When I was a little girl, crafts were valued in school. Sewing, knitting, cooking, beadwork, crochet, woodwork, metalwork; each skill was made available to us. My own children haven't had these opportunities at school, which is such a shame. It seems traditional craft skills are not high on the list of priorities in these computerised, mass produced, days.
I am hopelessly left handed and I remember my teacher struggling to teach me to knit and at best, helping me to achieve a wonky, not to mention loopy, garter stitch square, to be stitched together with many other similar shaped offerings into a rainbow coloured blanket, for the local old folks home. So, by the age of seven, we were already beginning to understand the value of creating something 'useful' with our hands, relishing the process of turning a simple piece of yarn into a small contribution, and sharing the process in a companionable circle.
It's probably those very early days, which rooted my first instincts for craftwork firmly in place. I remember too, watching my mother clack at lightening speed as she churned out jumper after jumper for me and my sisters to wear. Not for us the shop bought school sweaters, Mum took pride in knitting sweaters for us to wear to school. Not that we appreciated her efforts of course because in those pre-pubescent days, we yearned to wear the same thin knitwear our friends' mums purchased in the town!
Mum tried in vain to progress my knitting skills, but 'wonky, loopy' simply couldn't be improved upon, it seemed there was little hope for left-handed me. Years later, when penniless and pregnant, my early craft instincts were resurrected and led me to purchase an instruction book. With grit I worked my way through, determined my new baby would have a full layette when born. I mastered the basics and knitted frantically throughout my pregnancy, taking such pride as my bottom drawer began to fill with tiny lacewear!
When my son was born two years later, I kept on knitting and as you can see, at the age of three, he loved his Thomas the Tank Engine sweater. He's twenty two now, so more than happy for me to turn my knitting skills away from him and towards my bears instead!
These days, bear-making has to take priority, but I still manage to find time to clack my bamboo needles now and again. I've just finished this little waistcoat (recognise the buttons?) for a teddy bear and as you can see, I have several other bits n' pieces on the go too.
My favourite place to knit is the conservatory, it's so relaxing to be surrounded by my garden. With a mug of coffee ready on the table while I work, it really is the perfect place to hide away from the stresses and strains of real life, while I knit to my heart's content!