Knitting a Lavender Christmas Stocking

I’ve knitted dozens of Christmas stockings over the past 37 years since my grandmother turned the duty over to me.  Most of them have featured traditional Christmas figures, such as Santa Claus, snowmen, and gingerbread men, on a red or green background.  I’ve even made a few on blue backgrounds.  Until now, however, I have never knitted a lavender Christmas stocking.

The occasion for this non-traditional stocking is the impending birth of our first granddaughter.  Two years ago, I made a pair of stocking for our son Matt and his wife Kristin for their first Christmas as a married couple.  They both chose a puppy pattern and, rather than having identical stockings, ask me to adapt the colors to look like their two dogs, Jasper and Allie.  With the expected arrival of their first child, a daughter to be named Brooklyn Elise, they wanted me to knit another puppy stocking.  The puppy on Brooklyn’s stocking has dark gray ears and a tan face on a lavender background.

It is coming along nicely, except that Brooklyn is a rather long name to fit on one side of the stocking.  I didn’t consider that when I stitched the name on it.  As it currently is, “KLYN” would show when the stocking is hanging.  Fortunately, I didn’t knit the name into the stocking but embroidered it on in duplicate stitch, so I can easily removed the stitched and rework it with “BROOK” on the front and “LYN” on the back.  My alternative plan is to try to free -hand the name using a back stitch.  I’m going to let the partents-to-be make that decision.

Last Christmas, I knit a stocking for our first grandson, Daniel.  It was a wonderful delight to carry on the family tradition begun by my grandmother and make a stocking for the first member of our family’s next generation. Daniel is too young to understand the family tradition yet, but I believe he will also treasure his special Christmas stocking.  Brooklyn is due January 7th, so unless she makes an early entry into the world, she will not be here to celebrate Christmas with us this year.  We will hang her stocking, however, and thank God for this precious new life and the wonderful blessings He bestows on our family.

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Ball household.  A University of Florida Christmas wreath is hanging on the front door (love the Gators!), the tree is decorated, and the stockings are hanging on the mantle. 

I knitted stockings for Steve and me on our first Christmas after we were married–way back in 1981.  The next one was made when Chris was born in 1985, and the twins’ stockings were added in 1987.  For more than 20 years, there were five stockings on our mantle.

In the past few years, our mantle has become more crowded.  The boys are grown and starting families of their own.  We’ve added two daughters-in-law the past two years, and this year brought the joy of our first grandchild.  What a pleasure it has been for me to celebrate these precious new members of our family by knitting stockings for them.  I am looking forward to knitting more stockings to hang on the mantle in the coming years as our family continues to grow.

Hand-knitted Christmas Stockings: A Family Tradition

According to legend, the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings was started in the days of St. Nicholas. The good bishop, wishing to help a poor father by providing a dowry for his three daughters, tossed three bags of gold coins down the family’s chimney. The bags landed in the stockings the girls had hung by the fireplace to dry.  The next morning, the girls found the gold and, thus, were able to marry.  The tradition continues nearly 1667 years after the death of St. Nicholas.

When my older sister, Sharon, was born, my mother’s mother started a family tradition of hand knitting Christmas stockings for each of her grandchildren.  My grandmother loved to knit, and I loved to watch her hands fly as she knit booties, blankets, scarves, hats, and, of course, Christmas stockings.  She helped me to knit a pair of booties when I was seven.  I was very proud of those pink booties made with variegated wool yarn.  I wore them until my feet outgrew them.  I didn’t knit anything else until I was about eleven.  That summer my grandmother re-taught me to knit and I made a scarf.  I soon learned to knit by the feel of the yarn and sometimes continued to knit in the dark after my parents had made me turn out the light.

By the time the eighth grandchild was born, I was a proficient knitter.  My grandmother decided it was time to pass the family tradition down to me.  She gave me her patterns and taught me how to change colors without leaving holes in the stocking.  She helped me to stitch Jimmy’s name across the top. Two years later, I made my second stocking for my youngest sibling.

When I got married, I left my stocking at my parents to be hung each year on their mantle.  Thirty years later, their mantle is crowded with the stockings of their nine children and many of their grandchildren.  I knit a pair of stockings for my husband and me for our first Christmas.  Later, we added stockings for our three sons. Over the years, I have hand knit dozens more stockings for siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews, cousins, and assorted other relatives and friends. 

A few years ago, one of my sisters commented that our mother was the only family member who did not have a knitted stocking.  Mom had a felt stocking she had been hanging up since she married.  Dad had started out with a matching felt stocking also.  However, my grandmother knit him one and sent it to him in 1968—the year he was stationed in Viet Nam and could not be home for Christmas.  I don’t know why she never made one for her daughter, and I don’t know why it took so many years for me to realize that I should make one for her.  I rectified that immediately and made one for my mother-in-law the same year.

As our sons have married, we have added stockings for their wives to our mantle, and I have made a pair for each new couple for their own homes. This year, the tradition continues onto a new generation.  I will knit a stocking for my first grandchild and proudly hang it from our mantle.  What a delight it has been for me to knit stockings for four generations of our family over the past 36 years.  It is a tradition I hope will continue for many generations through my nieces and, perhaps, one day through a granddaughter, if God so blessses.

December 23, 2010  The latest stocking is done, and my family’s stockings are hanging on the mantle.  If you would like to see them, I’ve posted a picture on my post “All the Stockings were Hung by the Chimney with Care.”

Merry Christmas!