Friday, 24 April 2015

Knitting Memories and Lambs are Here

I keep wishing now I had paid more attention.  I think I've told you one of my grandmothers spun her own wool on a spinning wheel my grandfather had built (made) for her.  I remember trying to help her with this by holding up my arms for her to wind the wool into balls.  But as for the actual process of spinning, I have no recollection.  She knit all the sweaters, socks, hats, mitts and gloves for the family.  My grandfather wore the heaviest of the sweaters under his oil skins out fishing.  When my father began his teaching career, he sported a vest and sweater of every suitable colour all knit by his mother.  The vests were probably knit from finer wool that she would have had to order from the mail-order catalogues  back in those days. 
I've read a few books where knitting is happening.  And one such book stands out.  I remember reading one many years ago that had a lot of knitting in it. It is called Lambs of God by Marele Day and is about three nuns who live on an island dotted with sheep.

 They represent the end of their order and I never forgot how endearing their characters were.  I also remember how they performed the usual daily rituals but ended each day sitting with cups of tea and knitting the wool from those sheep.  As they knit they would dream up schemes that would enable them to keep living their lives in their rundown monastery. I loved the book but as I've mentioned, I didn't seem to be so critical of books in those days.
Speaking of lambs, Hubby and I spied these at a neighbouring farm and were surprised how big the lambs are already.  I guess they must have been born back in January or February. These little guys were not quite the fluffy, white, adorable looking lambs depicted in pictures.  They had mud to their knees(?) and were generally grayish.

They were sharing their field with an unlikely fellow pictured below; I think it is an emu and it was happily foraging unconcerned by the cold wind.  Curious too as it came right over to the fence to see us.  I got a close up look at its feathers; they were amazingly thick.  Sorry these photos are so washed out; the weather was gloomy with the odd snowflake bouncing in the wind and the grass far from green.

One of my distant relatives tragically died when I was a young teenager.  She had a mysterious illness that gradually sapped all her energy.  She spent her last months busily knitting for her family and the winter after she died, her children all wore the mitts and hats their mother had knit for them.  I always tear up when I think of the poignancy of that...her last useful act as a mother for her children.  She did what she could, all she knew how to do.