My Mum used to knit professionally for a local designer, Hermione Spencer (possibly named after one of Churchill’s daughters?). From memory she mostly worked with mohair although was famed for her ability to knit a baby tanktop, including name, in a single afternoon. OK, maybe “famed” is stretching it a bit…
My Mum is quite ‘crafty’ and I think she enjoyed the act of creating something unique from scratch. Each jumper was similar but not, I don’t think, identical, and so they sold as premium items all over the world. My Mum and my Aunt Anne would sit there, day in day out, knitting away, the clitter clatter of the needles soon lost in the background noise, earning a pittance in comparison to the price of the garments they were creating, but every little helped back then.
It was pretty handy in the winter though, and I still have the red arran jumper, previously my Dad’s, that my Mum knitted (she knitted me a cream one as well, when they were in fashion, but it has since been lost to the ravages of the washing machine). There are also memories of being dragged round the ‘wool shop’, a colourful world of fabulous colours and textures, weird and wonderful implements, and shelves running to the ceiling stacked with balls of wool, usually neatly arranged by colour. A veritable rainbow of wool and yarn. There was a lot of wool on cones as well, a sure sign that an evening would be spent in slavedom, helping to ball the wool. Fingers together, thumbs up, arms apart as the wool flicked off your hands, left right, left right.
Then there was Hermione. Last of a kind I fear, “from” money and with that hint of eccentricity that can only be gained in the right social standings. She had a wonderfully haughty accent which I’ve rarely heard since, and I used to rush down from my bedroom on her arrival, just to hear her speak. I think it was slightly affected though, and the same happened to my Mum when she appeared on TV in a feature about the local knitting industry. Filmed at Hermione’s grand house in the country, my Mum and my Aunt Ann sat either side of the fireplace (not unlike a pair of wally dugs) my sister aged four playing at their feet. My Mum was interviewed by Louise Bachelor and replied in a strangely eccentric voice that I’d never heard before, nor have I since. All that was missing was … hmmm hang on.. WAS our golden retriever there? Or was it one of Hermione’s labradors?
Memories indeed. Coughing up furr-balls of Mohair, watching my Mum design and create these wonderful patterns and colour schemes, and using her knitting needles as swords. Memories.
Editors Note: This is all from memory and is probably not all accurate. I’m sure my Mum will have something to say, no doubt in correction, and to her I say this: Remember that GMC jumper. Primary colours only. Now THAT was a jumper (must try and dig out a photo of that!).