It was snowing heavily all day Saturday. The snow fall was so hard the other side of the lake disappeared. I stayed in the whole day. Wandered around, looked out of the window every now and then, sighed and wandered some more. I don't remember what I was searching from that particular drawer when I came across a brown torn envelope with old pictures in it.
There were pictures of people who I know and those I don't, mostly black and white pictures, only a few colored ones. Due to this snow fall and nothing interesting to do I spent some time with the pictures. And soon became aware of the fact that there were lots of handknits items in them. Items that we consider luxurious were a must just few decades ago. Items that were used daily outside and inside, to school and to work as well as at home. Yet they were exquisite.Look at this little boy... The picture is from the 1960's. He is wearing a colorwork handknit yoke sweater and handknit mittens - the mittens have had some wear and appear quite raggy and he has almost outgrown the sweater. How beautiful the sweater must have been, too bad you can't get a good look of it because of the picture quality.
I have never seen any of the knits in the pictures in real life (except some very old baby items) because they were used up completely. When a child outgrew a sweater or it was not usable to the wearer any more, the sweater was ripped out and made into something else. There were other pictures of that boy where he was lying on the ground with that beautiful sweater. Mothers, Grandmothers and Aunts that made these lovely knits for the children then must have realized how hard wear the knit was going to get and how soon it was going to be too small, and yet they spent all these long hours knitting them.
If I knit a colorwork yoke sweater I'll keep saving it for better occasions. What better occasions? Think about the sweater the boy is wearing... Since it was wool it could absorb lots of moisture and still keep him warm. He looks quite content in the picture. This sweater was not considered to be a piece of art work but a useful and warm piece of clothing. He did not use it only on Sundays to show to other people how skillful the maker had been and it did not get folded into the closet for the other six days of the week. It was used because it was valuable and necessary for him. He probably had only that one. Hopefully there was already another one for him on the needles ...
Knitting is a fantastic hobby. And to most of us it is not only a hobby but a way to think and a means to meditate and then survive. But this picture had me thinking of what would I knit if I had to make knit items a part of the must have and must wear. What kind of yarn choices would I make? How much more would I value my yarn and my skill? How much more would other people appreciate it?
But this is another era. We need different things. I know we leave lots of beautiful knits behind, let's hope they are not all unused and that our knits make their way into other pictures than only to the ones that appear on the blog pages.
I sincerely hope that this one you see here is going to get a good amount of wear and will have holes in it eventually and then have some hard working hands mending it all over again until there isn't much to mend any more. Then I would know that I had knit something really valuable.(These are going to be stockings (my own design) - again! - the yarn is English Sunbeam st. ives with 80 % wool/20% polyamide.)