My dad’s blog post
Thursday February 19th 2009, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

I talked to my Dad on the phone today. Remember when he said he had an idea for knitters?  He’d written it up and he wanted to know if I would let it be a blog post here.  I said sure, Dad–and then he made me absolutely promise not to touch it, not to edit a single word.

Ooookayyyy…  You know you’re in trouble when…  I promised.

Oh, and Dad? The last time I saw Grandmother Jeppson before she passed, I was admiring the afghans she’d made and wishing I had the patience someday to knit a project that big.

I think she’d be pleased.

Now, being the daughter, I think I’m nowhere quite near as famous as Dad thinks I am, nor that I deserve to be.  I also squirm when people describe my name as a verb the way he’s referring to.  There are many knitters more generous than I.  I don’t give things away to be on record; I do it for the selfish reason that it makes me feel wonderful, not to mention the person I’ve knit for.  I also tend to knit scarves or the like when I don’t know the person well: it’s a small enough project that if they’re not thrilled to the bone, it’s okay, it didn’t take me six months to do.  But the goodwill in the knitting is just the same, large project or small, and I certainly do a fair number of large projects to give as well.

All that said, I’ll sit down, be quiet, and let Dad have his say:

Knitters’ Idea

Five or six years ago while watching Alison knit something she intended to give away I suggested that she make a log of what she had knitted and to whom she had given it.  I thought it would make an interesting record. She moaned, saying she could not remember many of them. We finally concluded she probably had given away 200 of her wares. I would not be surprised if the total now came closer to 500. She may wish to correct these figures.
Whatever the number, Alison has become so internationally known for knitting things which she could give to special, and usually unsuspecting, people that her name has become a verb describing the act. “To Alison someone.” The harrowing attack of Crohn’s from which she is recovering has demonstrated how much she is admired and loved.
Knitting something and giving it to an unsuspecting person is an act of kindness that can have wonderful, extensive, and long-lasting repercussions. The practice deserves encouragement. I would like to suggest to followers of spindyeknit, and to others as the word is spread, a means of fostering this goodness.
I suggest the creating–either as merely an informal grouping, or later as a legal entity–of The Alison Hyde Knitters Gifts Foundation. It could work along three different lines or levels.
1. It would simply be a database. Knitters would be encouraged to Alison someone–and whenever possible send to the database a photo of the object, the story behind the gift, the name of knitter/giver, and something about the recipient (just described, not necessarily named). As this information accumulates in a fashion that anyone can access, the practice will spread. This will likely generate additional comradery among knitters.
2. Knitters (or others) who have surplus yarn can list it on the database as something they will give to any recipient who will promise to knit the yarn into something she/he will give away. Recipients might be expected to pay incoming postage and sign some sort of pledge form.
3.  In its ultimate possible development, yarn producers or importers who have a surplus product might donate it to the Foundation for distribution as in No. 2 above. At this level the Foundation probably would need to be legally established as a charitable entity so that major donors would be motivated by some tax benefit. Perhaps there is a knitter or a spouse who could handle this. Also, if the Foundation develops to this stage it probably will need to do a little fund raising to cover expenses.
I am not a knitter, although I have been the nation’s foremost expert on modern, handwoven French tapestries for many years. But my mother was a knitter, and maybe that gene passed to Alison. During World War II, the entire country was mobilized..  Every community had volunteer projects to help the war effort in some fashion. We lived in Carson City, Nevada, which, though the state capital, had only about 3,000 people. My parents had three sons, no daughters. My oldest brother, Robert, was the supply officer on the Petroff Bay, a pocket aircraft carrier which fought in every major pacific battle of the last two years of the war, including the brutal Battle of Leyte Gulf. My next brother, Richard, although he is in the history books as Morris, was in the Air Corps and used to write our parents not to worry about him because a few weeks after he got overseas the war would be over. No one believed that. Turned out Richard was the weapons officer
on the Enola Gay who armed the atom bomb and was the last person to touch it. I quit high school to volunteer in the Army Specialized Training Program and was training to become a combat engineer.
One of the volunteer projects in Carson City was a band of knitters under the Red Cross. I’ll let my mother tell of it, as she wrote afterwards in her life story.
“….the war years brought so much worry and heart aches to parents of sons. I was really resentful when (Lawrence’s) call came–he was 17. We already had sent our other two sons and he seemed too young to leave home. When we put him on the bus for Pasadena and it pulled away it was almost more than I could bear.
“Just before and during the war I was in turn knitting chairman and County Production Chairman of the Red Cross. We produced an unbelievable amount of hospital garments, sweaters, kits, etc., during this period. I spent an average of five hours a day, six days a week for over two years in this particular service–feeling that if I worked hard enough maybe the war would end sooner and my sons would come home.”
So I am very sympathetic to knitters and aware of the substantial good they can do.
—Lawrence Jeppson, Alison’s Dad.

