Knitting is in my blood. My great-great-grandmother knitted socks, my great-grandmother taught me to knit, my grandmother has never been without a project in her knitting basket and my mother loves knitting socks although she prefers to crochet.
According to my grandmother, my great-great-grandmother, Ingeborg, "threw" her knitting and it was not until I moved to the UK I understood what she meant. Ingeborg knitted in the English manner. I continue to wonder about Ingeborg throwing rather than picking (i.e. the Continental way). Where did she learn a style which is not used in Denmark? Who taught her? I wish I knew more about her.
Now my grandmother has expressed a desire to get "something knitted" from me for Christmas. Gran used to knit sample sweaters for a local yarn shop and you should see the fair isle sweaters she used to knit for me. Of course I cannot find any photos of them (and she gave them all to charity at one point, annoyingly), but I remember them as being stunning. My particular favourite was one knitted in Faroese colourwork (two colours, geometric patterns) in bright red and dark green. I know she still has the pattern and I harbour dreams of recreating it.
On the photo above you can see me aged five or thereabouts. I'm wearing one of Gran's creations: it looks like brioche stitch to me with set-in sleeves. I'll spare you the other photo I found. It was a zipped cardigan with a hood done in lilac. I've always hated zips in knitwear, wearing a hood and the colour lilac. Now I know why. A childhood trauma, clearly.
But what do you knit for a woman whose knitting I have worn since I was a baby?
The obvious answer is lace.
Gran has never knitted much lace, much preferring cables, brioche stitch and colourwork. When I knitted a scarf for my mother last year, Gran kept talking about the fine detailing and the delicate stitches. My family does not do "subtle" very well.
I looked in my stash and uncovered a beautiful hank of Old Maiden Aunt merino/silk in "Gothic". Then I looked at a gazillion lace shawls on Ravelry before deciding to go with a pattern I have used before: the good, old Swallowtail shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. It is one of the prettiest shawl patterns available, I've knit it twice before and know its pitfalls, and I know I can get it done in plenty of time for the holidays even if I'm going to enlargen it slightly (it is a bit dainty).
Think my Gran will like it? I think so.