Knitting By The Lake

‘I am a forty eight year old woman who loves books and I have read zillions in my life. My husband has never heard me laugh out loud as much or cried as I read “Ready or not”. It was a fabulous read and I am now an avid fan of yours. So sad when the book ended but ready for the next one. Wonderful and beautifully written.’ Comment from Therese

Wrote an article about the joys of crafting quite a while ago and the other day remembered how I did quite a bit of knitting when I was younger. I remember bringing a large partly knitted sleeveless jacket kind of thing with me when I traveled to Africa. It required a complicated stitch and vaguely resembled a sheepskin rug (the wool was cream coloured). I nearly finished it and then realised I would never wear it. It was strange enough to fit quite nicely into a modern art installation. Still, I probably enjoyed the click click click of those needles. Heaven knows where I found the pattern.

When I was an au pair in Switzerland in my mid teens the nice lady I was staying with was a very keen knitter. We spent loads of time by Lake Geneva with her kids and she often brought her knitting with her. I seem to recall she was constructing some kind of poncho and it looked fab. She whizzed through those stitches like a pro. Because of this I decided I would knit a jumper. It was to be long and black and sophisticated. Sitting by Lake Geneva for many hours most days was very nice but the lovely weather did not seem to induce a wish to knit…in me anyway. Madame P.’s poncho grew at a great rate. I decided that my jumper didn’t have to be that long…and then I decided it didn’t require sleeves either. I added a purple edge to parts of it and it was actually quite nice. I had it for years and enjoyed saying “Yes, I knitted this myself”.

When staying with relatives in Swaziland I got into crochet. I don’t think I crocheted anything in particular. One of the nice things about crochet is that you can make little coloured squares very quickly, even if you don’t know what you’re going to do with them.

In some ways it’s amazing I wasn’t put off knitting completely at primary school. Us kids were asked to knit…socks. Even at that tender age I presumed that socks would be things I would buy. The teacher was critical of the heel I’d knitted. I had to rip it up and start again. This may have happened more than once. The demoralised sock remained unfinished. It was a pleasant blue colour. (That seemingly pointless sock knitting experience snuck into ‘Ordinary Miracles’. Yippee. I found a use for that sock after all.)

As a wee girl I had a nice little knitting set. I think it was in some kind of basket. I may have tried to knit stuff for dolls and teddies but I was far more interested in scampering around outside and playing in the river and climbing the big old oak tree. I liked the look of the knitting set though. And later, when I got into ponies in a huge way, I was thrilled when my Mum knitted me a thick cerise coloured jumper with a horseshoe on the front.

The other day I visited a local arts centre and found they’d just had a knitathon. I was, in truth, rather glad I’d missed it. I know that knitting can be a huge pleasure. Ava, in ‘Ready Or Not?’ makes wonderful jumpers and finds it very therapeutic. I have written about its pleasures in articles. I once even borrowed a book by Kaffe Fassett from the library. I love the idea of knitting. Yes, it would be really nice to knit a sweater one day…maybe. I’ll leave the knitted socks to the experts.

Warm wishes,


Ordinary Miracles review:

‘Since Rosie [the pig] is not around, I’ve taken to talking to Teddy. My husband’s a liar and my daughter thinks she may be a lesbian, I tell him. My marriage is over and I’m too scared to get involved with anyone else – even though there’s another man who’s probably perfect for me.’

‘Wynne-Jones’s novel gives us a hilarious, exhilarating and sometimes poignant insight into the life of Jasmine Smith in her forty-first year, whose husband Bruce satisfies his lust in the marital bed with a family friend, and then begs forgiveness. Jasmine moves out of the family home into lodgings, where she finds a sympathetic ear in Charlie, her new landlord, and a pig called Rosie. Supported by her friend Susan, Jasmine experiments in widening what she feels was her mundane lifestyle. Daughter Katie, who has left home to study and do voluntary work in a dog’s home, gives Jasmine further problems to consider. Susan and Jasmine take an ‘alternative holiday’ to Ibiza. On their return home, Jasmine at last realises what and who she wants to share her life with, and it is certainly not Bruce. There are few who will not empathise with the characters within Ordinary Miracles; an excellent read and eloquently written. Norma Penfold A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

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