Fourth Edition is taking part in the Knitting & Crocheting Blog Week, and you can read more about that blog project here.
My great-great-grandmother, Ingeborg, died in the 1960s but lives on in the stories told by my grandmother and my mother. Ingeborg was nearly blind when she died, but she kept knitting socks until her final days. My grandmother tells me that Ingeborg would worry about her tension becoming wonky and about dropped stitches, but despite failing eyesight Ingeborg’s socks were as immaculate as they were back in the early 20th century when she kept her sons and one daughter, my great-grandmother, in steady supply of socks.
Intriguingly, Ingeborg used the English method, unlike her daughter (and subsequent generations) who were/are Continental knitters. I was taught to knit by my great-grandmother who was an important influence upon my life. She would knit long strips of garterstitch and sew them together into huge throws (and as I am writing this, I am awaiting a parcel from Denmark containing one of her huge, colourful throws). She would normally use whatever she had to hand – my momse had raised eighteen children through the 1930s and 1940s, and had very little time for anyone complaining about fibres or colours: if it kept you warm, you better be happy (and keep quiet about blue not being your favourite colour).
My grandmother has influenced me more than anyone else. Whenever I am with her, we make things. Arthritis has sadly put a stop to most of her creative endeavours, but she is a wonderfully multi-facetted crafter: sewing, knitting, crocheting, hardanger-embroidery, cross-stitching, and .. I can think of at least five other crafts she has tried.
She started knitting me pullovers and cardigans when I was a baby and, well, she has only stopped now due to her arthritis. My grandmother made me the pullover I am wearing in the picture below. I think I am about six years old in the photo. She favours cables and textures above all other things, although she is also extremely fond of fair-isle knitting, and as Gran has never done lace knitting, I made her a lace shawl for Christmas (it was very well-received).
The most important craft lesson she has taught me? You can make it yourself.
My mother is no less crafty, although she channels her creative energy into other things such as gardening and writing. Mum crochets more than she knits and she tends towards making things for her home: table cloths, napkins and doilies. I think I get my love of delicate projects from her, as she prefers extremely fine/small-gauge work to quick projects. Her attention to details is legendary.
I do not remember when I was taught to knit or crochet, but I know that all my life I have been Making Things (and now I live with someone who also Makes Things). As a child I would knit fair-isle pullovers for my dolls(!) and made quite good pocket-money selling dolls’ clothes to the neighbourhood kids. As a teenager I was mostly caught up in crocheting (and calligraphy, but that is another story) and made myself some, ahem, interesting pullovers. I abandoned knitting and crocheting for almost a decade, but rediscovered my roots when I found myself with some unexpected downtime. Nowadays I cannot imagine myself not creating things with my hands. It calms me and strengthens me in often surprising ways.
And, most of all, I am a fifth-generation* crafter and I feel connected to my family history every time I pick up my needles.