I was fortunate enough when I was growing up to live next door to my grandparents. They were the kinds of grandparents you hear about in story books. The ones where Granddad lets you steal fresh peas from his vege garden and helps you build snowmen in winter, and Grandma bakes your favourite cookies and calls you her ‘treasure’.
I spent countless hours sitting next to Grandma’s chair listening her to tell me stories of when she was young and watching her work. Her hands were never still. Constantly in motion as she embroidered, crocheted or knitted. I watched in fascination and marveled at her skill. I still have the pretty pastel coloured scarf she made me when I was 4 years old and moving to a place where it snowed. I remember the green crochet vest I begged for to match my party skirt at 9 years old. The batwing sweater that she knitted in a week when I was a moody teenager.
As I grew older she taught me some basics. I was never patient enough, but finally managed to learn enough to be able to cast on, knit and purl, and cast off. Over the years I tried many different crafts, but somehow always picked up the needles again at different points in my life.
Hidden in the bottom of a storage box is the sweater that Mum and I worked on together. A wonderful example of the importance of gauge with sleeves I knitted that are way too big for the body that Mum made to fit.
I knitted again when my niece was born, because neither her grandmother or great-grandmother was alive to do it. Every baby should have something handmade, even if it is by an auntie who has no idea how to sew up the sweater she made.
After a car accident left me with a concussion that lasted for months, and ruined my career leaving me unable to work, I walked into a yarn shop desperate for something to do. The steadily growing full length cable coat meant that I had achieved something that day.
I’m still not brave enough to tackle an entire sweater for my husband even though he has picked the yarn. He’ll have to make do with the garter stitch scarf that I made in pure alpaca which doubles in length as he wears it.
Finally I knitted again, for my own daughter. A chubby cheeked toddler who had outgrown the handknitted baby gifts from my best friend and her mother.
And as I sit wrapped in the granny square blanket my grandmother crocheted, I realise that yarn has been woven into the strands of my life. Sometimes it has been therapy, sometimes it has been comfort. It is always an inspiration, but above all, I know that yarn is love.