Saturday, December 14, 2013

Knitted GIfts

This time of the year I am in the final rush for Christmas presents.  I have in the past stressed out about not getting my gift knitting done by December 25th.  This year I said, no to that headache and scaled back my expectations on handmade gift giving.  However, with the weather getting colder and the holiday season upon us I have found myself thinking about knitted items from my own childhood.

Like most kids I preferred toys to clothes, but occasionally something special would slip through.  When I was 5 or 6 my grandma gave me a stocking cap and scarf set that I loved and wore every winter with pride.  That does sound charming, but I am sad to say there is a smudge on this memory.  Though this is not a good excuse, the time was the early 70s and one of my favorite restaurants then was Sambo's.  Sambo's was the Denny's of my youth.  I loved their hot cocoa and hash browns.  My grandma knew my feelings about Sambo's and bought me a neon orange and black hat and scarf set emblazoned with the restaurant's logo.  I am not going to lie to you the hat even sported a black pompom on the top.  I LOVED them both and wore them all winter long.

After a couple of years the set was looking more than a little shabby.  The hat was especially sad with a spout of black yarn in tribute to the now missing pompom.  I didn't care I just loved the bright color offset with the intense black logo and scarf even had stripes.  I felt like a tigress once I had the scarf wrapped around my neck. 

My mom kept a laundry basket at the bottom of the coat closet to catch all the miscellaneous winter accessories.  When I wasn't wearing my Sambo's hat and scarf they hung out in the basket.  One day they weren't there.  I checked the bottom of the basket, I pulled the basket out of the closet and checked the floor.  I stomped around in a snit because I how could something that bright hide from me?  My mom gave me a different hat and scarf, but the colors weren't as bright and I didn't feel like a tiger anymore.

The missing accessories left me with questions.  Where did they go?  And Why did the stripes on the scarf have a wonky jog to it as it went around to the other side?  And how come there were no more Sambo's?   As an adult I can answers all of those questions.  Sambo's aside from being poorly name made some bad marketing choices.  I think, rightfully, people were offended by the lack of sensitivity of the company to use pejorative racial images in the restaurant.  Sambo's removed the offending images, but the damage was done.  I do think there still one Sambo's left in California.  As to my accessories, my mom had let me wear the set because I loved it so much, but over time she knew the garments would have to go.  One night after I had went to bed she dug them out, optimistically hoping I wouldn't notice the theft.  Finally, now that I knit, I know the answer to why the stripes looked weird on the side. Trust me there is a good answer, but it might bore a non-knitter.  Mysteries solved all, but one.  What the hell the was I thinking loving that neon orange so much? 

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