Sunday 23 March 2014

Passing Knitting Skills On

I don't remember actually learning to knit. I know we had a few lessons at school and my mum could knit, so she probably helped me carry on at home. My two grandmas were both prolific knitters. One, Grandma H, knitted out of necessity. She was a wartime bride and knitting and sewing then were the only affordable ways to clothe your family. When a hole appeared at the elbow you darned it. When a child grew out of a jumper you took it apart for the reusable wool and knitted something else with it. As an adult I inherited her needles and knitting accessories lovingly stored in a well-used corset box.

Grandma H's knitting box
My other grandma, Granny B, had a few more pennies in the bank. I remember her knitting a multitude of dolls for charity. As her only granddaughter I had the pleasure of requesting knitted toys - something that her seven grandsons weren't interested in when they were out of infanthood. My beloved snowman, a copy of the famous cartoon character, stayed with me right up until the end of teenage years. Granny B had run out of white wool near the top and so he had a cream forehead instead, which added to his individuality.

When I was 12 she knitted me a black jumper with white sheep on. How I wish I'd kept it - I'd love to see now how the intarsia looked at the back!

When I took up knitting again as a serious hobby in my late twenties sadly there wasn't anyone for me to learn from in the family. Grandma H had died and Granny B was no longer able to knit due to the ravages of age in her hands. My mum had forgotten her skills. She had been taught by her mum to knit and sew, yet when the mass consumer age reached us and it was cheaper to buy a jumper from M&S than buy the wool and spend the time knitting your own, that's exactly what she did.

That's why I'm so thankful for the internet and the use of short videos to explain knitting skills. Explanations in books can be very confusing: first you have to work out the abbreviations and then try and follow the moves. Even something as seemingly simple as an increase can be done in different ways.

Recently I had a 'brain freeze' when it came to SSK. I tried and tried, pulling it out a few times as I'd obviously done it wrong. There was no-one to ask to remind me. So I logged on to the Deramores knitting tutorials to see how exactly to do SSK. Straight away I realised what I'd been doing wrong. The voiceover was in English and there was no confusion with American-styles of knitting like there can be when I randomly google knitting instructions.

My birthday knitting bag
Whilst I prefer to buy my yarn from independent wool shops where possible, Deramores is great for ordering online, particularly when I need a bulk order. Their frequently-changing special offers are an incentive to increase my 'to knit' list and line up new projects before I've cast-off the item I'm working on!

It was my birthday last week and one friend bought me a comedy knitting needle storage bag. That's what I'll be bequeathing to a relative or friend far ahead in the future. Far sooner than that I'll be pestering my goddaughters to learn to knit so I can show them the ropes. I'm already indoctrinating them by knitting clothes and toys for birthdays and Christmas.

Passing on skills to the next generation is vital to keep the joy of knitting alive - I only wish that I'd kept up knitting when I was a child and had been able to ask my grandmas for their tips and advice. blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. 


  1. Love your grandma's knitting box! I'm trying to figure out what it's actually for...

  2. Some sort of corset that goes around the waist, according to my mum and this web page:

    Thank goodness women aren't expected to wear them nowadays! x


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