I found myself a little stunned the other day when I realised that I’ve been knitting for almost twenty years. Considering I’m only 26, I feel like that’s quite an achievement, and it kind of reiterates to me why knitting is such an important part of my life.
Of course, there were periods in that time when I didn’t knit, when things like exams, boys and planning for the future got in the way, but I would always come back to it. Granted, I wasn’t very good for a long time, but that’s how we grow, right?
Now, I can’t really talk about my knitting history without introducing the lady who inspired it all – my beautiful Nannie. For as long as I can remember, my Nannie would always knit, but never for herself. She was forever making lovely clothes for babies and children; jumpers and cardigans with the most intricate patterns, and she always did it well. I learned later in life that most of these ended up in a shop in Scotland where they were sold in support of charities, which just makes my heart feel so full.
Then there were the tiny outfits she made for our Barbie dolls! We always loved to dress our dolls up in clothes that no one else would have. Maybe that’s what inspired me to love all things unique?
Some of my most treasured possessions to this day were made for me by my Nannie; a cropped batwing jumper (I used to love channelling those 80s vibes!) and the cosiest knitted socks to keep my toes warm in the winter. Sadly, both of those things are beige, a colour I’ve lost a lot of fondness for, but the sentiment will never waiver.
It was my wonderful Nannie who taught me to knit, all those years ago, and who was on hand whenever I needed some advice. She taught me all of the new abbreviations I came across in knitting patterns and helped me when I dropped or gained a stitch. And more than that, she inspired me to become the knitter that I am today.
I have a hazy memory of the first thing I ever knit. I can’t remember how old I was, exactly, but I have this snippet in my mind of standing by the sofa next to the kitchen doorway trying it on. ‘It’ was a big, messy, garter stitch rectangle that I’d sewn together and confidently called a boob-tube. I don’t think it ever saw the outside world, and I’m glad of that, but it sparked something in me that I’ll never be able to shake – my desire to create.
Over the years I’ve gone through phases with my knitting. The time I would only knit berets. That summer I quit my job and honestly thought I could make a living off knitted collars. When a random link shared on Facebook led me to furiously knit jumpers for penguins in Australia. All of the Innocent Smoothie hats that never got posted (they will this year though, so expect a call to action soon!). The Christmas I decided that everyone would get socks, yet only managed to make one pair.
More recently, jumpers knit from 80s pattern books found in charity shops that I’ve already grown to dislike, rip up and start again. And now, an understanding of what I really want from a knit – timelessness and an expression of my personal style.
I’m moving beyond knitting only the things that I think I can manage, I’m challenging myself and creating my own patterns – something I never thought I’d do. And I’m excited. So excited. For the present, for the future, and for what my knitting history will look like in another twenty years, or even just one.