The first thing I ever knitted was a dishcloth. It was at junior school, the stern-on-the-outside but soft-on-the-inside Mrs Elliot cast caution and health and safety to the wind, and without so much as a warning about the pointyness of needles and their potential as playground weapons, thrust knitting needles and a ball of thick grey string into our hands, and told us to get on with it. Those were the days.
Fortunately dishcloths do not need to be a prescribed shape, though it’s best not to have too many holes, as I found out when I did my first wash-up and tied knots of unknitted string around the Sunday best fruit dishes, failing to scrape away the residue of Del Monte fruit cocktail and Carnation Milk.
Along with baking and sewing, knitting is making a come-back, we’re all finding our creativity again. Personally I’m glad, I like making things to eat and wear, it feels somehow more satisfying than writing a solid strategy or project plan with milestones and critical paths. Though of course it doesn’t pay as much.
Living near Bradford, which used to be the wool and textile centre of the world, you’d expect to find a few good yarns, even though most of the mills have long since gone. The best of the best is Texere, a quirky mill-cum-shop open just a few hours a week, packed with every colour and weight of wool possible. There’s even coffee and comfy sofas to spend those few hours browsing patterns or, in my case, talking to anyone and everyone, listening to tales of knitting derring-do with chunky needles the size of rolling pins and near misses with the stitch-holders.
I went to look at the colours and get ideas, after all, I hadn’t knitted since just after dishcloth days. The orange mohair in the bargain bucket was calling to me. Why on earth wouldn’t anyone want to knit an orange jumper? And at £1 a ball, well it was criminal not to buy it, even though I hadn’t a clue how much I needed or how to make it into something I could wear. Still, a bargain is a bargain.
It turned out there wasn’t quite enough for a whole jumper, I worked that out before I started, so in my usual make-it-up-as-I-go-along fashion, I added extra colours and twisted in some fine yarn which I’d bought on an impulse with the vague idea of knitting Noel a tie. Still, it’ a one-off, and the cat seems to agree, though he was more interested in sitting on the balls of wool. Maybe next time I’ll use a pattern, I might even stick to it.