Sunday, 19 June 2011

G is for Grannies

A faded photo of my Gran "Nana" in her Dorset garden

Nana was a magical crocheter who could just look at a picture and recreate it.  She crocheted clothes for all her six babies without ever using a pattern, at the same time helping to run a working farm through the war.  She cooked for twelve (family and farm workers) every day.  She had  been a piano teacher (absolutely adored Liberace) and as a girl had regularly driven one of the first motor taxis in her part of Dorset - a Model T Ford.  Only one piece of her work ever came to me, a linen tablecloth with beautiful filet crochet edging which, since I don't have children, I passed to a younger cousin when she married.

Nowadays, knowing how interested I am in crafts, people bring to me the things their grannies leave behind.  I find it a little sad that families may have no interest in the little pieces of work and UFOs which gave their gran such pleasure and try always to use these, or pass them on to someone who can. 
very curly stocking stitch patches
A friend recently had to arrange for her granny to move into a home as she was becoming so confused she could no longer look after herself.  Some of her crafting came my way.  The picture above shows about 55 rectangles mostly knitted in stocking stitch using 2 and 3 strands of cotton double knit in an extraordinary variety of colours.  I don't know what the intention was, but I have started to crochet around them in 2 strands of black cotton double knit to get them to flatten out.  It's playing hell with my knitter's elbow.

A sample of the edged patches, not yet joined or embellished
I hope to join these patches into a throw which I will embellish, perhaps with small buttons or with small crocheted flowers to break up the density of the black. It may end up just looking weird, but if it works out (and my elbow stands the strain) this will go back to my friend whose granny, I'm happy to say, is having a wonderful time in her new home.

Patchwork UFO with lots of patches ready to be added
With the knitted squares came a partly completed patchwork cover in lovely bright colours.  Looks like some 70's fabrics in there.  It's a long time since I did patchwork and I'm not sure my stitching is up to this standard, but I might give it a go.

Other things that have come my way from other grannies include lots of knitting bags, accessories, knitting needles and yarns.  I've passed a lot of this on to other knitters.  I've been given stacks of old Stitchcraft and Needlewoman magazines going back to before the war.  These I cherish.  Then there are the well used, faded old knitting patterns like the one below.  Torn almost in half and tattered around the edges, I can't part with this.  I think it tells a story.  If you look carefully at the background you can see the palm trees and the tank.  My generation's grannies lived through some extraordinary times and were extraordinary people.

Wartime Bestway Pattern for Tropical Service Socks
Clearer view of the tank in the background


pinkundine said...

Though it is a shame that people don't always cherish things left behind, at least they pass them on to someone who will, I guess in a way that's better :)

Charlotte said...

Very kind of you to take the time to finish both the knitted squares and the cover! I completely understand you wanting to keep those patterns, they are a real piece of history!

lyndagrace said...

What a lovely post. I attend my estate sales and am also baffled by how families just want to get rid of everything. They don't seem to understand that what may seem like junk or stuff to them was once very much treasured by Grannie. I especially don't understand why they would not want to hold onto and pass down lovingly hand crafted treasures.

Christine said...

I often wish my nana had lived until I was a bit older...she died when I was in school & yet to develop my love of crafts. She was the crafter in the family & I'm sure we could have shared some special times together. I suppose her knitting/sewing things have long since gone.

witchyknits4ewe said...

I loved your post - very touching! I had a Nanny who knit but my Aunt (her daughter, my mom's sister) was the one who taught me. She had made beautiful things though. Thanks for a mini trip down memory lane!

Sara said...

Amazing. How has a generation lost interest in craft? Or am I being overly dramatic/depressing?

Cris said...

loved this blog!

Napiligal said...

What a great post. How kind of you to do something with those squares, Loved the WWII pattern.
My French mom lived in France, near Paris, during the war and often said that "The English were the bravest people" referring to the blitz that occurred almost nightly.
I am enjoying all the post for the folks in England, especially when they mention their homes. You'res sounds lovely. Chalk?

Julie said...

Yep, Chalk. Built between 1700 and 1750. Built up by ramming it into very hard layers and making very thick walls. Lots like this around Wiltshire. It's a very hard wearing material as long as you treat it right.

Mrs H Knits said...

Fantastic post and good on you for making the throw to pass back, I pray your elbow holds out that is a precious thought.

GirlAnachronismE said...

What amazing things, and it's so lovely that you can not only use and cherish what you are given, but can also make something out of it for your friend, which she will also love. The most I have is my great-grandma's and gran's knitting needles, and I'm hoping to get my Granny's tapestry frame. All the rest was given or thrown away.