Monday, 7 October 2013

Clearing out the other cupboard

belonging to our local knitting Guild was interesting. We had to move the cupboard to a shed at the rear of the building we meet in and it seemed to offer an occasion for a clear out.
I doubt we can make more room in the cupboard that serves as "the library". This was the only opportunity to find more space.
I have already, much to the alarm of some members of the group, removed the magazines that are more than ten years old. We put the old ones out on the table - for sale at a mere 50c each. Nobody wanted them although they had complained about not keeping them in the library. I refuse to worry about such things. They left the building and a charity shop welcomed them.
The other cupboard has held the paperwork - Guild Minutes and correspondence which must be kept. Old accounts. We disposed of those not required to be kept by law. The "pattern booklets" the Guild has printed in the past. I long to dispose of those as they are not only out of date but poorly produced but, beloved by some members, they remain there.
There are old knitting needles. I handed those over to someone to sort and (mostly) discard. The sound system which has never worked properly. We can't discard that but it should be fixed. The real problem is not the sound system but the hearing loss among older members and the fact that many people do not know how to speak to a room full of people. 
There were odds and ends used for exhibitions. Yes, useful. I put them back.
Then, crammed in tight on the bottom shelf, was the rest of the "old stuff". For me it was a treasure trove but it has not been touched in years. I did not know it was there. I had, wrongly, assumed, it was the minutes and the newsletters from the past but of course I had found that on the upper shelves.
I opened up a folder...old knitting patterns. I do not mean the sort of thing you might find in the local charity shop. I mean old enough to have some historical value. Some of this dated from the 1920's. It is more than 80 years old.
My enthusiasm for it was not shared. "Nobody will ever knit any of that!" No, perhaps not.
I looked at other folders. There were similar items in them. There was a folder full of material from World War II with items to knit for the armed services.
The garments seem to take very small amounts of yarn. Certainly people were smaller then but the amounts still seem small. Of course the knitting is done with much finer yarn and needles. Look closely at the patterns and you realise that people embarked on projects that took much more time than the modern knitters is usually prepared to give.
"Did people actually knit that stuff?" someone asked me.
"They had to," I explained, "It was much harder to buy things ready made. Most women had to make their own clothes or have them made. You didn't just walk into a shop and buy something cheaply made in China or Bangladesh."
She looked at me in disbelief and said, "They must have had more time."
I don't think it was that at all. They actually had fewer "labour-saving" devices and there were no ready prepared meals of takeaway. Not all women went out to work of course but some did and they still managed to get things done.
I suspect they caught the bus or tram or train to work. They would have knitted then and in the evenings while listening to the radio or reading. Now people drive a car to work and watch television - and only some of us knit.
They didn't want the treasure trove. I am going to offer it to a home where it will be appreciated.

4 comments:

Helen Devries said...

It's sad about the treasure trove...but at least you know of a good home.

virtualquilter said...

That would have been so much fun, educational, and just plain interesting!

catdownunder said...

It is sad Helen - sad, that people don't seem to even want to know about history.
Judy, I'll save a couple of gems for you for November if you are coming up.

Janet O'Kane said...

I volunteer in a local charity shop, sorting out donated goods. We get a lot of knitting patterns donated as elderly relations' homes are cleared when they pass away, and I'm always fascinated by the past they depict. Recently we received what has to be the saddest donation ever: a beautiful knitting bag with a piece of half-finished work inside, stopped mid-row.