34 Comments so far
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Wow – your family has quite a history, Alison – one of which you have every reason to be very proud. And your dad has come up with a very interesting idea…one which, bears considering for sure…hmmmmm. 🙂 And, how neat he’s so proud of you…he wouldn’t like more children, would he? 🙂
I look forward to seeing other’s thoughts and comments…and I’ll be thinking about it as well. I’m always touched by your kindness and generosity…reaching out even to those you’ve never met…there is so much need. One knitter can’t reach everyone but, it is truly amazing and touching how many you have touched…all by yourself. 🙂
Best wishes to you,

Comment by Abby 02.19.09 @ 6:43 pm

What a beautiful idea Alison and suddenly I see where your generous spirit comes from. It does feel really good to give someone something knit with my own two hands, and more so when they delight in it.

Comment by Michelle 02.19.09 @ 7:23 pm

This is very interesting to me. In our Prayer Shawl Ministry, we made the choice when we began not to keep a record of to whom we gifted shawls. The idea was that it was like tithing – the shawls just went out into the world with no attachment. However, five years later, I’m wondering if that was a smart thing to do. For one thing, we spend some time now trying to figure out if so-and-so already has a shawl. And as the Ministry has spread, it’s way less certain who has received a shawl and who hasn’t.

But, logistics aside, there’s another reason I’m beginning to wish that we had kept track. It’s the stories and the encouragement and hope that those stories bring. I think that the stories are important. They are a way that we connect and the knitting facilitates that.

And, hey, foremost authority on contemporary French tapestries? As a weaver, I’d like to know more about that, Alison’s Dad! How about a blog?

Comment by Linda W 02.19.09 @ 7:24 pm

What a great idea, Mr Jeppson.

What’s really wonderful is that the kind of thing you are talking about is already happening. There are many many (many!!) knitters who are already “knitting it forward”, so to speak…knitters who Alison their friends, neighbors, and even and especially people in other parts of the world they have never met.
Soldiers are being knitted for right now! Children are being knitted for right now! The elderly are being knitted for right now! It is an ongoing, loving, fascinating, giving, activity.

What I like about your idea is the fact that this “Alisoning” would be acknowledged in a more official way, and I like the documenting part of it…the stories…because I do love stories. Whenever a bunch of knitters get together, they tell their stories. They tell about the project, and why they are making it, and for whom.

It’s a huge project you are proposing, and a possible one.

Now I want to see what others have to say about it!

Comment by karin 02.19.09 @ 7:30 pm

It sounds like a wonderful idea. You have certainly set an excellent example for knitter’s to give lovingly of their craft. I look forward to other comments on your blog in response to your dad’s wonderful suggestion. His great love for you is very evident. You are very fortunate.

Comment by Joansie 02.19.09 @ 7:41 pm

Wow, what an incredible idea.

Comment by sonya 02.19.09 @ 7:45 pm

My, my! What an incredible idea! I’m not a knitter, but the knitting group here at our mobile home park knit little caps for newborns at El Camino Hospital.

On a different topic, Alison, you should know that Trader Joe’s is having a special on 100 calorie dark chocolate bars, five pack for $1.99. Are you allowed?

