This is my Granny’s knitting bag.
It hung on a hook under the stairs, along with her handbag and Grandad’s Trilby. Everything in there, this bag included, smelled reassuringly of Brylcream and shoe polish.
When this bag came to me last year there was an almost-finished work-in-progress still inside. I had sent this pattern and yarn to Granny seven or eight years ago. I thought a small project might occupy her hands. I didn’t really listen when she described the arthritis. I figured I owed it to her to put this project to bed.
The front and back of the matinée coat were finished. Granny had knit the little sleeves and saved the stitches on a safety-pin.
I held those stitches in my hand and, with a deep breath, cast off.
I have to tell you, my heart ached through every moment of that.
My knitting isn’t nearly so neat as hers but I managed to put the thing together. I made the bonnet and booties to match for the sake of completion. The poor doll has taken a battering but she finally got her new outfit.
The bag, for me, is a worn and woolly treasure chest. There is a big stack of old patterns. They are mostly for Aran sweaters. Now that I look at the patterns I realise that she liked to wear cardigans with pockets. I do too.
She knit Aran sweaters for her son, her daughters, her grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren. I’m not sure that any of us appreciated them. I wore this fabulous concoction through my teenage years. It was not a good look. The fact that Husband noticed me beneath my 100% wool Tree-Of-Life patterned tent can only be to his eternal credit.
You can stop laughing now.
Granny told me years ago that she would leave this bag for me and I think she may have stuck these little booklets in for my enlightenment.
Granny considered the possession of a decent Christmas pudding recipe, the ability to calculate compound interest and ‘knowing your cuts of meat’ as essential life skills.
These tools and accoutrements are the real treasure; knitting needles, crochet hooks, sock needles, rug hooks, darning needles, scissors, circular needles, cable needles, tape measures and even the short needles we all used to learn with.
When I take up a pair of these needles and make something she will be there, scolding me for my sloppy tension, not quite gone.