Women that knit

The women in my family are knitters. It’s what we do. My earliest memory of my grandmother is her sitting in her chair in her flat knitting premature baby clothes. She always knit for the local hospital as well as for me. I was a premature baby and I’m pretty sure that the hand knitted tiny garments I wore to keep me warm and safe are one of the reasons it all worked out okay. Knitting has a power like that, or at least my grandmothers knitting certainly did.

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Her needles always clicked as they were straight and metal and they made balls of super wash wool disappear and reappear into jackets and hats and jumpers like a special form of magic.

She tried to teach me to knit when I was around five years old. But I was impatient and a tomboy and much more interested in running around in the garden wearing my fathers shirts and pretending to be Columbo than being stuck indoors with sticks and string.

I regret that my grandmother didn’t get to see me take up her skill and make it into something of my own. I think she would be very proud of my ability to take 400 yards of a brightly coloured wool and turn it into socks, with my circular carbon fibre needles that are so different to hers.

But I am fortunate that my mother sees me knit all the time. She taught me when I finally came to the realisation that this was something I felt I should have in my life. One winters evening on a flying visit north she patiently sat through my very first knit and purl stitches. She then followed up the tuition with patient phone conversations and helpful hints. Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach someone a craft when you can only hear their voice. This was before Skype or FaceTime and my mum had the patience of a saint!

Imagine her surprise when she next sees me knitting, almost a year later and exclaims at how my hands look nothing like hers or her mothers. I hold my needles very differently and she finds it strange to watch them create the same things from such a different style.

Why am I ruminating on all this? Because here I sit with my wedding knitting. I am about to cast on and it feels more significant that other projects as it will be more tied to a place and an event than ever before. Not least because I am following in my grandmothers footsteps like never before. My favourite photograph of her is the one of her knitting on her honeymoon. Soon I will have a similar picture taken. I don’t usually knit on holiday, but I know I have to this time because it would have made her giggle to see it. I’m breaking from tradition and not knitting for my new husband. Instead I’m knitting for myself, because according to him it keeps me sane and in that way it’s all knitting for him!

So knitting will have played a big part in my wedding and honeymoon. But no mother, if you’re reading this, you’re not allowed to knit during the ceremony!

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