My mother refused to teach me to knit, to sew or to cook, yet knitting has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. She was one of the women who was never without some handwork to keeping her busy. I have memories from my childhood of fabric, yarn, paint brushes and flowers all muddled together.
Mom was a florist who earned her livelihood with both boring and creative designs of flowers. She was artist who had to create beauty in whatever she did. There were births, deaths and weddings, anniversaries all waiting to be celebrated with flowers and she brought to life the dreams of her clients 'to say it with flowers'.
When she was not doing this, there was a sewing machine set up in the shop where she made all our clothes, dolls outfits etc. She seldom had a pattern. I could show her a picture from a magazine and she would make me a dress to match it. There were sixties faux leather mini skirts and boleros, sundresses, and ball gowns for all the dances I attended at boarding school. I never realised how blessed I was until I had to go out later in life and buy store garments that did not fit.
She hated knitting yet made the most beautiful aran jumpers for the entire family. She had a knitting machine and lots of other knitwear was produced on this. I can remember going to visit Auntie Pixie on the farm where the two of them would set up their machines side by side and spend a Saturday afternoon knitting together whilst I roamed the farm or watched the cows being milked.
I grew up immersed in all this craft not really absorbing the beauty of the objects created. It was just part of every day life. Next door to the florist was a haberdashery that stocked yarn. I visited Mrs Steadman's shop often as I grew up to choose yarn for various school projects. I seldom made any of them as my mother would work on them week by week, changing the tension to make them look as though I had made them. I showed little interest.
The irony to all this is that now I am an avid crafts woman. My mother's skills must have transferred to me through osmosis. She died not long after I married as a 'child' bride. She lived long enough to meet and become besotted with her grandchildren to make them the most beautiful clothes. She made my son and my daughter a new birthday outfit every year. They loved them.
R in her last party dress Gran made
I had to teach myself to sew and to knit in the early years of my marriage as she lived over 1000 kilometres away and could not help. I was so grateful that I did. When she left our lives, she left me a legacy to continue. Every year when I made the children's birthday outfits, she sat with me, inspiring me with her love for my family, to continue the traditions that she had started.
The Queen of Hearts and Robin Hood made by me
We all remember this with such joy and delight. That is exactly what she would have wanted for us. Without her work around me as I grew up, I would not have the wonderful skills that I have learnt now.