A knitting yarn

My first grandchild, a girl, is due in January and we are all getting very excited. My daughter, Rowan, and her husband, Michael, are renovating, painting, building the nest, and consulting the book of a thousand and one names for children.

And I’ve bought some wool and knitting needles. It’s been 30 years since I’ve knitted anything, and that was a baby cardigan for Rowan, but they say it’s like riding a bike – you never forget.

January is hot in Brisbane, so I’m knitting a few sizes up so she can be warm in a Brisbane winter. “It’s tradition,” I told Rowan. “You have to knit for a new baby, even when you live in the subtropics. It’s in the bones.”

So, on Saturday, I chose my wool and cast on. 65 stitches. Clickety clack, it all came back.

I remembered being about four years old, sitting with my mother listening to the wireless, while she clickety clacked her way through her afternoon knitting. We had a special arrangement. If I was quiet while she listened to Women’s Hour, she would be quiet for Listen with Mother. She must have pitched it well: Listen with Mother was a ten minute show.

I kept the bargain. I was very quiet. I said nothing. I found some knitting needles and sat next to her, playing at knitting. Clickety clack, clickety clack, clickety clack, until the noise became too much for her and she decided it would be much quieter if she taught me how to knit. And so we began. I knitted a square, then a doll’s scarf, graduating to tea cozies with pompoms, hats, mittens without thumbs, mittens with thumbs, gloves, and on and on we went.

There was always a knitting project on the go for English girls of my era. (Don't worry, Rowan, it's not pink!)

There was always a knitting project on the go for English girls of my era. (Don’t worry, Rowan, it’s not pink!)

There was always a knitting project on the go for English girls of my era. Icelandic jumpers with intricate patterns (by then I was in my 20s and living through freezing Scottish winters), and, finally, lacy baby clothes for my first baby.

And then it all stopped. For thirty years. Euan missed out on his knitted cardi when he was born the following year. There had been no time to sit, let alone knit. And now here I am, shaping the shoulders on the back of my granddaughter’s little jumper, rows and rows of nicely tensioned stitches trailing from my fingers, as if I’ve been doing this all my life.

The things we learn as children – consciously and unconsciously – anchor deep, as we so often discover when we explore our dreams and identify beliefs and experiences stretching way back to childhood that still influence the way we go about our lives. It’s tradition, you see. You have to knit for a new baby, even when you live in the subtropics. It’s in the bones.

And I’m loving it. I’ll post a pic when I’ve finished.

The jacket I knitted.

The jacket I knitted.

PS. 21 December.

I finished these last month, and just remembered I said I’d post a pic:

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2 Responses to A knitting yarn

  1. Carla Young says:

    Beautiful work! Here’s something I’ve often wondered: Why is it that when a baby is on the way we women are overcome with the urge to hand-make something for him / her? Got to be some sort of archetype, as yet undiscovered by the male shrinks.

  2. Interesting thought. What do men do? One thing that did strike me, when doing the knitting, was that it’s wonderful to make something tiny, intricate. Someone asked me if I could knit an adult sized jumper. I can, but imagine working through acres of sleeves! But no, let me go deeper: In the story of the search for the Holy Grail, doesn’t the mother knit her son a homespun garment to protect him? During his journey he must ultimately replace this with a new suit of his own choosing. He must find his individuality, his mission, his purpose, his holy grail. Where was I going with this? Lost the thread, LOL.

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