Keepin’ Yer Feets and Hands Warm!

Yesterday I posted about the old loom, and it reminded me of another staple past-time/skill of the older generation of ladies; knitting.  I bet nearly all my generations Moms knit, and perhaps many younger still do.  We all had ugly cardigans and fisherman’s knit sweaters, and the ugliest of all the Christmas one with the deer and snowflakes (thank god I never had one of those!).  But the best thing of all, and something we often got at Christmas were our vamps and double mitts!

Darning Needle

I know from experience if you tell someone from outside Newfoundland that you’re wearing vamps they won’t have a clue what you are talking about.  But I still wear them to this day to keep my feet warm on the basement floor here. What are they?  Well they are over-sized socks, not like store bought wool socks which are a finer stitch, but more like a sweater for your feet.  Often well worn, and holes darned up with the old darning needle, making them a patchwork of multiple colors, but like comfort food, they are something that just makes you feel cozy.

Another staple we wore back in the day was what we called a double mitt.  Rather than the traditional mitt, with a thumb and larger section for your fingers, these had a thumb, index finger and then the larger space.  There’s probably a reason why, but darned if I know what it is.  These were almost always (except in my picture of course) had a different square pattern on the back of the hand from the rest of the mitt.  If anyone has a picture, I’d love a copy!

Besides keeping yoru hands warm, though these often had another use, and maybe that was the reason for the index finger.  If you think back on watching the older fisherman in their stage at the slitting table, you’ll likely recall at least some of them wearing a double mitt on one hand, to better get a grip on the slippery fish!

For whatever reason, likely nostalgia, these in my memory seemed to keep our hands warmer than anything store bought.  I can remember now, coming inside with balls of snow stuck to them from making forts and tunnels, throwing them in the warmer, or on the oven door of the old wood stove, and hauling on a dry pair of vamps after a day outside.