. Then click on "download original". If you like what you see click on "save a copy " in the floating toolbar at the bottom of the page. I hope the pattern makes up for these extra steps. Enjoy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Merry Christmas and Holiday Season to all the readers of this blog. I am humbled by the very nice comments and emails I have gotten. May each one of you have a joyous holiday season full of warmth and love.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Christmas Stuff

Well, I am one up on gifts for next Christmas. Found this pattern here It is made on two needles but with some ingenious shaping by designer Joy Green, it looks like a traditional stocking when seamed. The names are put on with duplicate stitch which you will have to chart yourself, but there are details giving you the size of the letters. The pattern calls for more ornamentation, but I decided to go with the basic knit. I have one more to make, and next year the two will be stuffed with toys and sent to two of my great grandchildren one of whom will be four next year and the other five. That leaves several years yet to come when the stockings can be hung on the mantle for Santa to fill.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Memories

In 1999 my family was gathered for Christmas at the home of one of our grandsons. After dinner everyone was talking about their Christmas memories. I said I would tell them of my memories of the first Christmas after Pearl Harbor. The children were instructed by their parents to sit down and listen. "Grandma's going to tell us a story" I related the events of that day, and the children sat wide eyed and motionless. They were so enthralled I decided to write down my memories of that day, print them and have them bound. Each family got a copy. That was the beginning of my writing down these stories for later generations. Now here is the story.


When I was eleven years old the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor where I lived with my mother, stepfather and sister. My sister and I thought being in the middle of a bombing was pretty exciting stuff. We saw planes diving, huge plumes of black smoke, adults crying, people running, and there was noise, lots and lots of noise. Soon, however, we found war meant we couldn’t go to school because our school had been bombed, it meant we had black paper on the windows so the light wouldn’t shine through and show the enemy where we were, it meant we had to take our gas masks every time we went out, it meant we had to sleep downstairs on cots and it meant there were no Christmas trees.

Christmas trees were shipped to Hawaii in big cargo ships. Now they were saving the ships for important things people needed like food and medicine. As Christmas approached Daddy looked and looked for a Christmas tree but couldn’t find one anywhere. Then one day he came home with a big grin on his face. He held up a little artificial tree he had found in a department store. My sister and I weren’t too sure. Back in that time they didn’t know how to make trees that look real as they do now, and the little tree didn’t look real at all! It was only about sixteen inches tall. There were big spaces between the “branches” which were made of sticks covered with what looked like green crepe paper. Mama just smiled and said, “Wait and see.”

Daddy brought the big box of ornaments downstairs. Mama put the little tree at one end of the dining room table. Instead of the sheet we usually used, she put a pillowcase around the bottom to look like snow. Daddy’s job was to put on the lights. He wound a string of lights around the tree. The string was too long so he had to hide some of it under the pillowcase. The lights were turned on, and Mama stood back as she did every year to see if there were too many lights of the same color in one place. She took a red bulb from the side and put it in the back. She took a blue bulb and exchanged it for a green one. Finally she was satisfied. Now it was my sister’s and my turn. Our job was to put on the ornaments until the little tree was covered with bright, shiny balls. Mama always put on the icicles. She was very fussy and wanted them to hang straight and cover every branch. Mama claimed the rest of us just threw them on the tree in bunches.

When we had finished we stood back, and Daddy turned on the lights. The little tree stood straight and proud. My sister and I thought it even looked a little taller. It’s red and green and blue lights were reflected in the silver and gold ornaments. Never mind that the ornaments were too big for the tree or that the icicles on the bottom branches lay on the table like pools of silver. We thought it was the most beautiful tree we had ever seen.

It wasn’t long before presents began to arrive. Some were brought by the mailman. Some just appeared as though out of nowhere. Mama couldn’t put the presents under the tree. There was no “under” to it. She stacked them around the back and sides, and soon the little tree was almost surrounded by bright Christmas paper and shiny bows.

On Christmas morning my parents were expecting company for Christmas dinner. When it was time to set the table Mama wondered what to do with the little Christmas tree. It’s pretty boxes had been torn apart that morning by my sister and me in our search for presents. Still, it didn’t seem right to move it after it had done so much to make our Christmas a happy one, so every one agreed to scrunch down and sit close together. All through dinner the little tree stood in it’s place at the end of the table like an honored guest, and it was the last thing I saw as I drifted off to sleep that night.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pearl Harbor Part Three: Evacuation

This is the final installment of my account of the bombing at Pearl Harbor. As an adult I returned to Hawaii twice. Each time I resided there for several years before returning to California. Other than the obvious memorials, I saw little to remind one of the events of that day.

In February of 1942 we were told we would be going back to the states. Our convoy was made up of the Lurline, the Aquitania and the U.S. Grant as well as various naval vessels whose job it was to protect us should a Japanese submarine appear. The Lurline was a luxury liner commandeered for the job. Most of the military dependents being evacuated from Hawaii were aboard the Lurline. The Aquitania was a British luxury liner that had sailed, without escort, from Australia to join our convoy. The Grant was an old transport reacquired by our Navy in 1940. We were on the Grant along with a handful of other women and children, a large number of soldiers being transported I know not where, and Japanese prisoner of war number one. He had been the commander of a mini sub that had run aground off Barber's Point. He had failed to self-destruct as he was suppose to, and had been captured. The prisoner evidently felt a deep sense of shame at being captured, and great care was taken to see that he did not jump overboard on his daily walk on the deck. However, in a moment of relative privacy he did manage to burn his cheeks with a lighted cigarette, the only means left him to atone.

Those aboard the Lurline had lovely cabins, lounges and dining area. The Grant was Spartan. My mother, my sister and I had a small cabin with two metal bunks and a metal cot. However, in some ways we were the fortunate ones. The Grant was part of a fleet accustomed to emergencies. We were well provisioned. Even the ship's store was open and well stocked. The Lurline had to ration fresh water. While they had plenty of hotdogs and ice cream, toward the end of the voyage other menu items were running low.