Ok, humor time.
~ Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn’t control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words: “Give me all your money or I’ll shoot”, the man shouted, “that’s not what I said!”
~ A man spoke frantically into the phone: “My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart.”  “Is this her first child?” the doctor asked “No!” the man shouted, “This is her husband!”

Comment by Don Meyer 02.19.09 @ 8:14 pm

Wow. Much food for thought. Love the history. My dad was a young man in WWII, too. He served in the Pacific as a SeaBee.

Comment by Ruth 02.19.09 @ 8:32 pm

Whoa. Your uncle was the last person to touch the bomb? Holy cow. I’m still digesting that one.

I like knitting just cuz. When the feeling, the need, comes to knit something special for someone else, I do. I wonder about the formality of it. Not that I don’t like the idea, of course. But I do think it’s already being done, just not recorded in a central place.

Comment by amy 02.19.09 @ 8:36 pm

Just had to say…Don’s jokes cracked my husband and me both up again today…thank you for the laughs. 🙂 I wonder how a collaboration would work – another book of your shawls, Alison with Don’s great stories and jokes – think that might work?
Best wishes,

Comment by Abby 02.19.09 @ 9:25 pm

Thoughtfulness, generosity and modesty does not grow in a vacuum. Thank you for sharing some of the origins of your beautiful spirit.

I think your father’s idea is wonderful, though I’m sorry it makes you uncomfortable to have your name used as a verb. I am sure you realize it is always done with love, respect and appreciation. When I knitted a scarf and a pair of wristwarmers for two women at the hospital where I had my biopsy taken in December, you were on my mind as much as the recipients. You have touched and inspired a great many people, and I think this foundation would be a fitting tribute to one as special as you.

Comment by AmyS 02.20.09 @ 12:33 am

Wonderful, wonderful idea!! I wholeheartedly support the idea of a foundation in Allison’s name. And a sincere thank you to your family for their service to our country. What a story! I lost an Uncle in WWII, my FIL was a torpedo man on subs in WWII, and my husband is a Vietnam Vet. And Allison’s gift of giving to others is as heartwarming a story as I have ever heard. Thank you!

Comment by Sue J. 02.20.09 @ 4:34 am

I’m in. So Alison what, do I do? I’m good at organizing things, computers – ehhhhhh – assistive technology yes, other software, no. You want me to be an East Coast rep? You know I can get the local shul set-up and going – I will just threaten to knit during service if they don’t pay attention 🙂

And the war stuff? My dad never ever would tell us what he did. Any of your relatives ever met a George Everett Junior Koontz? (Yes, the junior is in the right place there, his mother decided that she didn’t like either of the uncles she named him after and stuck the junior in. That’s what they called that poor man until the day he died.) All we know is that he was intelligence in France and the islands of Alaska.

Anyway. Mr. Jeppson – reporting for duty.

Comment by afton 02.20.09 @ 5:13 am

Hrm, I thought a bit about Linda W’s “The idea was that it was like tithing – the shawls just went out into the world with no attachment.” and “It’s the stories and the encouragement and hope that those stories bring. I think that the stories are important.”. It’s something that’s always bothered me with donations, especially when companies make them. They do it as much as an advertising expense as any sort of charitable contribution.

Maybe if the stories were stripped of the gifter’s identifying info before being posted/published/shared it would keep the focus on the spirit of giving rather than individual recognition. Especially with electronics submission the process could be largely automated. It still might be good to have a moderator or admin to do a quick approval before posting, or to review recently posted stories every few days and check for people trying to sneak signatures in there.

The donation database could still be maintained in such a way that it contained the name of those doing the Alisoning for yarn donation/tax/legal reasons, but the ID could be withheld from the shared stories. Don’t know if it would solve everything, but it might keep people from doing it for the personal recognition.

Regardless, it’s a lovely idea. <3

Comment by Amy 02.20.09 @ 5:47 am

Thank you, Mr. Jeppson, for helping us let Alison know how precious her gift (and gifts) is.

I didn’t know about the verb, but now that I do, it makes me realize that we are doing the same analogy with my grandmother. I suppose the proper translation for it in English would be to “make a Marie-Paule of oneself”.

