For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Wednesday 15 March 2017

baby bootees and a handmade legacy

We owe so much to the women who taught us to knit, don't we?

Nannie, now in her nineties, and Auntie Maureen, who we miss, would never have described themselves as knitters, but it's the skills they passed on to me that give me that identity. In their generations, almost everybody was handy with a needle and thread or ball of yarn. Now they're the kind of skills we have to seek out. 

A couple of weekends ago, I headed south to the seaside town where my parents live. I'd been invited to a baby shower for my friend Beth who's about to pop (so exciting). Naturally, I'd done the knitterly thing and stitched a pair of baby bootees – these ones by Marianna. In the past, I've knocked up little pairs of buttoned Mary Janes using the Saartje's Bootees pattern. They are very cute and it's a good excuse to raid the button stash, but I found this design a lot less fiddly.

The pattern is free (always a bonus), they're so easy to knit and look really adorable. I'll definitely be making more of these! I used DROPS Cotton Merino for this pair, which is a soft DK that's machine washable. I was keen to make them in natural fibres and this yarn fitted the bill nicely. Get all the deets on Ravelry here.

I was pretty chuffed with my handmade gift, but it was by no means the most beautiful or meaningful one given. We gathered round and Beth started unwrapping gifts for her little one. The first present was a pair of breathtaking handknitted blankets. One had a colourwork pattern with hedgehogs and a moss stitch border, the other was a delicate circular blanket in fine white lace. Both were lovingly and painstakingly stitched. The lady I was sat next to had made them. Her name was Jean. She was wearing a beautiful handknitted cardigan - periwinkle blue with complicated cables. It sounds cheesy, of course, but you could tell how much love she'd put into the making those blankets. Jean told me they had taken weeks to make and described how she'd made the round one with circular needles. She'd been knitting for years and had made many, many blankets in her time. Jean said she was even making blankets now for the children of people she'd made blankets for before they were born. That's an incredible legacy of heirloom knitted blankets.

Mama-to-be Beth is a very creative lady, so I know those beautiful blankets will be treasured for years to come. Her mum explained to me that Jean was a family friend who'd taught Beth how to knit when she was younger. It got me thinking about the impact that the older women in my life have had.

Nannie and Maureen taught me to knit. It's a simple thing, but it's had a huge impact on my career, my creativity, my identity, the people I've made connections with and how I think about my creator.

There have been some very significant pseudo-grandmas in my life too. Dodie, Nannie's best friend, gave me some vintage knitting patterns and my first tapestry needle years ago. I still use it to sew in all the ends on my projects. Mary gave me and my sister old books that her children had read, which helped kindle my love of reading at a young age. And Gwyn, who taught me about the power of prayer, even amid heartache, and how it's never too late to learn something new or find joy in an unexpected place. I'm so grateful to all of them.

Who do you owe your craft skills to? Let's celebrate them.

1 comment:

  1. My mum sews and appreciates the crafts so I'm lucky to have her support as well as my husband's. It's to him I owe for getting into knitting. How lovely to be surrounded by fellow crafters at the baby shower. Those booties are too cute; I love that stitched detailing in front. Need to check them out.


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