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Audrey – a lapsed, nonagenarian knitter

Knitting is like washing up, it’s just a thing you did.  It wasn’t worth remembering.

Learning to knit: I have no idea who taught me to knit.  I imagine it was my mother.  I don’t remember her knitting much as she was a pub landlady and ran a B&B so had little time to knit.  Nor do I remember the first thing I knitted or anything I made in my teens or during the war either, though I’m told that I knitted a lot of dishcloths. 

It was really when I had children when I started knitting.  We lived a life moving around.   I do remember knitting lots of little hats (bonnets) for the children when they were babies.  Little woollen hats for when they were a few months old.  I don’t remember much more until someone reminds me, but my daughters (Gill and Alison) say that when we were all in Norway I taught them how to knit dish cloths to pass their Brownie badge.  They were a very loose knitting out of a cotton substitute.  Alison remembers that I also knitted her a Norwegian jumper in blue and white – using round needles.  Apparently I also made bed socks on 4 double pointed needles as well as matinee jackets, bootees and hats in white lacy patterns for my son when he was born.  Then I made layettes for my grandsons when they were born.  My daughters remember that I spent a lot of time knitting jumpers and cardigans.  I don’t recall them.  Apparently I knitted Aran jumpers with cables/bobbles for Alison and my husband.  His was Navy, and hers was cream

Knitted Wonders In the mid-eighties my daughters reminded me that I did picture jumpers for my grandsons.   I did a jumper with a knitted wiggly worm coming out the pocket for the oldest.  A favourite of the youngest was a humpty dumpty sweater with 3D legs that dangled over the wall.  Then much more recently, in 2014 my daughter asked me to help her with a science project, which I vaguely remember.  I had to knit the digestive system for her.  I did an oesophagus, stomach and small and large intestines.  She wanted to be able to unravel it to show how long an intestine was.  I think they were in authentic colours and to scale.  My daughter sent me a description and I had to interpret the words and work out the sizes and how it all fitted together using my first aid books as reference.

Attitudes to Knitting: Knitting was always very functional, that was what you did in those days.  I didn’t feel pressure to knit – it was just away of life.  I did it at home, in private.  In the forces, officers’ wives have to arrange flowers on the table and host dinner parties and things like that.  Knitting was for the other wives.  No one discussed knitting. Then knitting went out of fashion as you could buy knitted things so easily.  It’s a long time since I’ve seen hand knitted things, I don’t know anyone who knits (much laughter as her daughters and daughter-in-law all knit).  Attitudes have changed, it’s much easier to go out and buy things now.  Younger people can’t be bothered to knit, they’d rather go to the cinema or watch television, they’re just not interested.

I did still do some scarves quite recently.  That’s about all I want to knit these days in all different kinds of patterns, but I’ve got enough now. I much preferred embroidery – crewel work.  I loved that, I made lots of floral pictures, and a bird of paradise.  It was a real pleasure to do, I like the colours. I didn’t get that same pleasure for knitting, it was just a job one did.  It was like housework, a requirement.

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Published by jencableart

Jen Cable is a mixed media textile artist who loves to draw attention to the outmoded, fabulous, awful and bizarre aspects of culture and everyday society

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