The soldiers aboard the Grant had even fewer amenities than we civilians did. They were assigned bunks below deck. Some even had to put up a hammock in which to sleep. As their quarters were warm, close and rather smelly, they spent as much time as they could on deck. They were not allowed to mix with the civilians so huddled in a designated area at the bow of the ship where they were subjected to the motion of the sea and a constant wetting down from spray.

And so we sailed across the Pacific zigging and zagging. Never mind that the Aquitania had sailed across hundreds of miles of ocean and had not seen a single Japanese submarine, ship or plane, the Navy went by the book. Every morning rumors flew; a periscope had been sighted during the night, a ship had been seen. If you asked how the teller knew, they always replied a sailor had told them. It was obvious even to me that the sailors were having fun with the more gullible ladies aboard. The first few days out we had a number of general quarters drills. We had been told that when the Claxton sounded we were to go immediately to our cabins and wait five minutes. From there we were to go to the dining room where everyone would be told what to do. To my knowledge everyone complied, everyone but me. I was miserably seasick from the moment I came aboard and was not about to leave my bed to go below decks where the air was stale and the motion of the ship even more pronounced. When the others went below I sat or lay on my bunk. (There were no chairs in the cabin.) I could hear the men at their battle stations, officers hollering orders and the firing of the ship's guns. I felt part of a big adventure.

One morning we awoke to find we were all alone. The convoy had steamed on without us. The Grant had a developed a problem with the rudder, and we had been steaming in circles for much of the night. As it turned out, the rest of the convoy had been moving very slowly in order that we might catch up so when the rudder was repaired it did not take long to find them. On another occasion one of our escort vessels steamed off over the horizon to investigate a ship sighting but soon returned having determined it was nothing. In truth it was an uneventful voyage.

Before we disembarked in San Francisco there was a meeting in which we were told not to reveal anything that happened at Pearl Harbor. My mother sat there, very attentive, while hiding the first newspaper printed after the bombing under her blouse. It was printed before censorship and would have been confiscated had they known she had it. It was not shown to anyone when we got home but became the first page of a large collection of scrapbooks she kept on the war. I am sure every one took their responsibility very seriously. My sister and I certainly did and never responded to questions about what had happened.

When we landed the Red Cross met us at the dock. We were surprised to find out we were "refugees". The Red Cross ladies had warm clothes, hot coffee and donuts ready for us. They transported us to local hotels where each family made their own arrangements to go home. Home for my mother, my sister and myself was San Diego, California where we, like the rest of the country, waited.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pearl Harbor Part Two: Life After the Bombing

The first thing done after getting home was to make our apartment safer in case of another attack. Blackout paper was put on all the windows. An old upright piano was moved in front of the living room windows to minimize any damage from broken glass if the windows were broken. Our bedrooms were upstairs, but now cots for my sister and me were set up in the living room to make it easier for us to get out should there be another attack. There were other changes as well. All the elementary school age children in the housing had attended school at Hickam Field. In addition to the damage done at Hickam during the bombing, all military bases were now under strict security. Our school was closed.

Everyone was issued a gas mask. My stepfather did not trust the masks being given the civilian population so arranged for us to have those issued to the Marines. In a time when all women carried a purse, a gas mask posed a problem. They were housed in big canvas bags, and the wartime regulations said you could not leave the house without it. Rather than carrying both a purse and gas mask, women simply transferred the contents of their purses to the bag holding the gas mask. The authorities vigorously opposed this practice, but to no avail.

Our nights were punctuated by the sounds of machine gun fire. Young sentries, alone and scared, saw an invading Japanese soldier in every shadow. Several times a week the air raid siren would blare as an unidentified plane was spotted. Because of the blackout the night was completely dark, and I thought the bright beams from the searchlights crisscrossing the sky in ever changing patterns were beautiful. Then too, the children in the housing were no longer able to do the things we usually did. No more riding our bicycles to the rec center, it had become a temporary hospital. No more going on the base to go swimming or to the Y for an ice cream cone. All military sites were off limits.

It is remarkable how quickly humans can adapt to change. Soon our lives under these new rules seemed normal---until Christmas. Normally Christmas trees were shipped to the islands in cargo vessels. Now all available space was reserved for essential items, and since Christmas trees were not considered essential, there were none. All the parents were trying hard to maintain a sense of normalcy for the sake of the children. Everyone was looking in vain for a Christmas tree. One day my stepfather came home wearing a big grin. He held up a brown paper bag from which he produced an artificial tree. It was only about fourteen or fifteen inches tall and unlike today's artificial trees, bore little resemblance to a real one. My sister and I were not impressed. The box of ornaments was brought out, and we began to decorate the tree as we had each year. Our stepfather put on a string of lights, my sister and I put on the ornaments and mother put on the icicles. A pillowslip was wrapped around the base of the tree to represent snow. Some of the lights had to be hidden under the "snow" as the string was too long for the little tree. The ornaments were too big and the icicles on the bottom branches lay on the table like pools of silver, but somehow it didn't matter. We had a shiny Christmas tree and Christmas was on the way. I remember that as one of the best Christmases I ever had. There was a feeling of warmth, of closeness, of caring that was almost tangible, a sense of being blessed somehow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pearl Harbor Part One : The Bombing

There has been interest expressed in my posting my memories of the bombing at Pearl Harbor. As the anniversary draws near this seemed an appropriate time to do so. As the account is long it has been divided into three installments.

On December 7, 1941 my family and I were living in the military housing just outside the Navy Base at Pearl Harbor. I was eleven years old. This is my memory of the events of that day.

That morning a very loud noise awakened my sister and me. When we looked out the windows to see what was going on, we saw planes swooping and diving overhead. Here and there were plumes of black smoke. Like everyone else, we thought it an exercise being conducted by Hickam Field just across the highway. We heard the phone and our mother's voice but paid little attention until she ran upstairs to tell us our stepfather had called from the base, and the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor. Most of our neighbors were standing in the parking lot gazing at the aerial show. When mother ran out and told them of the bombing, some of the women started to cry and everyone hustled their children inside. All the men that were home began to run for the base and their duty stations.

