Sunday, 24 March 2013

After all the unwanted excitement

of the week it was almost a relief to head off to the library yesterday. I am usually in there twice a week, sometimes more often but I had not been there for over a week.
I was greeted like a long lost traveller and told they were calling off the search party. Search party?
It is nice to be wanted - or it would be if they wanted me for myself rather than for something I could do for them. But, I was there for the knitting group. 
We had to open the fold back doors again. There were nineteen people there - and two more called in briefly. 
I wondered if our very young knitter would turn up. I had remembered to bring a book I thought she might be able to use. It is, unlike many knitting books for children, more realistic than most. It has small objects in it, a headband, covers for mobile phones, a simple bag etc etc...all in just plain garter stitch. (Knitters will know what I am talking about.) You can make something in a relatively short period of time - and then actually use it. 
I had a knitting booklet when I was little older than the very young knitter. It was called "Knitting for the Junior Miss". It was a small size Patons booklet. I paid for it out of my own pocket money. It was the only thing available unless I wanted one of the very grown up pattern books in the haberdashery store not far from where my paternal grandparents lived.  
I can remember handing over my money and watching the coins being sent on a small "flying fox" arrangement to the far end of the store. The pattern books were in a pile on that counter and the wool was lined up in boxes next to it. 
I had been allowed to spend the money because I had just managed to learn the purl stitch. My mother thought I was wasting the money but I wanted the book.
In some ways it was a disappointment. The projects in it included jumpers and cardigans, socks on four needles and other impossibilities. I would never have been allowed to buy the wool for any of those projects even if I had been given enough money - but I could dream. 
There was one project in there I thought I could manage and my grandmother thought I could manage too. It was a striped beanie. I made it for my brother - and he wore it for several years. Then my middle sports mad sister nabbed it and it was lost somewhere on a dusty rural football field. I was not impressed. Neither was my brother. He made another one for himself at school. All the boys were taught to knit that year. 
I still have the booklet. It is slightly battered by now but I went on and used it. I eventually made the cardigan and the two jumpers and the baby booties and my first pair of socks all from that booklet. It was useful - but not until I was well into my teenage years. All through that time I had my paternal grandmother to refer to and I wonder now whether I was following the book or following her advice. She did not need patterns. She would look at them but she did not follow them.
I wonder now about that book. It was probably intended for teenage knitters but I wonder how many of them were put off by what was really just patterns originally written for experienced adult knitters - in a different form. 
Later I borrowed a book from the Children's Lending Service that was a little better but not much more realistic in terms of the amount of knitting - unless you count jumpers for teddy bears. I did not own a teddy bear.
The little knitter turned up. She had knitted a piece about 7cms wide and 20cms long. I showed her the book and told her she could borrow it. There was a "thankyou!" and a grin. She sat next to her mother and looked carefully through the book. 
      "I could do that...and that...and I can make that one...and.."
There were at least five projects that were possible. All of them would take less than a ball of wool. She looked up and grinned at me again and wriggled in excitement. 
After that she concentrated on adding a stripe to her knitting. 
Stripes are a good idea. You can see your knitting grow. 


Anonymous said...

In 1960 my grandmother arranged to buy for me "And so to sew" by the (UK) Needlework Development Service. A special book, not available in the local book shop! I had borrowed it from a public library and wanted my own copy. I was 12.

Looking at it today, I wonder who it was aimed at, as some of the models are children and others adult. It clearly explains sewing, making patterns from diagrams, some embroidery (and mending) along with information on fabrics, pressing, etc. Adult sizes are bust 32 or 34 inches and hips 36 inches. (Those were the days!)

I used it a lot to make dolls' clothes and then some of my own. It is still a good reference for techniques such as zip insertion.

Does anyone know what has happened to the NDS?


jeanfromcornwall said...

I was taught to knit at school at about age eight - the boys learned too. We used to knit for the last hour of school, once or twice a week, while Miss read to us. - something like "Just So Stories" I hated knitting for it's slowness, but then in my teens my Mother found a pattern on large needles and tempted me - I'll buy the wool if you want to have a go. That got me hooked.
Anything that gets the beginner to finish something successfully is so helpful, and when in the bookshop, I used to try and keep something on the shelf that would help youngsters.