Once upon a time, back when we called yarn ‘wool’ and there was often a little wool shop or ‘kiosk’ in even the smallest of towns and independent knitwear designers were twinkles in their grandparents’ eyes, my Mum taught me how to knit.
Actually, I think she first used me as a living wool winder as I remember my early encounters with wool involved standing for a long time, arms outstretched, whilst a skein was converted into a ball. Despite this unpromising apprenticeship, I took up the needles at a young age and have continued, on and off, ever since.
I don’t remember my maternal grandmother ever yielding a pair of knitting needles so I wonder what started my mother off on her lifelong hobby.
Perhaps it was this. ….
…..which would have been just a little after the time she looked like this.
I wonder if she made those pompoms herself.
When I moved to France almost thirteen years ago Mum would come and visit several times a year as well as at Christmas and, what with my sister living in Spain, she was nearly always on her holidays which I hope compensated just a little for us not living next door. Regular readers will know that, during these visits, all other activities were practically abandoned in favour of knitting and chatting together.
This is Mum with Mlle. Tialys the Elder who, while not having caught the knitting bug at the time of writing, is a dressmaker and cross stitcher and could probably be brought into the fold at some future stage.
She made this for her Nan as an early Christmas present.
Back in 2013 Mum was nominated for a voluntary carers’ award for visiting a housebound elderly lady every week – almost without fail – for ten years. She was 80 herself at that point but this was the sort of thing she did. She wasn’t going to attend the award ceremony – being far too shy and modest – but I said I’d go with her and she agreed to go. She received a framed certificate from the Lady Mayor and afterwards we had a traditional English tea (another one!!) in lovely gardens in the sunshine.
While I was in England caring for my Mum with my two sisters, I knitted this little scarflet for my Stitching Santa partner.
Even though Mum didn’t have the strength to knit herself any longer by this stage it still felt like a bonding experience as I’m sure she could probably hear the clicking needles and the quiet chatting as my youngest sister began to knit a bear and my other sister started to knit squares for a blanket. One of my nieces visited, saw the three of us companionably knitting, and wanted to learn. And so the passing on of skills continues.
I have to say – and I know she’d agree with me – that Mum never really progressed beyond ‘enthusiastic amateur’ status. Mainly due to the fact that she hated ‘the sewing up bit’ and looked at me as if I were mad if I ever suggested anything as radical as ‘blocking’ a finished garment. She was the Queen of UFOs (unfinished objects) – her loft was full of half finished jumpers, cardigans, baby clothes, etc. – but even those things she finished weren’t deemed good enough to wear or pass on to the new babies of the family. The little baby jackets, cardigans and bootees we found cast off, in both senses, was poignant to say the least. The joy for her though was in the choosing of the pattern, the
yarn wool and the actual knitting – if something decent came off the needles that was a bonus.
You may remember my recent post about the Ugly Christmas Jumper and how it came to be and I hope you will be pleased to know that it was finally finished (once I’d added proper ribbing to the sleeves and lengthened the body) and handed to ‘the nephew’ one week before Mum died. I think he will treasure it forever.
It was a shame, as she loved Christmas so much, that she died the day before the first window of her advent calendar was to be opened, especially as there was a chocolate inside.
Family was everything to my Mum and I am so pleased that my sisters and I were able to be with her, in her own home, in the last few weeks of her life and could be there for her final, peaceful breaths as she had been there for our first ones. I am finding that a huge comfort at this difficult time.
Wherever you are now Mum, I hope there’s lots of wool and chocolate and laughter.
10th September 1932 – 30th November 2017