Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Yarn - A Lifetime of Knitting

14:26:00 Posted by Pamela Winning , , , , , , , , 1 comment

If you know me well enough, you will know that I spend a lot of my time knitting and crocheting.  I love to spend a relaxing evening with a lap full of wool and I’m constantly making baby clothes and things for my grandchildren.

My hobby goes back to when I was a little girl, fascinated by my grandmother who was always knitting, and my mother who, at that time was knitting for the unborn baby that became my little sister. Between them, they taught me. One of them would start me off by ‘casting on’ about twelve stitches then I would knit rows. At the age of seven and a half I was successful at making a plain scarf for a doll. It was a mystery how I always ended up with more stitches than I’d started with, but it didn’t matter, and the holes that sometimes appeared for no reason didn’t matter either. I loved helping my mum with her little matinee coats. She did the ‘purl’ rows and let me do the ‘knit’ rows and being involved in getting things ready for the baby was the best thing ever.

My skills improved as I grew up. In my early teens I wanted to learn to crochet.  Twiggy looked fabulous in a crocheted mini dress with a chain belt. I could make that. Carnaby Street eat your heart out. My Nanna spent hours teaching me. I studied her hand movements intently as she slowly took me step by tiny step. ‘Yarn round the hook once, then through, yarn round the hook twice then through once then once again and do the same in every loop.’ Yes, I followed and understood, I could take it from there, so off I went. A short time later, I would be handing her back a tangled mess of wool. She would tut and I would be holding back tears of frustration.  I never mastered crochet in the grandmother’s lifetime and Twiggy was soon wearing cotton summer dresses with a zip up the front. I had one of those.

I managed to crochet a bedspread when I was about twenty-two. I was living alone and trying to make my flat a home. No television, but there was some great radio drama in the evenings. I had a crochet pattern and lots of determination. It took ages. I still have it, after many years of thinking it was lost, and I’m sure my grandmother would be proud. Both my grandmothers and my mother left me a legacy of life skills.

My husband and I have been staying at our favourite getaway in Dumfries and Galloway recently.  On the way, we usually stop at Castle Douglas for a bite to eat and to stock up with groceries. I take advantage of a gander round one of my favourite shops, Outback Yarns craft shop and always come out with something.  I have a massive collection of various wools and yarns at home, but there’s always room for more. I still have a stash I brought home from the Hebrides last year.
 
I found this poem. I remembered holding out my arms for my mum to wind wool, and it made me smile.
 
She'd bring to me a skein of wool
And beg me to hold out my hands;
so on my pipe I cease to pull
And watch her twine the shining strands
Into a ball so snug and neat,
Perchance a pair of socks to knit
To comfort my unworthy feet,
Or pullover my girth to fit.

As to the winding I would sway,
A poem in my head would sing,
And I would watch in dreamy way
The bright yarn swiftly slendering.
The best I liked were coloured strands
I let my pensive pipe grow cool . . .
Two active and two passive hands,
So busy wining shining wool.

Alas! Two of those hands are cold,
And in these days of wrath and wrong,
I am so wearyful and old,
I wonder if I've lived too long.
So in my loneliness I sit
And dream of sweet domestic rule . . .
When gentle women used to knit,
And men were happy winding wool.
Robert William Service (1874-1958)
 
The bedspread, when I found it again last year.
 
Thanks for reading, Pam x
 
 
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1 comments:

Steve Rowland said...

My knitting days were over by age 7. (At infants school the whole class had a go at knitting - very egalitarian in those days.) I fashioned a brown jumper for my teddy bear (though the girls had to do the tricky stuff for me, like casting on and off). The bear did wear that rather ill-fitting jumper, though he looked none too pleased about it. I've not picked up the needles since. I liked your choice of poem.