My mother, the knitter

tootsie toasters knitting pattern

So it turns out my endlessly crafty mother was a knitter. For a period of my childhood she was knitting afghans, in particular — multi-colored scalloped rows of yarn. I have no idea how I managed to forget this.

The funny part is how it came up. I picked them up at the airport Christmas morning and brought them back to our loft, where my sister and her family were hanging out. Out of the blue, as we’re getting ready to tackle our little pile of presents, Mom says brightly to me, “I thought about finishing up that latch-hook Santa and wrapping it up for you for Christmas!” She did not yet know that I’ve added knitting to my repertoire, didn’t know this blog existed, and we have never spoken of that half-hooked Santa in all the intervening years. (It’s hilarious that she still has it. They have moved since then!) So I pulled out my iPhone and called up the post where I’d been talking about it, and we laughed, and I finally confessed I’m knitting and gave her the cowl I’d secretly made her.

Their first morning back home, my dad sent me an email with the scanned pattern above: Tootsie Toasters! Complete with my mom’s marginalia. I can’t make any sense of it. (Can you? Decipher for me in the comments if so!) But I’m dying to know what “AUNT LYDIA’S” HEAVY RUG YARN looked like.

(Update: Some of us are taking a swing at this mysterious pattern. See the comments for more.)

(Update Feb ’12: Meg has posted her revisions of this pattern as a free PDF on Ravelry. To see all the Tootsie Toaster-related posts, click here.)

– – –

Here’s Mom in her Christmas cowl. It’s Cirilia Rose‘s cozy Columbia Cowl done in Malabrigo Chunky, in the fabulous and impossible to photograph color called Tuareg; details on Ravelry.

Love you, Mom!

23 thoughts on “My mother, the knitter

  1. I imagine tootsie toasters are near cousins to foot blankets! Great picture of Colleen in her cowl.

  2. It appears Aunt Lydia’s is still around….give it a google.

    Was she knitting a larger size by casting on 39 stitches?

  3. Oh, I got it now.
    Pattern of 11 stitches. The k2 (sl1,k1) four times, sl1

    Looks like your mom adjusted for the larger size slipper she was knitting.

  4. But what does it make? I mean, I get that it’s something for your feet, obviously, but I can’t picture what it adds up to. Because it’s knit flat, and then you start ribbing … on one edge? And then … what?! I can’t parse it.

    Karla, isn’t that funny?

  5. Jo, upon closer inspection all of that Aunt Lydia’s Heavy Rug Yarn being hawked on the internets is vintage. I haven’t found a description yet that says anything about gauge, nor a photo of the label that includes that tidbit. I did, however, find this. Which we clearly need to procure. Also: I need to ask Colleen what she remembers about the Tootsie Toasters.

  6. I noticed the gauge was missing but think bulky would work since it listed using #10 needle.
    And after all they are TV slippers…so an afternoon of Law and Order reruns should do the trick!
    It would help if she can remember who she was knitting them for to have increased the size so much.
    Diving into my stash to see if there is anything I can use. For sure want something machine washable.

  7. Ravelry lists the Aunt Lydia’s as a bulky and most project were knit on a 10 or 10.5 needle.

    Hi Karla!

    • OK, bulky it is. And the pattern calls for 140 yards.

      I ordered that booklet, but I’m not sure it will every actually materialize. I’ll believe it when I see it. There are apparently tons of them out there — I might need to Collect Them All! — but that one specifies a slipper pattern, which I’m hoping will be our Tootsie Toasters. Also contains patterns for crocheted poodle covers for hairspray cans and toilet paper, a knitted curler carrier, and all sorts of earthly delights. Imagine the fun we can have if it does show up in my mailbox.

  8. Selected stash yarn, needles at the ready……do we wait for the book?
    Meg says she’s in for the KAL

    And dang it I just got rid of my age old curlers!

  9. Yay, Meg!

    I think we should forge ahead. But you guys are going to have to share step-by-step pics with me. I can mentally follow it up to “center section is X inches” but don’t I have a rectangle at that point? And if so, what does center section mean? (Not to mention, is the cast-on edge the width or length of the foot?) Then the rest of it is totally puzzling to me.

    Given the stitch count and dimensions, I’m wondering if the pattern is written for kids’ sizes and that’s why mom was upping the count so much.

  10. OK, I talked to the source and she told me how she remembers it, which was hugely helpful.

    Apparently the cast-on edge is the *width* of the object, starting at the heel. So you knit from the heel forward, and what you’re making is wider than your foot — wide enough to eventually wrap up over the two sides. Right? “The toe section” — the ribbing — begins under the ball of your foot. As you continue to work forward, it decreases (that part’s clear from the pattern) and eventually cinches together to begin cupping back around your toes. So what you stitch together is from there (the middle-top of your toes) back along the top of your foot. And then you also seam straight up the back.

    So I’m thinking the measurement you want for the first section is from the ball of your foot to slightly beyond your heel, so there’s room for it to come together behind your heel when it’s folded up and stitched.

    We’ll see how perfectly accurate that turns out to be, but it makes the whole thing MUCH clearer, at least for me!

  11. Oh! One critical detail I left out. She said they liked to put a pompom on the front of each one. Naturally.

    And the notes for the large size were indeed for men. Who may or may not have gotten a pompom …

    • Sounds good to me…
      Of course there is a pompom. How could there not be?
      See if Meg has her yarn and be ready to go on this this weekend.

  12. I should be finishing up another project tonight and will start on this tomorrow. (Then I need to find the stitch I dropped in your gloves, Jo, and get back to Karla’s Christmas shawl, which I hope to get to her before April Fool’s Day …)

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