It seems a long time …


I had been doing an on-line survey (I do quite a few) and one of the questions was to do with hobbies. The question asked which was my favourite hobby at the present time. It then expanded on that question into “why, when, where, how long” and a few other questions, which I cannot remember. It got me thinking though, that I have never really taken the time to write down the why, when, where, how long. So here goes.

Its going a long way back to when I was about 7 years old, around 1962/1963. We used to go to my maternal grandmothers regularly and althoughFamous Five there was quite a lot for us youngsters to play with, I often got bored. I suppose it may have been due to the fact that I was the oldest and I possibly thought that I was above these childish games my other brothers were playing. There were always books to read. Mostly by Enid Blyton, but at 7 years old ‘Famous Five’ and ‘Secret Seven’ books were a little too advanced for me yet.

I became fascinated by the way my grandmother could turn a ball of ‘wool’ into a Needles and yarnjumper, a cardigan, a scarf and even a pair of socks! All done with what looked like a couple of sticks. She would sit there, by the fire “click-clacking” away, often without even looking at what she was doing. Only stopping to take another drink from her cup of tea (didn’t do coffee in those days) or to light another cigarette. I have to say, she was also an excellent seamstress and embroiderer. But it was the knitting that held my attention most, and one day I asked if she could show me how to knit. That’s when it started. She cast on 20 stitches for me and showed me the basic knit stitch. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I got there in the end.

It then became the job of my mother, to show me more. Mum showed me how to cast on and cast off, how to increase and decrease and, most importantly, how to do the purl stitch. I then began to pick up a lot of the other stitch types that I use today.

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By 1965, I was knitting quite advanced stuff for my age. My parents were foster carers, and took on new born babies that were being put up for adoption. Not to get into too finer detail, many of these babies were to unmarried mothers. Quite often they were under 16 and a great deal were from poorer family background. So often the children came with whatever clothes had been donated to the hospital. So between me and my mum, we took on the task of knitting clothes for these kids. My first efforts were simple mittens and bootees, but I quickly graduated in to knitting hats/bonnets. Within a few weeks, I was tackling cardigans and, what used to be called romper suits.

This new found hobby carried on for a few years, although it was never mentioned outside the house. I cannot imagine what my schoolmates would have thought/said about my hobby. I drifted out of it when I started work, for no particular reason really but got back into it a little when I met my wife. It lasted a couple of years (the knitting that is) and again it fell out of favour.

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It then took about 35 years before I picked up the needles again. I saw in a magazine, a picture of some daffodils that had been knitted by someone. They looked really impressive and I thought I would give it a go again. I still hadSo far so good all my needles and bits and pieces and was only short of the yarn. I bought some cheap acrylic double knit, in yellow and white from the Pound shop and got going. It took a couple of attempts and restarts to get the first one done, but I soon had a bright yellow daffodil. I was hooked again. More flowers followed, then headbands before moving on to beanie hats.

Now that the eldest and his partner are having a child, I’m back to knitting my favourite, baby stuff again. It’s come full circle and I’m feeling the love once again. Only issue now, is that my ‘stash’ as it is called, does not have yarn that is right for baby clothes!

Cut price knitting …


We visit charity shops quite often. Wetherby has ten charity shops that I know about and there may possibly be another one. Often when we go, I’m on the lookout for knitting yarn. I don’t need any as my wife will confirm, but if it’s a bargain, then I’m up Wetherby (2)for it. Trouble is, yarn does not seem to be very cheap in these type of shops. Most have some, but it is usually small amounts of left-overs and you never know what type it is (unless you’re a real expert). You can usually tell if its wool or acrylic, but without the band, I wouldn’t know if it was Aran or Double Knit. So although I look, I rarely buy any.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in one of the really popular shops and noticed that there was a bag of yarn that had five new balls and a couple of end scrap balls. It was very reasonably priced Yarnespecially for the amount at £3.50. I was tempted, really tempted and had almost decided when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I stood up and turned round, thinking it was my wife. Turned out to be a rather well dressed lady who was holding one of those long women’s cardigans that were fashionable some years ago. She smiled and asked if the yarn I was looking at was for me. I told her it was, but I wasn’t sure if to buy it. She handed me the cardigan and told me that this was a better buy. I was about to say that I didn’t want a cardigan, when she pre-emptied my thoughts. “You can get this cardigan for only £3.99. It has about 10 times the wool you have there, and there is a wash-care label still inside!” she said. She then explained how she never bought wool in charity shops and only every bought made-up woollen clothes which she would unpick (I think the term is frogging) and re-use.

It sounds a brilliant idea, but I’m not sure if I could ever “rip back” or “frog” such a large piece of clothing.

A good tip …


For a few months now, I’ve been scouring the local charity shops in search of a yarn bowl. I have wanted one for a while, but am reluctant to pay £30 to £40 pounds for a new one. I’ll probably endYarnBowl up making my own using “air drying” clay, but thought if I could pick one up for between £5 and £10 it would be much easier.

Now, to come to the point. I rarely if ever buy yarn from charity shops, as it is often quite pricey for what you get. You never really know what you are buying unless they still have the wrappers. However, last week I found a bundle that had five 100g balls, with their wrappers. It was a nice ivory colour and was reasonably priced at only £3.50. I was tempted when I received a tap on the shoulder. I turned and there was a lady with a large cardigan in her hands. It was the same colour as the yarn I was looking and was priced the same.

“Never buy loose wool,” she said. “If you buy this cardi’ and pull it all out, you’ll have at least four times the wool. It’s what I always do.” I had to admit it, I had never thought of it before and it did make sense. So that’s what I look for now. What I would do if I did find something in the type and colour I wanted, I couldn’t say. Could I really buy something and pull it all out? It’s hard to say.