I've been busy the last 3 days, not so much in the studio, but working on new stitch patterns to incorporate into the next round of candle wraps and mugs. One of the things that I enjoy most about the entirety of the way this creative process synthesizes is that when I’m tired of having my hands in mud, or on days when my clay is having a temper tantrum and not wanting to do what I request, I can revert back to my knitting. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are days when the yarn can be equally cantankerous! But the days when all three of us are crabby are few and far between, and it’s nice to have the freedom to flit between the two. Besides, if my hands are filled with yarn or covered in clay, there’s less chance I’m going to snack myself silly!
I’m grateful to have such a vast wealth of experience from which to draw. I have sets of needles that are used the most often. My favorites are those belonging to my mum. I remember her knitting a three-colored cape for me when I was at school, and prior to that, she knit me a blue boucle jumper (as in pinafore dress, not pullover) with an apple on the front. There’s a slight bend in one from when I sat on it one evening in one of my infamous ‘where’d my knitting needle go,’ moments. I knit toys for my friends and their children on these pins. I knit sweaters and clothes for my daughter and her dolls on them. There’s a history there, and when I use them, I’m transported back to those days.
Then there are the needles that belonged to my friend Debby’s mum. I never knew her, but I love my friend Debby, and when she gave me her mum's needles, she knew they were going to be respected and well used. They are, dear one, they are. These knitting needles can't conjure up memories of Debby’s mum for me, but they do remind me of Debby, and of the countless mornings we put the world to rights when we were in our 40s, back in Fleetwood. I still have a set of them in my desk drawer to send to Debby's daughter, so she can make delightful things for herself and her little one, and the cycle can continue.
Other pairs continue to tell the stories. The aluminum ones in the case came from my brother's Aunt Blanche. The red ones belonged to my friend Mark’s gran; she gave them to me during my days of church bell ringing throughout Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. Then there are the short grey sets that belonged to my first husband’s Aunt Joan—not that they were her needles, but they came from her little village shop in Harlaxton, where I worked for several years, until it was sold. There are sets that were sent to me from an online friend, or which belonged to the mother-in-law of someone who was advertising them on Freecycle. I remember where all my needles came from, and always send fond thoughts to their previous owner whenever I search through them for the right size, or use them to create a specific fabric.
To someone else they may just be knitting needles, tools of a dying pastime, but to me they are echos of history. When I use them, I’m often transported back to those days, to places I thought I’d never be again and faces I never thought I’d see again. Would I trade where I am for those days? No, I don’t think I would. However, I know that the life I live now is made sweeter and richer because of those experiences, and I count myself very lucky—you could even say blessed—for the memories that have been created.
So, what’s on the knitting needles today? Today I’m finishing the last texture I want to try out in my clay (I'm a day behind schedule). It's part of a 'Scottish fleet' pattern, taken from an old fisherman's sweater from the 1800s. The texture is good, and the rhythm soothing to knit. I've been out in the glorious spring sunshine for awhile this morning; now it's time to get back to work!