If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gertrud

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gertrud

If these hands could talk, they might laugh instead, at the irony of life.

These are the hands of Gertrud (no E) who upon coming to America from Sweden at age 18, brought along some well-intended advice from her mother… “Never ever carry a handbag in America because Al Capone’s men will steal it.” Gertrud spent exactly two days following her dear mom’s advice before making her first trip to Macy’s for a handbag. Now over 70 years later, the irony is stitched into every perfect bag that Gertrud lovingly and laughingly touches.  And the stories just kept coming…..

Gertrud claims she learned to knit when she was two days old and who are we to challenge the facts when her hands clearly have spoken knit one purl two longer than we can count? When asked what she likes best about the work, she sweetly smiles and tells us another story.

“Last week, I was so upset and I couldn’t sleep. In the middle of the night, I got up and knitted and fell asleep in my chair so relaxed.” And yet every stitch was perfect.

These hands have nursed sick patients, soothed sore bodies as a physical therapist, played tennis against Diane Sawyer, oh…and raised four children. After moving to California, Gertrud took her brood back to Sweden for a visit. Having always wanted to meet a King, her daughter sent a note to the King of Sweden inviting him to tea….he instead invited the whole family. Gertrud outfitted them in matching hand-knit jackets and they were off to see the leader. She has the picture to prove it. Ah the stories! Starring Greta Garbo, Orson Wells, FDR… This story may have to be continued because Gertrud’s hands still have so much to say.


Gertrud Stockton has been knitting with The Purlettes and telling Sarah stories  for over a year; her favorite bag is the Coco. The walls of her residence at The Redwoods are adorned with colorful and stunning oil paintings. When we inquired about the artist, yet another story ensued….the artist was named Gertrud (no E).


  1. Fantastic piece about Gertrud, what a fascinating woman.

  2. I really want to see that picture. What is the king wearing?

  3. I, too, want to see that picture of you and the king, Gertrud! And the kids, too (though I’ll admit it’s as much to see your hand knitted things on them as to see the kids or king themselves). I’m a knitter myself and just saw the story about y’all on CNN, so had to come here to see more. I’m glad I did.

    I, too, wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I also knit for a while before I fall back asleep. There’s something magical and intimate about knitting in the middle of the night – the stillness, the quiet, the coziness of being alone in that still and quiet as the dogs sleep at my feet. So comforting.

    Ask Sarah to post more of your stories, would you? The one about FDR – does that one entail you knitting with Eleanor?


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