One of my overriding memories from childhood is my Mum sitting in a chair, her needles clicking and the shape of a woollen garment – scarfs, jumpers, cardigans – emerging like magic row by row. As a teenager I, too, learned to knit. It was something that we just did, creating objects from loops of wool. I started with a knitting doll – those strange wooden objects shaped like a person with a hole running through them head to toe, and four little spiked rods on the head like a crown. I used to make long woollen ropes which I spiralled around into a coaster shape, and these coasters graced my room and others until I left home. Later I moved onto booties and mittens for my eldest sister’s babies, and when I grew more adventurous I made tiny little jackets and impractical little trousers, all from fine baby wool. I wasn’t a great knitter; I couldn’t cable or make lace though I did progress to making little holey patterns in the jackets. I could follow a knitting pattern and I grew dextrous enough with the needles to be able to knit without looking. But I was never as good as my Mum.
Now it is autumn, and my mind turns to knitting again. I want to knit a blanket, construct something unique and personal by making little knitted squares which I can patch together into a soft blanket. I have made forays with knitting before, but it has always fallen by the wayside after one thing or another, often because my visiting Mum has completed the project for me before I had chance to even say ‘wait a moment’. But this time is different. I have found my needles, a ball of soft chunky wool and I am reminding my fingers how to make the stitches. It is awkward. My hands don’t work like they used to. I drop stitches by accident and my tension is all over the place. Yet a pattern of knitting emerges. It is not special, it is not even half-good, but it is mine. I have made it. I examine my stitches, wrought from my awkward little hands, and I feel proud. I am making connections. I connect with the wool and I connect with my younger self. I connect with my mother, who was probably about my age when I first remember her sitting there knitting in the chair. I imagine how she must have felt, how different her life was to mine, and yet somehow the same. We are connected. The needles click. The stitches grow and grow.