Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A bit of a yarn.

Since the birth of my first child more than twenty four years ago, I've loved to knit. In recent years it's a craft which has supposedly achieved fashionable status as a result of celebs spotted clacking needles in the corners of film sets, but more often than not over the past two decades, I've found it to be a skill with the potential to raise quizzical eyebrows from those less well informed, who can't believe knitters are anything other than of pensionable age, with a penchant for knitted socks.

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!


  1. What a beautiful picture of you with your little baby!! And I love the pic of your son in his Thomas the Tank Engine jumper!! I have to say that I deeply admire people who can knit such beautiful clothes, as my abilities are most certainly not beyond the 'loopy and wonky' stage!!!

  2. Paula I envy your ability to knit! Thankfully my school offered sewing... or I never would have learned... but not knitting. I LOVE your conservatory and can easily see why you spend so much time there. Can we see more pictures of your conservatory? It looks like such a pretty place :)


  3. Well, Im sad to say, I can't knit at all....not even "wonky loopy"!
    ..and am just teaching myself to sew with a machine to make the dolls because they need teeeeeensy stitches for those little fingers. Thank goodness I do sew fine by hand, so I can do my mini bears... and...hey..I can even embroider! My Mom did teach me that...she wasn't a knitter either and only stitched by hand if she had to sew.....although having said that...she did make us a sweater once...even though she got somebody to piece the arms to the rest... we were so proud of them we wore them right out!

  4. forgot to mention your conservatory Paula!

    Wow! What a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and just stitch or clack away.... just a lovely space and the garden right there.....

  5. Glad you enjoyed the pics! Thank you all for stopping by. It's great to hear from you. Laura I'll try and take more pics for you ... but bear in mind, this room has yet to be 'done', so you will be seeing it in all it's 'cat room' glory! I'll try and catch pics of the cats at home for you too.

    Vee, there's something really special about someone making something for you isn't there, I wasn't as greatful when my mum made my sweaters, but nowadays I love to receive hand made gifts.

  6. Paula,
    I love seeing the picture of you and your son - brings back memories, doesn't it. I really enjoy knitting - it's very theraputic, but I was never able to teach my left- handed daughter - perhaps you will have to come for a visit!
    I'm also sad that a lot of the hand skills are being lost to this generation - they will never know the pleasure of creating something with their own hands or the pleasure of giving a handmade gift to someone they love. What a shame.
    I've been catching up on your blog today, and boy, I'd kill for your conservatory. We call them sunrooms but I've ALWAYS wanted one. You lucky, lucky girl!




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