Unaware that our planes had already been destroyed on the ground, we thought they would arrive soon and drive off the Japanese. My mother and our neighbors, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Pipes, were afraid that in order to escape, the Japanese would drop their bombs anywhere. As the housing was the closest target they decided to take us children and leave. Everyone hurriedly got dressed. My mother put on a suit, hose, and spectator pumps. Having been out the night before, the contents of her purse were in a black evening bag. The fashion dictates of the time said a woman's bag and shoes should match so we all waited somewhat impatiently while my mother changed from the evening bag to one that matched the spectator pumps. Having averted a fashion faux pas, we went out on the road to hitch a ride to the home of a friend. While we waited, a Japanese plane dove on us, and seeing we were women and children, the pilot smiled and waved as he pulled up. The noise, the smoke, women crying, men running and now a plane diving on us were exciting stuff for an eleven year old. We more or less commandeered the car of a gentleman driving toward the base to see what was going on. He drove us into the hills to the home of our friend. On the way we saw rooftops covered with people watching the attack, as well as half clothed military personnel running for the base.

When we arrived at our friend's the women sat and talked quietly. The mood was a somber one. The radio was kept on for any news and we listened intently. Even we children were subdued. The day crept by broken by lunch and dinner. In the evening the radio announcer said everyone should fill a bathtub full of water so they would have clean water to use if the water supply should be poisoned. One of the ladies filled the tub as instructed. The gravity of our situation was bought home to us when Walter Winchell's newscast came on. Censorship had not as yet been imposed, and one of Winchell's informants had given him what would later be classified information. He began to read the names of all the ships sunk in the attack. When he came to the West Virginia there was a cry from Mrs. Pipes. Her husband was on the West Virginia. She began to cry as the other women tried to console her. It would be two days before she found out her husband had gotten to the pier just as the ship was pulling out so was not aboard when she went down. At bedtime the sleeping arrangements were organized, and everyone went to bed. Before going to bed, my mother put a butcher knife under her pillow. I thought she planned to attack and kill any Japanese that might try to take us captive. It was not until years later I found that because of the stories she had read about the conduct of the Japanese in Nanking, she planned to kill my sister and myself if the Japanese landed and took the island. Fortunately, her resolve was never tested.

Two days later my stepfather arrived to take us home. In full uniform with a side arm, rifle with sling over his shoulder and an ammunition belt, he looked like a stranger. He was the first of the husbands to reappear, and all the ladies flung themselves on him crying and asking for news.

See Part 2 next week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Playing With Yarn

Been laid up with this bum knee for weeks. Only one thing to do, knit. I haven't designed a new pattern in awhile as I have been busy with knitting Christmas gifts. Now that I am finished with the gift knitting I can take up my needles and play with yarn, that is, design a new toy. I find it such fun to make an idea come alive in a 3 D representation. This time it is Ballerina Bear, a little bear in her tutu and tiara. She has evidently advanced pretty far in dance class as she is on her toes. Had a heck of a time getting her tutu full enough without having it too stiff and heavy. Finally got that problem solved, and the rest went along without a hitch. Love it when that happens. It is almost like the toy was meant to be. So I would like to introduce you to Ballerina Bear.

You can find her at my Etsy site or on Ravelry. Both have additional pictures. Let me know what you think. Also I would love to hear from you what kind of toys you would like to see available in patterns. Remember, it is illegal to come out with a pattern for a character that is copyrighted or has a trademark. Anything generic is fair game.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween 1940

In 1940 my mother, my sister and I went to Hawaii to be with my stepfather, a Marine stationed in Pearl Harbor. After moving into our house the first to greet me was a neighborhood girl, 12 year old Lavonne Mckay. (I was ten) We had many adventures which I wrote about in a story for my grandchildren. With Halloween coming up I thought I might post an excerpt dealing with my first real Halloween. You will note a wood spool comes into play here as well.

"As Halloween approached Lavonne McKay kept talking about what fun we would have when the day arrived. Halloween was very different when I was a girl. There were no little children dressed in costumes going door to door for candy and treats. In the country, kids might play tricks on their neighbors, turn over an outhouse or put something on top of a barn that the farmer had to climb up and get the next day, but I had always lived in the suburbs. We didn’t even celebrate Halloween unless we were invited to a party at some one’s house. I had no idea how we were going to have all this fun Lavonne McKay kept talking about. On Halloween night we left my house after dark. Despite the fact it was pitch black outside, Lavonne McKay seemed to know where she was going. I hurried along behind. We sneaked up to the window of a house. Lavonne McKay took a wooden spool from her pocket. It had notches cut into it and a string attached. She pulled the string, and the spool turned against the window making spooky tapping noises. Every time the people inside came to the door to see what was going on, we would crouch down and hide in the bushes. On our third stop there was a car parked in the driveway. “Here”, she said, and handed me a piece of soap. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with soap, and then I saw Lavonne McKay rubbing her piece of soap on the windows of the car. Tentatively I rubbed soap on the windows on my side of the car. It left long gooey white streaks. “Hurry”, she whispered. I rubbed faster. Suddenly the front door flew open. “Get away from that car you kids”, shouted an angry voice. “I’m going to call the cops.” We ran as fast as our legs would carry us. We stumbled over things in the dark but kept on running. We didn’t know where we were going but kept on running, and when we finally stopped to catch our breath Lavonne McKay was laughing. Not little giggles or quiet snickers, but big, bent over, tears in the eyes laughter. I was not laughing. I was sure at any minute a policeman would come looming out of the darkness and take us to jail. Fortunately for the state of my nerves, Lavonne McKay seemed to feel we had accomplished our mission, and we headed for home."

When I got home my mother asked if I had a good time. I lied and said "yes" When she asked what we did I said "nothing much." I thought it better for both my mother and myself if she didn't know.

Spool Knitting

You don't have to be too old to remember when thread was wound on spools made of wood. An empty spool was a treasure for a child. They could be made into a variety of toys. The big plus for little girls was having your dad make the spool into a spool knitter. Now a days we have ready made spool knitters in the craft stores. Even the large, round plastic looms are just a large spool knitter. When I was a child, however, our spool knitters were wood spools into which several finishing nails had been driven evenly spaced around the center hole. You could always count on your grandmother for yarn and a crochet hook to lift the stitches over the nails. We made yards of what I now know is called I cord.