I would gladly participate in such a database by sharing stories and pics of donated projects. In a way, it’s fortunate I have not been knitting for long (about 9 years): it is still doable to go back and track all the presents. hihihi

Keep taking great care of yourself, Alison! Still sending prayers of thanks that you are healing.

Comment by Suzanne 02.20.09 @ 6:08 am

I had a comment written out and it dint post (something about a website prigramming error?) However the short of it is…I like the idea of a database to show the who what where and whys of the gifts we give.

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 02.20.09 @ 6:25 am

It’s funny to read this since I just
finished wrapping and filling out a
card to leave a shawl on a co-workers
chair! She’s having a hard time and
I hope my small gift will make her
smile when she opens it Monday morning.
I’m actually “Allison-ing” something!

Comment by Sue H 02.20.09 @ 7:14 am

I have been using Alison as a verb ever since I started reading your posts and your blog and your book! As I have said before, your spirit is an inspiration and the legacy that you and your family are giving to our world makes it a much better place! We need more stories on our news programs like yours! Thanks for making my life a richer one!

Comment by Nancy 02.20.09 @ 7:14 am

I love it. Having had glimpses into both of your parents’ lives/minds/hearts lately, no wonder you’re so kind and good!

Comment by Channon 02.20.09 @ 8:07 am

I love this idea, your blog, your parents and the gifts you have all given to the world. I too create with my hands, and often give away what I make. It makes me happy to gift somone, I guess ‘Alison’ someone without their knowing it was coming, especially when I feel inspired to do so.

Count me in. I love the ideas of stories because as your dad said, it inspires others to do the same!

Comment by Dariece 02.20.09 @ 8:29 am

Wonderful idea! I love the family history. The love & generosity of the knitting/crocheting community is an awe inspiring thing. I feel I am a better person for being a part of it! I must say thanks to my dear great aunt who taught me to crochet when I was young & planted the seed.

Comment by TripletMom 02.20.09 @ 8:33 am

Squirm because it’s a great way to turn your name into an action verb. I’m a much, much slower knitter than you are but of course, I don’t have the magic mice to help.

Comment by LynnM 02.20.09 @ 8:42 am

I think it’s a brilliant idea, although I also like the idea of de-identifying the gifter (or Alison-er), too. Mostly because many people will be more willing to post their gift if they are NOT identified. Just think – Some Monday night when the 5 o’clock news is full of people being horrible to other people, we can go to the Alison Foundation for tangible evidence that there is still good in the world. My grandmother did not knit or crochet, but she always said, “The world will be saved one person at a time.” So…One Alison (I LOVE that you are a verb!!) at a time. And a list of them. How cool is that!! OK, Alison’s Dad – Sign me up.

Comment by Debra 02.20.09 @ 8:57 am

I’ve lurked for a while now, but this post is forcing me to out myself. I LOVE this idea. I just finished a shawl for an office mate whose family is in the midst of losing both grandmothers. It still needs blocked, but knowing it would wrap this family in the stitches my little hands knit was on my mind with each stitch.

On another note, as a CPA who has completed a few tax exempt applications, I would be delighted to offer my service in that realm if needed.

Blessings to you, Alison, in your recovery and spreading blessings and peace to the world!

Comment by Diane 02.20.09 @ 9:05 am

Thanks so much for your words, Mr. Jeppson. She is indeed an inspiration and a wonderful teacher about life. I’ll be giving some items in honor of Alison this year.

Comment by Renee 02.20.09 @ 9:18 am

what a heartwarming story- so glad you dad shared
the WWII history!

Comment by susan 02.20.09 @ 9:28 am

My great-uncle (Mom’s side) and my grandfather (Dad’s side) were both in Italy during the war. My mother’s mother, who only did handicrafts because it was expected, knit my great-uncle a sweater from a Red Cross kit. She didn’t think much of it. To my great-uncle, however, it meant home. We found out from my great-aunt, his wife, after he died, that he’d saved that sweater for all those years. He kept it in a drawer, and resisted all efforts to get rid of it over the years. My mom has it now, and we’ve done some looking for the pattern. It’s the wretched olive-y/khaki color that came with the kit, but it meant the world to my great-uncle.

