Thursday, 3 January 2008

Family Ties

As I have mentioned before I come from an extended family of knitters. Thanks to my mum and grandmother I could knit before I went to school as I always had one or the other of them close at hand to magic away any knitting disaster I handed to them in childish despair. As they are no longer with me, my knitting remains a strong connection that I still feel with them.

In my recent visit to my dad he mentioned that he had come across a piece of my mum's knitting and produced this, the baby shawl that my mum had knitted for me. As you can see it is a circular shawl, knit in robust and sensible off white baby yarn with a spiral garter centre and a feather and fan lace border.

Here is a detail of the stitch pattern. As you can see, this forty... ahem...something piece has admirably stood up to the test of time. My heart was also very much warmed to hear that having found it my dad mentioned that he had been putting it around his shoulders for sitting up in bed and reading. Now we are a family who don't gush a great deal about our emotions, being of no nonsense northern and peasant stock so of course we made the usual cracks about 'My what big eyes you have grandma', but I really treasure the idea that my dad is deriving warmth from something that was knit to welcome me into the world all those years ago.
And just to prove the provenance of this venerable garment, look what I found in the family album and yes, that grumpy little character is me showing absolutely no appreciation of mum's handiwork!


While I was delving in the family archive I also came across this marginally more cheerful image of me a few years later sporting more of my mum's knitting which I remember as white with a variegated blue wool for the stranded section. This photo tells a number of stories. Firstly, it demonstrates the British enthusiasm for the seaside - even if the temperature requires the wearing of a ski jumper whilst playing in the sand with the good old bucket and spade. Secondly the snugness of the collar of the jumper bears witness to the fact that knitwear designers sometimes forget the basic anatomical fact that the heads of small children are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their bodies. I attribute the slightly apprehensive look on my face to the knowledge that the removal of the garment would require significant wrestling and the possibility of the loss of my ears. When my younger sister, slightly more well endowed in the ear department than myself, inherited the jumper, mum relented and inserted a zip in one of the back raglans, to my sister's great relief.



Capturing these images of my knitting heritage has been a great pleasure. I like to think that mum and nanny would be proud that I am carrying on the family tradition.

10 comments:

Nikki said...

What a great story! and I love that your Dad is warming up with your baby shawl too...

yogicknitter said...

I love that shawl.I still have ones that were knitted for me that I have since used for my own children. How fantastic that is still bringing in the warmth and comfort that it was knit for in the first place.

Fegrig said...

I can really understand the familial connection although I have yet to succumb to the knitting thing I still have a jumper my Mum knitted for me over 20 odd years ago,a bit past its best now but still in use. There is another one in the attic somewhere as origonally modelled by Lionel Blair, it has an in built stripey tie- no kidding- your shirt collar was worn over the jumper neck giving the impression that you are wearing a shirt and tie, FAB! Sir Cliff ALSO had one.
Mum died 16 years ago and the jumper is a living memorial to a woman who knitted more things than I care to remember and I now appreciate that she had a stash that could rival many of you in its range and size.

picperfic said...

a beautiful tale Jane...how wonderful to have items with such heritage! You were such a cutie! Sure you still are but I haven't seen a photo of you!

LittleBerry said...

lovely story and nice dad is using your shawl now....

Auntie Noo said...

You may not come from emotional stock , but I suddenly seem to have dust in my eyes!!!! So warming that your dad is using the shawl.......

and those mittens in the last post - Wow!!!!

Queen of the froggers said...

Lovely. The shawl is nice.

Mandella said...

What a lovely post. I too come from a knitting family, Mum, Great Auntie Doris and my Great Gran all had roles to play in cultivating a young knitter and crocheter. Don't know how my Nan got missed out, but Mum assures me she used to knit once upon a time too. And yes, I remember ear-stripping jumper necks as well.

The shawl is gorgeous. I'm glad your Dad is still using it.

K. said...

It's funny, but until I read your post I had forgotten all about the ear stripping! I'm glad the patterns I see for kids now aren't so tight in the neck. I want my girls to keep their ears! It is wonderful that you grew up with knitters to help you along. I didn't learn until I was 20. My mother did knit some and I still have a sweater that she knit for me about 20 years ago. I hope to help my girls along the way your mum and nanny did you.

littlelixie said...

Oh my goodness! Those photos are so cute!