What could you do with all this cord? Well, you coiled it into a circle and stitched the coils together to make rugs for your doll house. Of course they were out of scale, far too thick and heavy, but who cared? You could stitch the coils together to make a hat for a doll or even one for yourself. You could fasten the ends together and make a bracelet. You could make coasters.

While the end product was nice to have it was the process that most girls found fascinating, There was something magic about sitting quietly lifting the yarn over each stitch, turning the spool as you went around and seeing the cord come out of the bottom growing longer and longer. For many little girls it was their introduction to the act of creating something useful out of yarn. It made knitters out of many of us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Life in Show Business

A bum leg that seemed to get worse when sitting at the computer has kept me from posting for awhile. However, I am better so here goes, a look back at my brief career as a band singer.

My stepfather was a Marine, but was also a professional musician. During the early part of WW2 he was stationed in the Pacific, but in 1943 my mother was diagnosed with cancer so he was sent home and put in charge of the Marine Band at the Training Center in San Diego. There was a military band, of course, but within that unit there was also a dance band that played for all kinds of events. Some of the members of the band augmented their military pay by playing with touring bands that came into town. Dances were a major form of entertainment. Every city of any size had a large commercial dance hall in town. Big bands like Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman etc would tour around the country playing for dances on the weekends. Touring was expensive so they seldom took all the musicians. They would pick up some to fill in at each location. I saw all the major bands of the era for nothing. It is amazing where you can go when you are with someone carrying an instrument case.

While in high school I began to date a member of a band. The band was made up of high school seniors and recent graduates and was well established, playing a gig somewhere almost every weekend. One night I went to a rehearsal. They began to play a favorite of mine, and I started softly singing along. Someone in the band heard me, and before I knew it I was the girl singer with a band. I know you have seen it in old movies, that woman sitting on the bandstand waiting for her number, trying to look caught up in the music. That was me.

The war was still on, and tires and gas were hard to get so sometimes several band members whose cars were out of commission were crammed into other vehicles making the trip to and from the dance very uncomfortable. When we got there I would head for the ladies room trying to make myself look presentable while the guys set up. Once the dance started my place was in a folding chair on one side of the bandstand. There I sat, wearing a dress, of course, acutely aware that if I didn't keep my knees together everyone could see up my skirt. Air condtioning was so new it was generally only in theatres who adverised with a banner with icicles on it that said, "Refrigerated Air." Unfortunately, none of the halls we played had it. With all those bodies and activity it soon got quite warm leaving you damp and sticky. I was introduced and walked to the mike, enduring an itch in a place you can not scratch in public. I did my first number. Applause! A gracious smile, a wave of the hand and back to my chair. It was not glamorous or romantic. It was fun and exciting.

My career as a girl singer was short. The band went into the Army as a unit and did some good will tours, and then the war was over, and I went on to sing lullabys to my children.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Child's Back Pack

This back pack is not meant to replace the school backpacks of which the kids are so fond. It was designed for younger kids to use on those long car trips or similar excursions. It will hold a snack, a box of juice and a toy or two to keep them amused. For a sleep over or a trip to Grandma's, jammies, toothbrush, and a comfort toy will fit just fine.

2 balls Lion Brand Jiffy
16 “ circular needle size 8
2 double pointed needles size 8 (optional)
crochet hook size J
one ¾ inch button

Gauge: About 17 stitches to 4 inches. Gauge is not critical. Just be sure your knit fabric is firm enough the contents do not poke through the finished backpack

Designer notes: This back pack is designed with adjustable straps so it should fit most young children.


Cast on 34 stitches. Knit back and forth in garter stitch ( knit every row) for 22 rows. Base should measure about 8” wide by 2 3/4” long.
Next row: (Right side) Knit across 34 stitches, pick up and knit 10 stitches down short side of base, pick up and knit 34 cast on stitches, pick up and knit 10 stitches of short side. (88 stitches) Put marker on needle. From now on you will be knitting in the round.
Knit until bag measures 8” from last ridge of garter stitch..
Eyelet row: (K 2 together, yarn over) Repeat around..
Knit 6 rounds even. Bind off.

Loops for straps: (Make 2)

Cast on 20 stitches leaving about a 4” tail.. Bind off all stitches. Cut yarn leaving a long tail to sew loop to bag. Fold piece in half fornimg loop. Overcast ends together.. Sew loop to back corner of base. Sew securely going through all thicknesses to inside of bag. When loop is secure put tail ends through to inside of bag and tie in a knot. Weave in ends and trim. Repeat for other loop.

Strap: Preferred method is 6 stitch I cord.

On one double pointed needle cast on 6 stitches. Do not turn. Slide the stitches to the end of the left hand needle, pull yarn across back of work and knit stitches. Again, slide stitches to the end of needle, pull yarn across back of piece and knit stitches Keep knitting in this way until the strap measures 38 inches or desired length. Tug at the strap now and then as you work to align stitches. Bind off.

Alternative method: Cast on 6 stitches. Knit back and forth in garter stitch until strap measures 38 inches or desired length.. Bind off.


Cast on 21 stitches. Starting with a purl row, stockinet stitch ( Knit 1 row, Purl 1 row) for 4”. End with purl row.
Next row. Knit 10 stitches, yarn over. knit 2 together, knit 9 stitches. Stockinet 4 rows. Bind off.


Sew pocket to center of front about an inch up from last garter stitch ridge of base. Sew button under buttonhole.
Fold strap in half to determine center. See Fig 1 Pin to center back about three fourths of an inch down from eyelet row. Have straps pointing up toward top of bag. Whip stitch for about an inch down the outside edge of one strap, around the bottom fold and up the outside edge of the second strap for about an inch. Finish off your little triangle of stitching by back stitching across both straps (indicated by solid line). Finish off. Weave in all ends. Put strap end through loop at bottom. Adjust length to fit child and tie in knot. Repeat for other strap. With crochet hook make a chain about 36” long. Starting in center front, weave through eyelets. Pull up to close backpack and tie in bow.

