My mother was a beautiful knitter. From early childhood, I loved to watch the way she held the needles and wound the wool around her little finger. She made jumpers and cardigans for her mum and sisters, herself and me. When I was ten, I asked for needles and wool. Amazingly, it was my dad who taught me to knit…left handed. All three of us were left handed, but Mum and I learned to write with our right hand.
Mum realized I was keen, so with her guidance I swapped to my right hand, and she taught me to read patterns. I knitted small scarves and ‘blankets’ for my dolls, and wrapped them in Christmas paper to be opened on Christmas morning. At eleven, I began a jumper for myself but didn’t finish it.
When I was twelve, I taught Gwenny, my best friend, what I knew about knitting, and together we started knitting ourselves a beanie. The pattern had a long tail and a pompom on the end. The finished beanies came close to the pattern but not exactly.
You see, it was a Friday night during school holidays, Gwenny was staying at my place and we planned to go to the Saturday matinee at the Coronet Theatre. I wanted us to wear our new beanies but they weren’t finished. Gwenny agreed to stay up late, but Mum finally drew the line and made us go to bed. It seemed as if our special achievement would not happen. As novices we couldn’t knit as fast as Mum, who would have delighted in leaving the finished beanies at the foot of our bed. There was no way I would let her help us. “This is Gwenny’s and my project,” I insisted. “We’ll succeed or fail together.”
The next morning we woke early and Gwenny took out her knitting. “We still have time,” she said. The pictures would start at 2:00 pm and we needed to leave the house on our pushbikes at 1:30.
We went without breakfast and, clickety-clack, the tails on our beanies grew, slowly. By midday it was clear we would not reach the recommended length. I decided we should stop knitting and make the poms-poms and then see how much time we had left. With the pom-poms in hand, we looked at attaching them, but the tails weren’t tapered. I said, “We have to start decreasing now.” Gwenny agreed, and we jumped to the end of the pattern. At 1:15 pm we were sewing on the pom-poms. Then with only a quick wash, we dressed and scoffed down a sandwich, because Mum wouldn’t let us go without it.
Mum grabbed the camera saying this was an important moment. So, proudly we stood at the back door, Gwenny, (in tartan) and me, wearing our short, long tailed beanies; our achievement recorded for posterity.
I don’t remember the name of the pictures we watched that day, but I’ll never forget Gwenny and the time we shared knitting our first garments together.
To this day, I am still knitting; now with the help of Spitzli.
Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your story and photos with us. You may learn more about Wendy at:
Wendy's Blog, My Imagination
And on FaceBook