What's Her Secret?: Sun City great-grandmother knits for her family

abredeson@islandpacket.comJune 25, 2012 

Helen Osborne, of Sun City Hilton Head, sits in her living room June 21 while holding a sweater that she knitted for her newest great-granddaughter. Osborne has knitted blankets and clothes for her family for years.

DELAYNA EARLEY/THE ISLAND PACKET

  • Features writer Amy Bredeson writes about Lowcountry moms who have advice to share. Email her at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

Moms, in general, want the best for their children -- the healthiest food, the nicest clothing, a top-notch education, a happy home.

Some of us buy expensive gifts to show our love for our children. Others, such as Helen Osborne, spend hours upon hours making those gifts.

Name: Helen Osborne

Community: Sun City Hilton Head

Strength: Knitting for family members

As a young girl, Osborne loved watching her aunt knit. She was fascinated by her handiwork. And every winter she looked forward to receiving a new pair of mittens.

But it wasn't the high-quality mittens for which she was so thankful. It was the love she saw go into the making of those mittens.

Many years later, when Osborne was in college, her roommate taught her how to knit. And she's been knitting for family members ever since.

When she had her first child, in a time when disposable diapers did not yet exist, she made what she called "soakers" to put over the cloth diapers. And over the decades Osborne has made countless sweaters, blankets and stuffed animals for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Question. How did you make time to knit for your kids when they were little? Did you have to wait until they went to bed?

Answer. Not really. I carried my knitting around a lot. Wherever I went I carried my knitting. And when they were playing I would sit and knit. Of course, during the war we were all knitting for the servicemen. ... When Marsha, my daughter, was young, especially when she was a teenager, I would knit a lot of sweaters for her to match the skirts that she had. And she loved that. ... She had plenty of sweaters growing up.

Q. Why do you go to all the trouble to knit for your family members?

A. Because I love them.

Q. And how do they feel about the gifts you make for them?

A. I know they appreciate them. I know (my granddaughter) Courtney does. It was so funny when she had her (baby) shower ... I had knit her a blanket and a sweater with a hood on it to match. They asked her at the end of the shower ... which was her most favorite gift or the most interesting gift. She said, "I can tell you right now. It was the gift I got from my grandmother." And that made me feel so good.

Q. You said you taught your granddaughter how to knit. What does that mean to you?

A. She's a beautiful knitter now. I'm really proud of her. ... She has knit for her sorority sisters that have had babies. She's knit them each blankets. She does a good job.

Q. And why is it important to you that knitting be passed on through the generations?

A. It's so important that that craft is carried on. I'm just so afraid it will be lost. And I'm thankful it's in my family. I just wanted someone to carry on with it. ... I hope Courtney will pass it on to her two girls. She probably will.

Q. You seem to do a great job creating beautiful gifts for your family members. Is there anything you don't do so well?

A. My house could've been in better shape when the kids were little. It's just a never-ending job, isn't it? Wait until you get to where I am. Then you can do what you want to. If it gets done, it gets done. If not, it's OK.

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