My mom has kept a list of what she knits for a number of years, just so she can look back, and see what she’s done. 🙂

Comment by Serena 02.20.09 @ 10:53 am

Alison already knew she inspired me to gift my surgeon (fingerless mitts) and her nurse (scarf) after my surgery this fall.

She just makes us open our eyes and be aware of how much people do for us every day!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 02.20.09 @ 10:54 am

amazing how such alot of history is held in such a small group – my grandfather-in-law was the individual at the home-office who typeset the orders for D’Day – he wasn’t allowed to say anything for 50 years (official secrets act) – so when he finally was allowed it almost exploded out of him! what an excellent idea Alisons-Dad!

Comment by mary seabrook 02.20.09 @ 11:17 am

Great idea! Why not start a Ravelry group for it?

Comment by Eileen 02.20.09 @ 1:15 pm

Thanks for sharing your family history! How interesting!
I also think your fathers idea is great! (Now we really know where your persistence comes from!)
::hugs:: ~A

Comment by Alicia 02.20.09 @ 2:17 pm

Mr. Jeppson, great idea! I know that Alison really has a lot of people she wants to thank and will be busy knitting scarves and shawls to thank them for her surgery and recovery — so how about if some of us send her a shawl or scarf for her to ‘Alison’ it to the appropriate people who helped keep her alive! I will hand-deliver a lovely shawl I just finished for her to send on it’s way to someone special. That would be a little start. And, she can concentrate on healing and writing the next book.
Love and hugs, Nancy W.

Comment by Nancy 02.20.09 @ 3:22 pm

Mr. Jeppson, this makes perfect sense to me. There’s a lot to be said for the idea of knitting gifts for people you know. I loved the person who, inspired by Alison, knit the perfect gloves for the guy who worked at her filling station all winter long with red, chapped hands.

There’s not an organization I know of that advocates such knitting.I’m sure one would be very useful. Also very fun.

I know such an organization would be useful to me now. I have fallen in with a group of knitters who are not on the Internet much, nor are they lace knitters. I’m also engaged in knitting hats for great-nieces. These baby girls have a cue ball look: no hair. “Why are you knitting for other people?” my fellow knitters sometimes ask. Possibly because a hat that transforms what appears to be a cue ball head into a cute little girl head is more useful than another scarf for myself.

More fun, too. I love learning about the travels of my hats. One recently went to Paris where it was very much needed.

For those many who have been so influenced, it would be totally fun to compare notes. I’d love to see pictures of the gloves knit for the gas station attendant, for example. I don’t know what I can do to help, but the photo of my hat in Paris is always available.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Comment by RobinM 02.20.09 @ 6:47 pm

All my life I’ve had this nagging feeling that I was supposed to run my own business. In 2004 I retired due to health reasons but after a year I decided I needed to move my knitting hobby to a new level. Besides, my family was tired of scarves and hats. I made flyers to send to neighbors and friends to ask them to join me in knitting items to donate to local hospitals and shelters. The Chicks with Sticks of Glenmont, NY was born in August of 2005 and as of December 2008 we have knitted and donated over 650 clothing items and blankets to charities local and nationwide. There are 13 active members who meet at my house weekly to knit and chat. We have grown to be a family of women who love each other and receive as much as we give. About six months into this project I sat meditating as I knit and thought to myself “This is it! This is the business I wanted to run!” I am CEO, CFO, HR department all rolled into one. We don’t make any profits, as all our materials are purchased by the Chicks, but we are rich in love and a feeling of accomplishment. I have a journal in which I keep photos of all we have donated with the date and recipient and I also started a blog last January 2008. If you are interested, go to
It wasn’t hard to do and we have even inspired my daughter to start a group out of Philadelphia with her online friends . Who knows? Maybe we’ll inspire someone else out there! Alison, I think your Dad might be onto something!

Comment by Jody M 02.20.09 @ 9:01 pm

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