Knitting together

They say that humans are instinctively drawn to stories and some of my earliest and fondest memories are of my maternal grandmother (Nan) and her sister who was actually called Gertrude but we called her Gic. They told some great tales of when they were young and it seemed to me they had lived an exciting life, being bombed out of their house during the war. Nan was widowed and she and Gic lived together and had done so for many years. They were both fiendish knitters and crocheters, Gic more so than Nan and it was them who taught me to knit when I was about 9. Gic had a fiancée who died in World War One and she had a trousseau of hand made sheets with crocheted lace at the top, never to be used until she gave up waiting for ‘the one’. I still have the sheet today, even though the sheet itself is worn through – the fabric of her life was contained in it and how could I throw that away? Likewise the embroidered tablecloths, pictures, tray cloths, mats, antimacassars, all produced from their prolific, loving and industrious hands.

I used to go there very regularly and they were always clicking away at some fresh project or other. Freqeuntly it involved recycled yarn where they would undo a jumper and re-knit it after washing the yarn to get the crinkles out. The worn parts would be cut out and maybe some contrasting cuffs and waistband added to make up for the yarn that had been removed. With their help I crocheted squares and sewed them up into a skirt and waistcoat – I shudder to think of it now but please remember I was very young and it was 1970! My first jumper had been completed long before then – pale blue nylon yarn knit in feather-and-fan pattern, I can see it now. 

I love the fact that I eventually inherited all their knitting needles, which are of course the old British sizes and made of a strange plastic that tastes horrible if you put it in your mouth. I like to think of their hands (and of course my mother’s, who got the needles before I did) working away at their various projects and the fact that some of the needles probably came from even further back in my ancestry. Even now I occasionally buy knitting needles at car boot sales, even though I have my own collection in millimetre straights, in double-pointed metal, bamboo, circular – you name it. 
My mum was more of a sewer than a knitter but she passed on her skills to me. It’s a good job I have my own daughter to pass both the skills and the needles on to and she has got the knitting and sewing bug too. We have many happy times together planning and choosing, pinning and blocking, and some times swearing and frogging. Truly the circle of life. 

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