Fig 1

Copyright 2005 Yvonne Boucher

This pattern is for your personal use only. It may not be reproduced for sale, to conduct classes or to make backpacks for sale.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WWII Entertaining our Service Men

San Diego has two major military bases, the Marine Training Center and the Naval Base. During WWII the town was inundated with young men from all over the country who had been drafted and were in training. Many of these young men, boys really, were very young, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen. They were too young to go into bars or night clubs while on leave, and while San Diego has many attractions suitable for young people, these young men had very limited funds. The Y wanted to give these boys some place to go and participate in an activity they would enjoy. They decided to hold regular dances at the Y, free for all that attended.

The volunteers at the Y set aside a large room. A sound system was set up on a stage at one end. Girls were recruited from local high schools to act as hostesses. Lady volunteers acted as DJs, and chaperons.

A friend of mine and I were among those attending the first dance. We rode the street car downtown to the Y and entered in all our teenage splendor, pleated skirts, blouses, bobby socks and saddle shoes. We were definitely cool. The girls all stayed at the end of the room with the stage, standing and talking or sitting in the folding chairs against the wall. The boys congregated at the other end of the room. When the acting DJ put on the first record, and yes, they were vinyl 78s, the young men came across the room and asked a girl to dance. With the sounds of one of the big bands bouncing off the walls, we jitterbugged with boys from every state in the union. As there was only one song on each side of a record, there was a pause between numbers as the DJ changed records. These pauses gave time for your partner to return you to your place with the other girls. The next record meant you danced with a different partner. This was one of the rules, no pairing off.

Another rule, you could not leave the dance area with a young man. In addition to the DJ there were other ladies present who acted as chaperons, and believe me, these ladies took their responsibility very seriously. They were particularly vigilant during slow dances. They really had little to do. There wasn't a girl in the room whose mother had not told her time and again that a lady always maintained space between her body and that of her partner. We learned how to sit without showing any thigh by emulating the women that raised us, and no mother would have let her daughter leave the house inappropriately dressed. Then too, the young men were shy and lacked confidence. Just being off the base and talking to a girl was enough.

Similar activities were going on in any city with a large military presence. Churches held socials in the church basement, families invited a soldier home to have dinner with them. Because of these and other such activities many boys made friendships that went beyond the war years, writing letters and sending pictures to their adopted family.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summer Knitting and Christmas Gifts

It is hot, muggy and the air is full of smoke from the fires here in Southern California. Seemed like a good time to stay inside and catch up on my Christmas gift making. The tree skirt on which I am working has gotten big enough to fill your lap with yarn as you add another row so that did not seem a good choice. I had planned to make a visored cap for a thirteen year old great-granddaughter and now seemed the time. I looked through all my favorite knit pattern sites, but I couldn't find anything that was just what I wanted. On to the crochet sites, and the first pattern at which I looked was exactly right. It is the City Girl Cap designed by Celeste Young and the pattern is available free here

I was a bit hesitant at first as there is no finished size given and no gauge. However, I found when the cap was finished the stretchy ribs that divide it into sections give enough leeway that it should fit most adult women. It was fun to make, took only one day and one skein of yarn, so quick, easy and inexpensive. Here is the picture of my finished caps.

My husband saw it and remarked I had better make several because a number of family members are going to want one, so I am now about to finish the second one. What? More than one of the same thing? What can I say. I really like this pattern.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Childhood .

Childhood was very different when I was a child. Nowadays children are kept close to home, sports are organized and everything is supervised by an adult. I can understand this. Children are not safe in today's world. When I was a child, however, we did not have TV, computers or video games. We went OUTSIDE. Outside is where your friends were, where you could run and make noise and have fun. You rode your bike, you roller skated, you played games in the street. These games were not overseen by adults. Here is where you learned lessons from your peers that lasted a lifetime. You learned the art of mediation. You learned how to compromise. You learned to play fair. You learned that whiners and cry babies didn't get picked for the teams.

Outside activities were divided by gender. Girls skated, jumped rope, played with dolls and played jacks. Boys played cowboys and Indians, baseball and football. A girl could sometimes play baseball if a team was short a man, she was good and didn't cry if she got hurt.

There were also unisex activities. Boys and girls rode bikes, played tag and kick the can.

As kids we would disappear for hours. Our parents were not concerned. They knew we would show up when hungry. We had the usual admonitions, "Don't get in a car with a stranger, and don't take candy from strangers." Of course, we didn't know why, but we accepted that was the rule.

Talking about rules, there was this unspoken rule that you should never do anything to bring shame to the family. If you got into trouble in school you better hope no one at home heard about it because you would get into twice as much trouble. There was no point in trying to plead your case either. If an adult reported your infraction of the rules it was automatically assumed you did it and were probably lying about it. Oh, and you were expected to mind every adult whether you knew them or not. I was walking home from school one day when I spotted a piece of broken plaster on the sidewalk. I picked it up and was just about to write my name on the blank wall of the building in front of me when I heard a voice ask me what I was doing. I turned and there was a gentlemen I had never seen before. He began going on about vandalism, giving me a good scolding for an act I hadn't even committed. I was caught red handed and took my scolding. Because of this experience I will go to my grave never having defaced a building, rock or any other surface.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grocery Shopping circa 1930

I was shopping the other day, and it came to me how different the experience was from when I was a child. Now we certainly have more from which to choose, and what we have may be, in some cases, safer and better quality. However, a great deal was lost when we went from the local grocery store to the big chain supermarkets.

When I went shopping with my grandmother the store owner was behind the counter. On the counter was the cash register and on the wall behind it was a tier of cubbyholes. In each hole was a sales book. You were greeted with, "Good morning, Mrs. Smith. What can I do for you today?" You did not get your own groceries. If you were just picking up one or two items you told the shop owner what you wanted. If you were picking up a number of things you might hand him your list. He went around and took the requested items from the shelves and put them on the counter. He measured and weighed the items that were not all ready packaged, packaged them and put them on the counter. While he was doing this you were wandering through the store looking at sale items or new things that might have come in. If you spotted something you wanted, when you returned to the counter you told him, and he went and got it.

