Sunday, January 6, 2013

An old Nana's Knitting

At a time when there's really not much stitchety stuff happening around here it was a strike of serendipity to be gifted the remnants of a friend's 92 year old mother's wool and yarn stash.
This is one bag of two, that my darlingest second daughter and I spent the afternoon disemboweling and sorting into colours and weights and ranges and usable bits and not so usable bits. I have stacked much of it into a large cane trunk, and I think it may well become the basis for the execution of my beautiful yarn garden.
There was much that in those bags that was the stuff of the ladies' knitting circle, the CWA annual craft stall, the everyday, the pedestrian. Bags and bags of "Craftlon", bits of it knitted into the startings of coat hanger covers and much of it just a tangle of colour.
But there was treasure to be found in these shopping sacks. There was the neat and ordered handiwork of a skilled needlewoman. There were precious things within this jumble of thread and yarn. Preparation done, pieces knitted in readiness for completion. Knitted lace edgings for towels in softest duck-egg blue and white
Samples of pearle cotton crochet, probably destined as covers for small packets of tissues, or for cakes of soft-smelling soap
There was also a sweet little tea cosy, prettiest green and embroidered with yellow flowers. It happened to fit our little teapot and will make such a welcome covering to warm the morning brew.

Oh, and just look at these beautiful balls of vintage pink. It is called "Cocktail", shot with silver thread, original label intact. 5-ply, a "sport'weight" I think they call it in America. Sweet little 20gram balls. So very pretty. I am thinking this would make the most beautiful baby socks and a pixie hat for a newborn grand-person due in the wintertime (but only if bump turns out to be of the girly kind)
.Oh, and look at this amazing piece of work. We really weren't sure just what it was destined to become, but it is lovely and dimensional, in my favourite red and limey-limey green on a black base.
And there was a random pile of granny squares, not all completely coordinated, but the startings of a warming knee rug for some lucky soul.
But the best bit of all was the joy of trawling the button bag. I ran my fingers through it at first, just feeling the shapes and then looking at each handful as I drew it out of the bag. Then I emptied it all out and sorted through this wonderfully diverse cache.
A darning mushroom, a thimble, various tools that are not yet familiar to me, some very very old buttons, still attached to their cardings, buttons from the 1920s, the 30s and the 40s were easily identifiable.

I'm not an expert, but the large green buttons with metal inserts look as though they have come straight from a 1920s woollen coat, there are bakelite buttons and buckles, in those 1930s reds and greens, fabric covered buttons from the 1950s, suspender belt fittings and all sorts of odds and sods.
 But goodness, look at this lot!! The tape measure was folded as though it had never been unravelled - made in England it says. Two tiny spools of french blue thread, probably part of an old chatelaine. a little bone crochet hook, and a bone marking tool, and when I laid it in the palm of my hand I could almost feel the hands of generations past holding it in just the same way. There is a needle guage, marked "The Archer Bell Guage" made by H Walker, London, probably circa 1920-1930.

And then there are knitting needles, bakelite again, some genuine tortoise shell, some plastic and others metal. There are long double pointed metal needles, crochet hooks, circular needles. Probably everything a serious knitter would ever need.
But crazy as it might seem, my favourite find of the afternoon were two skeins of 4-ply navy yarn. I have been searching for just such a thing for quite some time as I have a desire to knit school socks for my all of a sudden man-son. Even he will admit that there is nothing more comfortable than hand-knitted socks.

But last word for the evening comes from my son who is ready for chapter two of The Life of Pi. I love to read aloud and for some unknown reason he is still happy to listen to my voice. There is more depth still to Nana's Knitting bags, but I have given you the best of the best. It was a wonderful way to spend an evening and I feel blessed by the generosity of a friend and the creativity of her mother.

With love as always

Evie xxx


  1. These finds are incredible! I can't wait to see what you make of them, wonder-woman! <3

  2. Oh thank you, thank you. I can't express the joy I have had in working my way through this trove of ephemera, the fleeting glimpses into the creative life of another generation. And it is the tiny things, the very old and precious things that have reached deep into my being and released the child that still remembers sitting at her grandmother's feet with the button box and the hum of the treadle machine. It has made me cry with joy and with quiet and gentle grief about a time now lost. Who would ever imagine that the accumulation of another person's lifetime could touch upon your own so deeply. I am in my own little heaven. I can't wait to begin to repurpose and create!
    Evie xxx


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