My Bonus Mum's Knitting Heritage

Fiona is my bonus Mum. Her official title, given to her by society, is my “mother in law” but she is so much more than that. She is my friend and my teacher. She’s a constant inspiration to me and is one of my two knitting heros (the other being my Gran). I asked her to write her knitting story to discover more about my knitting ancestry, to preserve her knitting heritage and discover more about her relationship with Knitting.

Foreword written by Rachel Stewart (Woolly Gran)

My Knitting Heritage

Written by Fiona Stewart

There was always knitting on the go in my family home. When I was introduced into my future husband’s family as a school girl, I also soon spied my mother in law to be had current knitting projects by her fireside armchair. Furthermore, both our relatives young and old regularly wore hand knitted garments.

So, I guess it seemed a natural  progression to learn the craft for myself and hope what I made turned out to be wearable!

I don’t remember how old I was at my earliest attempt but I vividly remember the 6 inch long plastic knitting needles, the little bag I carried them and my wool around in, and the very ziggy-zaggy knitting I produced. With something like only 6 stitches on my needles, I can’t begin to imagine now how I ended up with something that wavy growing inch by inch, but it was never straight.

I also don’t remember how I moved on from those very flawed beginnings to completing my first full garment but I did knit a very smart, if plain, yellow V-neck which I wore proudly in my mid teen years and in public.

Mum was a very careful knitter and I don’t remember her ever having to rip back knitting because of mistakes which I regularly do, mainly because I like to knit and watch TV.

Mum could do all sorts of styles from fine lacy items to warm winter woollens. She carefully followed intarsia patterns and produced Thomas, Turtles and Ghostbuster themed jumpers for her grandchildren.

Knitting holes is no problem for me and I do it with dropped stitches regularly. Knitting them where they are meant to be as part of a lacy pattern is quite another matter and something I realise is never going to be successful or satisfying. So, I don’t even attempt it now.

What I love are interesting yarns and garment shapes so that is mainly what I aim to do. However, I have done a bit of cabling and have just completed my first fully patterned aran cable knit. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge although there were a good few rip backs on the way when I clearly was not paying full attention.

I have also found out that it is much more enjoyable knitting for other people than for myself and my “children” seem happy enough to keep my needles clacking away with their knitting requests. They generally even wear the least in my company anyway.

For many years while my family were young, and then while I was working full-time, knitting was a rare pastime.

When my Mum became seriously ill and subsequently died after a short time in hospital, I turned to knitting as a comfort and a distraction.

Now, 12 years on from that and two years into retirement, it feels like a valid craft to spend however long I choose any time, any day.