When you were through shopping the grocer reached behind and took your book from it's cubbyhole. Your name was written across one end of the book, but the same books had been in the same cubbyholes for years. He could have found yours blindfolded. In it he wrote your purchases and total due. Once a month the man of the house came in and "settled up", paying the bill in full. My grandmother always had enough money with her to pay the bill when she got the groceries, but that wasn't done. It was a man's obligation to take care of the family finances. It was a system based on trust. The grocer did not have you sign anything before establishing an account, and you never checked his figures. You trusted he had entered the correct amount, and he trusted you to pay it.

If you lived too far out to walk into the store you could phone your order in, and it would be delivered by a local boy on a bicycle. My husband delivered groceries for his local store as well as filled orders and did whatever odd jobs came up. He made the magnificent sum of $5.00 a week working eight hours a day, six days a week all through his summer vacation from school. Allowances were unheard of. Children were expected to work for their spending money.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Knitting Tip

I thought this was going to be a knitting blog, but it seems I have spent more time writing about the Depression so here is a bit of knitting stuff.

I make a lot of socks. and for years I picked up the stitches along the heel flap as directed then picked up the strand of yarn that ran between the first and second needles, knit into the back of it to twist it and avoid a hole. I did the same on the other side between the second and third needle. Sometimes it worked, but usually I still had a hole on one side or the other. I found, however, by picking up the stitch in the row below the first stitch on the second needle and knitting into the back of that, then repeating on the other side I never have a hole. This leaves you with one more stitch on the needle than the pattern calls for. If you are supposed to have 14 heel flap stitches, you now have 15. Knit one more row to set up for the gusset decreases. Knit the heel stitches, then knit in the back of the picked up heel flap stitches until you come to the last two stitches. Do not knit into the back of these stitches. Just knit the two off together as one stitch. Knit across the stitches on the second needle. Knit the first two stitches on the third needle together then knit into the back of the remaining heel flap stitches, then knit the remaining heel stitches. Now you are set up to start the gusset decreases.

Another thing that I find sock knitters question is how long to make the heel flap. Knit as many rows as you have stitches. If you have twenty four stitches on the needle for the heel flap, knit twenty four rows. This will give you enough depth that your heel will settle nicely into the sock heel and not pull down in the back.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Saga Continues

My mother finally had to give up. She burned her leg badly and could barely hobble around. She called my grandfather, and he and my grandmother drove from San Diego to Oakland to pick us up. We put our few belongings in the car and moved in with my grandparents. We first went shopping and were outfitted with everything the well dressed child needs including two pair of shoes, one for dress and one for every day. Then we started school. Because I knew how to read I was quickly advanced to the grade in which I belonged, despite the fact I had never been to school. Every meal the table was covered with a white tablecloth, serving dishes, silver flatware and food. Things like roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, two veggies and dessert were the norm. It was all overwhelming to a child who just a few days before made a meal off of creamed carrots over a slice of bread. And then there was Christmas.

The first Christmas I remember having was that first year at my grandparents. There was no money for Christmas before then, no tree, no presents and no special dinner. Well, this Christmas my sister and I saw the tree going up. That was an eye opener. Then we started hearing from our friends about the gifts. Hard to believe, but we had hope. Then Christmas morning we woke up, and there under the tree were the presents. I will never forget. I got a bright red bicycle, skates, a child size roll top desk, a doll, books and clothes. I didn't know where to start. It was too early and too cold to ride my new bike, but my grandmother said I could roller skate on the kitchen linoleum. Of course, I didn't know how and had to hang on to everything in the room, but what joy. All this splendor was followed by the most memorable dinner I have ever eaten.

When one studies the depression one sees pictures of soup kitchens, ragged and hungry children, the desperately poor. Anyone might get the impression that the entire country was suffering and out of work. Such was not the case. The farmers were hit the hardest, and many others lost their jobs as well. However, there were many people who were working. There were government work programs. There were huge construction programs like Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. Many people just kept the job they had always had, went to work every day and thanked God for their good fortune.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Stories of the Great Depression

I had decided to just post on Saturdays, but am getting comments asking for more "Memories". So here is one about how I learned to read.

As I said, we traveled around and lived in the car for part of the depression. As a consequence I did not go to school. However, the roads were lined with reading material, Billboards. I would ask, "What does that say?, and my mother would tell me. Before long I could read the ads myself. From there I moved up to Burma Shave signs. Burma Shave was a man's shaving cream. They started an ad campaign that used little signs along the road. Each sign had only two or three words on it, and as you were only driving around thirty miles an hour, reading them was no problem. The signs were right next to the road, and you read each when you came to it, another a few yards away and so on, and when done you had a jingle that hopefully made you remember to buy Burma Shave. Here is an example:

When I finally started school at age seven I was put in the first grade. Two weeks later I was moved to the second with those of my own age. thanks to the jingle writers at Burma Shave.

I had the thought after writing this that those signs were not pulled up, tagged or vandalized in any way although they were in easy reach of those who might have done such a thing. How different from today.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Child of the Great Depression

My mother was married in 1929 and I was born a year later. Not good timing. By the time I was five my parents were traveling around the country with two kids in tow, my sister and myself. I don't think we were headed anywhere. We lived in our car, and city cops did not like transients to take root so we kept moving. My mother bathed us in service station bathrooms, using their soap and hot water. She also would rinse out a few things in the basin while there. She had the door locked, and we were in there some time, however no one ever banged on the door or chased us out. Attitudes were different then. Now you would be a bum, but then there were so many in the same boat, most people were tolerant.

Once my father was out of the picture my mother went on relief, called that for obvious reasons, and we moved into an apartment in a run down tenement filled with fellow depression casualties. Surplus food was made available to those on relief. In our area you went to a big, green warehouse and stood in line. As you moved past a table you were given staple items such as coffee, canned milk, flour, p-nut butter, cheese etc. You were also given whatever surplus there was of subsidized food. You might get a whole bag of grapefruit or oranges, things of that kind. One thing I remember clearly, you always got margerine. Margerine was a new product and was packaged as a white block that looked like lard. A capsule of orange/yellow food dye came with it. You dumped the margerine in a bowl, broke the capsule and poured the contents over it and then used a fork to mix it. That was my job, and I can tell you you had to mix until your arm about fell off. Then there was a major improvement. The margerine started coming in a plastic bag. The capsule was in there too. You squeezed the capsule until it broke then kneaded the bag to mix it all together.

