I'm procrastinating big time on my last assignment for the semester. In doing so, I've been narcissistically (definitely a word) looking over my posts from my trip to Europe, and it occurred to me how great family is. How great is family? On my trip to the UK I met several family members who are interested in genealogy, something which I have some interest in too. Boy, is it fascinating. How strange that professions seem to run in the family. My mum was a teacher, two of her sisters were teachers, my late paternal grandfather was a university lecturer, and my brother, with teachers on both sides of the family, is a postman. And my sister is a teacher (see what I did there? I suspect there are comedians in my family). I've noticed a similar trend with a tendency to like learning languages (my mum, my sister and me), writing (both my paternal grandparents, all their kids, my brother and me), musicality (so many of us), vegetarianism (auntie, dad, me, cousins, various other temporary ones), and armed service (great uncles on both sides, Grandma and my brother). In my family history, there are stories of convicts being sent to Australia (probably not true, but some went voluntarily later), murderers, and a potential illegitimate ancestry from a famous Scot (either that or an ancestor of mine had a beer with him in a pub. I have heard both stories), and so many other families have so many other fascinating histories.
And you're all like, stop talking about your family, Kat, it's like looking at someone else's holiday slides. Go to bed or finish that assignment. And I'm all like, quiet you, I was going somewhere with this. Give me a chance to finish, will you? And you're all like, how rude, I don't have to take this. And I'm all like, I'm sorry, I'm delusional, I need to sleep but I'm not going to. Now shut up and listen to me ramble.
What I was TRYING to get to, before you so rudely interrupted, was that knitting also runs in my family, notably on my paternal side. My great aunt, who I've mentioned in other posts, is 92 years old and still knitting! I'm so proud! Her sister, who I also met, is keen on cross stitch and used to make teddy bears. I didn't realise until after her daughter (my...first cousin once removed) found this blog, that this aunt and her daughter also love knitting! My aunt said that my great Grandma (the mother of my great aunts and my Granddad), after whom my sister is named, used to knit a lot. Having 10 children, she would knit several copies of the same garment for each child of the appropriate gender to wear. How sweet! This family is all from my Granddad's side, but my Grandma, as I've mentioned many times, was a prolific knitter. Unfortunately for me, I'm one of her youngest grandkids so my strongest memories of her were when she was frail and didn't knit so much. Even so, I remember her teaching my sister to knit, and me of course. I remember her making socks, and latch-hooking rugs. I even remember her knitting a pocket for a cardigan she had bought which had none. I remember thinking "wow, isn't that cool, that she can just DO that?" All four of us (my sister, my brothers and me) had a knitted lamb in a different colour. I remember getting mine at about 3 or 4 and it was purple, which I was perfectly happy with, but it wasn't until I was older that purple became well and truly my favourite colour. I do believe our first dog ate that lamb. I don't blame her, I suspect malice aforethought from her master. *sigh*. Siblings. My oldest brother's security toy (he was the only one of us who was especially attached to a particular toy from early infancy) was a large doll knitted by my Grandma, and my sister had one too. We've still got my sister's doll. Our first dog ate my brother's. I plan to re-create one of those lambs. And my brother's doll too, for his own son, who had better not feed his sister's toys to the dog. So, my Grandma was a big knitter. Her daughter (incidentally after whom I am named) is a knitter, and it was super fun meeting her last year and talking about knitting, plus ALL the other stuff we talked about when I was there. She recently posted a picture of a beautiful baby blanket she's knitted, in cotton and bamboo no less. Beautiful yarns, and I regret that I've been favouring the acrylic lately because I'm cheap. I can dream, though. Then there's me, also knitter. Also my sister, a crocheter (but the crochet could come from the other side of the family. Let's not get into that though.) I recently made some mittens which I'll blog about at some stage. I'll admit that in the craziness of this semester, I was worried I was losing my obsession with knitting. Obsession is a fantastic thing, and I love when I'm in the grips of it. But it has to fade eventually, and there's a danger of it fading completely. Thankfully I don't think knitting ever will stop being a part of my life. It's apparently in my genes. Here is a genogram of all these fibre arts family members (men are added in order to join the dots. I don't hate men, but these particular ones don't knit.
As I write more and more of this blog post, I realise that I might be experiencing some end-of-semester delirium. I presented my research proposal today (well, yesterday) and allI have left is an assignment and a test. Humour me.
So, it occurs to me that I'm all like, oh cool, look at all these knitters in my past! How special! But in reality, no, it's not that special. In the olden days everyone knitted and sewed and did all of that wholesome stuff. I bet my Granddad's other sisters knit/knitted too. When I first moved to Tasmania, I devoured the Little Women book and sequels by Louisa May Alcott. The books are so touching and beautiful. But when you stand back and look at them, they're about domestic life! Sometimes not even particularly noteworthy events in domestic life. Meg and Jo went to a party, Jo darned Mr Bhaer's socks, the girls put on a play. So simple, and so beautiful. Something I love in those books is the image of the women of the house with their mending baskets working together in the evening. All the women could knit and all the women did knit! I've heard that knitting started off as a man's activity, but in the late 19th century, it was very much a skill which women had and did more than the men, and it provided a time for discussion between women in a family. Alcott was a feminist, and in her last book of the series (don't want to give away too much), there are women in a university, and though they are very smart and studious, they're starting to forget how to sew and knit, and the March sisters run classes to teach them. I know it's kitschy Americana or whatever, and it was written so long ago, but it's just a lovely image. Women in a family, and then women in a community, doing such a creative, essential thing as fixing and making clothes, to provide for themselves and their families. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but it makes my heart smile. One day, if I have daughters, I'm going to teach them the value of the thread.