Plain and Purl And Knitting By The Lake

I haven’t knitted for ages, though the idea of it is warm and cosy. I remember bringing a large, partly knitted, sleeveless jacket kind of thing with me when I traveled to Africa in my late teens. 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 the 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.

Ava Lavelle, a match-making Mum in my novel ‘Ready Or Not?’, is a very keen knitter, just as well because her life is saved by a jumper. Good old plain and purl….

I love the idea of knitting, even watching people knit is comforting and warm somehow.

There is something so friendly about a plain stitch tea cosy, especially on a rainy day.

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