I don't know about every state, but in California a major effort was made to insure children were getting enough to eat and medical treatment. This was done through the schools. There were not ony lunch programs for those who could not afford lunch, but breakfast programs as well. We were often asked questions that now a days would be considered an invasion of privacy, but at the time were accepted as the norm. "What did you have for breakfast?" "How many baths do you take a week?" These two I remember as they got me in hot water. When asked how many baths I took I said one. When I told my mother she asked, "Didn't you tell them you took a shower every night?" "No, they only asked how many baths." When asked about breakfast I said I drank coffee. My mother put a tablespoon or two of her sweetened coffee in my glass of milk as I liked to pretend. That one resulted in a call from school.

We had free eye exams and free glasses if needed as well as physicals, and you got vaccinated at the health department for no cost.

As a child I didn't give it much thought at the time. I can only guess now at how scared the grownups were.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Felted Purse

I made a bunch of these one year as Christmas gifts. The pattern I came up with is simple and can be embellished in any way you wish. I have included directions on how to felt. Everyone has their own little secrets, but this is the way I do it.

Materials: 2 balls Paton’s Classic Wool Any 100% wool yarn will do. Do not use a superwash wool as it will not felt. Colors matter. Light colors, white, aran, natural do not felt as well as darker colors.

16” circular needle size 10 ½
2 double pointed needles size 10 ½

4 markers, 3 of one color and 1 of a different color.

Purse: With two strands of yarn held together, cast on 34 stitches. Knit back and forth in garter stitch for 34 rows. Break and finish off one strand of yarn. Now with remaining strand of yarn continue by picking up 16 stitches down short side of piece. Place one of the 3 same color markers on needle. Pick up and knit 34 stitches along long side of piece. Place another of the same color markers on needle. Pick up and knit 16 stitches along remaining short side of piece and place last of the same color markers on needle. Knit across remaining 34 stitches. Place remaining marker. This marker marks not only the corner but the row. From now on you will be knitting in the round. Knit 56 rows.
Next round: *Knit 3, bind off 3, knit 4 (includes stitch on needle after bind off), bind off 3, knit 3 ( includes stitch on needle after bind off) Slip marker.*
**Knit 7, bind off 3, knit to last 10 stitches before marker, bind off 3, knit 7 (includes stitch on needle after bind off). Slip marker.**
Repeat * to * for next short side.
Repeat from ** to ** for remaining long side.
Next round: Knit around casting on 3 stitches over every 3 stitch bind off of previous row. Leave the row marker on your needle, but remove the other markers as you go. Knit for 8 more rows. Bind off. Weave in ends on wrong side of work.
Handles: Make 2. Handles are made in 5 stitch I cord. Cast 5 stitches on one of the double pointed needle Do not turn. Push stitches down to working end of needle. Pull yarn across back of work and knit. Continue in this way, pushing the stitches down to a working position at the end of the needle and pulling the yarn across the back of work. Never turn work but always have the right side facing you. Make each I cord 36” long. Bind off.

Felting: Put your finished pieces in a pillow slip or net bag. Note: This is highly recommended as it will keep your I cord from tying itself in knots as well as keep lint from clogging your filter. Set washing machine for the smallest load, hot water wash and cold water rinse. Add a bit of detergent. Put the bag in the machine and run through a complete cycle. Some recommend putting towels, jeans or some other heavy items in with piece to be felted. The friction of items rubbing together during the process is suppose to facilitate felting. I have never found this necessary. At the end of the cycle check the purse. If properly felted the fabric should be thick and firm. You should not be able to see the individual knit stitches on the sides of bag. (The ridges of the garter stitch bottom will still be visible.) If purse does not meet those standards return to machine and run through another cycle. This time, however, check the progress every five minutes. When the purse meets your criteria, advance the machine timer to rinse and complete the wash cycle. Remove purse. Begin to shape with your hands. Pull and stretch the wool until you are satisfied with the proportions. (Note: It is not possible to give definitive measurements as felting is not a precise process.) Hold the ends of the I cord and pull, stretching them to be sure they are the same length. Place pieces on a towel away from direct sunlight. Allow pieces to dry thoroughly.

Finishing: Thread I cord through eyelets. Tie ends on each side in overhand knot. If necessary, adjust knots to insure handles are even. If you have used a yarn that got very fuzzy during the felting process you can trim the fuzzy ends if you wish.
Decorating: You can leave your purse as is or decorate with applique, flowers, or whatever strikes your fancy. You can use one of the many striped or print wool yarns that will make a pattern as you knit.

Copyright 2006 Yvonne Boucher

This pattern is for your personal use only. It may not be reproduced for sale or to conduct classes. It may not be used to make purses for sale.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

WWII Home Front

During WWII those of us at home had our trials, minor though they were. Gas was rationed during the war. Sugar was also rationed, but you could get more if you were canning. Tires were a big problem as rubber was needed for the tires of military vehicles. A bald tire with an inner tube patched over and over was a badge of honor. Meat was not always available. However, if you were a regular customer at your local market, when the butcher got a delivery of something good he would put back something. When you came in he took you to one side and let you know he had a nice roast or chops for you. Other things were rationed as well, and every family had a ration book.

Not only were women knitting for the war effort as I touched on in another post, but everyone was encouraged to have a "Victory Garden." The idea was it would enable you to feed your family well without taking from the enormous supply of goods needed by our troops. Everyone was encouraged to buy War Bonds. At our school we could buy saving stamps. they cost a quarter and you glued them in a book, and when the book was full you could turn it in for a $25.00 War Bond. There were scrap drives when everyone turned in things that could be recycled and used for the war effort. The tin foil that lined the inside of a pack of cigarettes was on the list, and I remember empty toothpaste tubes were also. I haven't a clue why.

Since then we as a nation have grown up. We've lost our innocence, but at the time we were filled with the fervor of the righteous and full of idealism, and pride, worked towards a common goal, the end of the war.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Dreaded Swatch

We've found the perfect yarn, the needles are ready, and all we want to do is start on that pattern we love so much. Lurking in the back of our minds,however, is that nagging thought, "To swatch or not to swatch." We know we should, but it takes so long and is tedious. We decide to be good and make that swatch. Doesn't come to gauge. We try again, casting on and knitting with a smaller needle. Still not gauge. There is an easier way.

