Monday, 3 April 2017

Passing time and past times

The clocks in the UK went forward last week and we entered into British Summertime. Unfortunately no-one told the weathermen that we need a little bit less rain and a little bit more heat!
I thought that for this blog post I would turn the clocks back a few years.  I asked all the ladies in the group to tell me a bit about how and when they learned to knit or crochet and who taught them.

I learned to knit when I was 8 and was taught by my aunt, my father's sister.  I remember sitting on my own along the hallway with a pair of very short plastic children's needles and some of her old scrap lengths of wool.  I learned to crochet almost 40 years later thanks to two ladies with whom I worked, Guru Patricia and Mags.  Another friend, the Librarian, had tried unsuccessfully to teach me for years and had given up hope of ever succeeding.

Guru Patricia herself learned to knit when she was about 7 or 8.  Her tutors were her mum and one of her primary school teachers.  In 'big school', at about the age of about 15, a friend taught her to crochet. Guru Patricia is most probably the quietest in the group but then out of the blue she comes out with little gems of crochet wisdom and has skills beyond anyone's dream.
Queen Niqi's mum taught her to knit when she was about 5 or 6 while they lived in Hong Kong (so glamorous!).  Twice Niqi had unsuccessfully tried to learn to crochet but finally cracked it thanks to Mags, Lorna and Catherine Button whilst sitting drinking coffee in the Coffee Bean Deli back in 2011.

Teaching Catherine learned to knit when she was about 6.  She learned in primary school with a lot of help from mum at home.  When Catherine was 8 her gran taught her to crochet a chain but that was as far as the adventure went at that stage.  Later, at uni, Catherine tried again and got as far as granny squares and hexagons which was a tremendous improvement on the previous attempt.  Well done! Over the past two years crochet and knitting have taken on a major part of her life, the projects are rolling off the needles and hooks and it has enabled Catherine to get back in touch with old friends and meet new friends.

Hooking Helena was taught by her mum and granny when she was about 6.  Her granny was always knitting and Helena wanted to be able to do it too.  Helena learned to crochet at he age of 10 during craft time on a Friday afternoon for P6 and P7 pupils.  All through these classes the knitting/crochet was done during the Winter months and sewing and embroidery took over in the Spring.  Carpel tunnel syndrome prevented Helena from knitting and crocheting for a few years so she took up cross stitch.  After surgery the hooks and needles were dusted off and now there is no stopping her.

Elaine, the English teacher, was introduced to knitting and crochet in P6 and P7 at Windsor Hill Primary School.  Girls were dispatched to Mrs Campbell or Miss Crozier to undertake what was loosely termed 'needlework'.  The boys wove baskets elsewhere!
 "Miss Crozier scared me,  She wore a lime green pinafore over her clothes and had rather uneven teeth!  That is probably why I can say that although she introduced me to knitting and crochet, it was my mother who perfected the techniques to prevent me from becoming a nervous wreck.  My first adventure was a bookmark which was plain stitches knitted with blue plastic needles and turquoise wool finished with yellow fringing.  There was obviously a glut of turquoise wool as our next challenge was to knit a turquoise purse with a navy handle and a sky blue button on it."
Elaine says she has never really taken to knitting but that she is currently in the process of completing a Dr Who-type scarf, affectionately known as The Bernard by her friends.  It has been laid across the Brig O'Doon in Scotland and is almost the same length!  Elaine's experiences of crochet were much more pleasant.  Mrs Campbell who wore a brown checked overall and was much more pleasant. Elaine's mum was not so proficient here so Elaine was on her own when producing a cushion cover in chocolate brown, beige and egg yolk yellow hooked into two large squares.  Now some 40 years later Elaine is in the throes (no pun intended) of creating an extended blanket for her better half in the hope that a new blanket will entice him to snooze on the sofa warmly wrapped.

Sheila M was taught to knit in P3, eons ago, and seemingly wasn't very good with loose rows and tight rows intermingling!  A teacher watching closely over her shoulder didn't help.  Sheila started knitting again when expecting her son (now 33) and churned out many matinee coats and cardigans. At the age of 57 her friends persuaded her to take up crochet with many attempts at getting started with hoops and loops - or rather hooks and chains.  Sheila has reverted temporarily to knitting but the hooks and wool are in the background awaiting the pitter patter of tiny feet if her son ever becomes a dad .....

Librarian Evelyn learned to crochet in Windsor Hill Primary School where Mrs Evans was the teacher.  A square cushion was the hoped-for end product and the project was supposed to last a few weeks.  Evelyn went into school the next day having finished it!  Crochet has been a great go-to ever since.  Miss Crozier taught her to knit but Evelyn never really took to it in the same way as she did with crochet which, she says, is much quicker to complete and more enjoyable.


  1. My grandmother taught me to knot when I was about 7, aided by Miss Norah Holdforth, my fabulous teacher at Elwick Road Junior Girls School. My Uni landlady, whose sister owned the Kenilworth woolshop taught me further skills when I was in digs with her [73-73] and my late MIL taught me how to re-knit worn out cuffs. Crochet - my Girls Brigade Captain tried , and failed, in 1969. I produced a hideously knotted pair of tiny baby bootees which may have fitted a sparrow] BUT I finally cracked the hookery in Belfast when I came to Belfast in Nov 2011 and Catherine taught me. I was privileged to visit to the Hookery Group again in 2012. Thank you for sharing both skills AND friendship!!

    1. Aren't all of our stories so similar? We seem to favour one or the other, knitting or crochet. Some of us have tried to learn the skill more than once. It all clicks when you get the right teacher.

  2. This is a gorgeous post. Left-handed June taught right-handed me to crochet left-handed, so now I am of no use to most folk learning, but have a grand old "kak-handed" time of my own!

    1. Your 'kak-handed' crochet as you call it produces very good results. Sorry Mags, you weren't here when I got everyone's stories. Glad you added your story here.

  3. Blog hopping here and I remember miss crozier too from Windsor hill school! She was fierce ! Small world . I still can't crochet but I can knit