Start with a needle one or two sizes smaller than the needle called for. Cast on the required number of stitches. On the second row use YO, K 2 tog to make a number of holes equal to the size needle you are currently using. That is if you are knitting with a size 4, you will have 4 holes. Knit the required number of inches. Change to the next size needle and repeat. Don't forget the holes. Go on in this way until you are using a needle one or two sizes bigger than those called for. Bind off. Lay your swatch down to relax overnight. You may even wish to wash it. Then start measuring. You have all your information right there. Number of stitches, number of rows and needle size.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Knitting for the Troops

Despite what one may think about the war, I am sure we all want to support our young men and women in the service. There are several organizations sending donated items to our soldiers overseas. I am currently knitting helmet liners for Packages from Home. The liners are sent to Afghanistan where the winters are very cold. If knitting wool helmet liners is not your thing there are many other suggestions on their website including purchased items for which the soldiers have asked. It seems in the rural villages and mountains of Afghanistan there is no place to buy the most basic items such as soap. I like Packages from Home, but there are many such groups from which to choose if you wish to help. You will find their link at the left under Charity Links.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sophie's Cozies

Danni Holland is a member of Ravelry and has a four year old daughter, Sophie. Sophie became aware of sick children in the hospital and wanted to do something to help. She and her mom decided to make and donate small blankets the children could cuddle and hang on to when the hospital got scary. Danni posted the information on a Ravelry forum and asked if others wished to help. The response has been tremendous. Now Sophie has a website for all those who are not Ravelry members but wish to contribute a bit of their time to make a blanket for Sohie's Cozies. The link to the website is on the left of this page under Charity Links. Take a look.

Peanut Men

Before TV, electronic gadgets, computers and video games, kids made up their own games and with the help of an adult who could come up with string, bits of wood or whatever was needed, often made their own toys.

My grandfather was the CEO of a coffee company. The company had a fleet of delivery trucks that came into the plant through a big door that opened on to the street. Just inside that door was a large metal trash can full of roasted peanuts in the shell. Everyone that came into the plant helped themselves to peanuts. Even casual passers by on the street would step inside and get a handful of peanuts. Every now and then my grandfather would fill a brown paper bag with these peanuts and bring them home. Of course, if there were peanuts in the house there had to be peanut men. He made peanut men by pushing a small wire through the shells of the peanuts, stringing them together like stick men. .Because they were strung on wire, the peanut men could be posed in different positions. They were also almost indestructible. As circus acrobats they could fly through the air and take long falls to the floor without breaking. As super heroes they could fight the bad guys without getting hurt. They could even float, at least for a little while. Eventually, however, a peanut man would get a long break in one of his shells. Well, when that happened there was just one thing to do, smash him and eat the peanuts.

My grandfather also made walnut boats for us. He would take half a walnut shell and put a drop of wax from a candle in the bottom of the shell. While the wax was still soft he stuck the end of a used matchstick into it. That made the mast for a sail. The sail was cut out of paper and glued to the mast. In the bathtub blowing gently on the sail would make the walnut boat sail across the tub.

After it rained the gutter in front of our house would have a torrent of water running rapidly down the street to the storm drain. That is when walnut boats were the most fun. You were supposed to start your boat at the top of the gutter. It would race down the street, bobbing and twirling in the rapidly moving water. Of course, you had to run along side and catch it before it went down the drain, and you lost your boat. When you pulled your boat from the water you took it back to the starting point and let it race down again and again and again. Eventually the boat was lost or was filled with water and sank or you were so wet your mother made you come inside to get dry and warm.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Knitting Tips

Too hot to knit wool helmet liners. How about a knitting tip or two I learned the hard way.
Problem:A couple of years ago you knit a lovely sweater which has now been snagged and has a hole. You haven't a clue where to get matching yarn to fix it.
Tip: When you make a sweater wind off a long length of the yarn and weave it into a side seam. If needed it will be the same age as the sweater and match perfectly.
Problem:You have had to rip out several rows and now must put the stitches back on a needle. However, each stitch you pick up causes the stitches next to it to get tighter until you begin to have dropped stitches.
Tip:Use a smaller size needle to pick up the stitches. If you knit them with a 6, pick them up with a 4. Go back to a 6 when you begin knitting again.
Problem:You have had to join yarn in the middler of a piece. Without a seam to hide the ends, what do you do?
Tip:Thread a darning needle with an end and work it through the stitches on the wrong side. Split each stitch as you go through it. Go up from the join about 2 inches then turn and go down for about 1 and 1/2 inch making a "fishhook". Do the same with the other end but work in the opposite direction from the first. This cannot be seen from the right side and will not come loose.
Problem:We all hate to swatch. We all also tend to use a lot of the same yarns over and over. We are alway going to remember the gauge but seldom do.
Tip: Keep a notebook. List the yarns you use most often, needle size, gauge and any other pertinent information. As for those swatches, start an afghan.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Learning to Knit

I was knitting a helmet liner for our troops in Afghanistan when it struck me my life as a knitter had come full circle. During WWII there was a drive by the Red Cross to get volunteers to knit for our troops. Even before our entry into the war we were asked to knit for the refugees in Europe. I was in grammar school but even at that tender age it was thought we could all contribute. One day a Red Cross lady came to our class and told us about the plight of refugees. We were asked to bring a skein of yarn and needles, I don't remember what size, to class where we would be taught to knit. On the appointed day there were several ladies there to help as the secrets of knitting a garter stitch square were explained. The Red Cross ladies would sew them together to make blankets. We learned to cast on and then were told to cast on so many stitches and knit so many rows and bind off. It was hard work, especially for the poor ladies who spent their time picking up dropped stitches, giving hands on instruction and soothing ruffled feelings. After several knitting sessions we each completed several squares, and the Red Cross ladies took them, thanking us for our contribution to the war effort Years later I realized there had never been any mention of gauge, and I thought of the hours of effort and the frustration of all those ladies trying to sew those mismatched squares together. I bet more than one muttered a few words inappropriate for use by Red Cross ladies.