Saturday, December 27, 2008

Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot

When I was a little girl living in England, New Year's Eve was the best day of the whole year. We always spent Christmas at home in Essex, but on the 31st, we'd pack up our enormous family, hop on the train for the 3-hour trek to Oxford and stay overnight with our grandparents, Nanny and Bampy, who had a party every year without fail. New Year's Eve also happened to be Nanny's birthday, so I'm thinking that probably had a lot to do with this tradition as well. However, I cannot ever remember seeing a birthday cake or hearing anyone sing Happy Birthday to her. I don't even remember ever bringing her a gift (though I seriously doubt my mother would've turned up without one). But there was often a gift from Nanny for us.
On New Year's Eve 1981, I received my first knitting book. My sister got her first cookbook from the same series, and we both still have those books to this day. My knitting book was full of patterns for toys, doll clothes, handy kitchen items, a patchwork blanket, and (thrill of thrills!) a bag with a buckle closure!
Nanny was a master knitter. I remember her making clothes for my Sindy doll. I was enthralled by how she could come to the end of a coat or dress and have it hanging off the needles looking almost like the finished product, hardly needing anything in the way of sewing-together. Whenever I saw this, I aspired to one day be a skilled enough knitter to do the same thing. And guess what--now I can do it too.
My mum taught me to cast on, knit and cast off when I was seven. Nanny showed me how to purl, and how to make the pretty, lacy pattern that adorns the bottom of Sindy's first wedding dress (Sindy had a couple. In this day and age, a girl must be realistic). Often, when I'm knitting, I wonder how far back these skills went and where they originated in my family history. I'm glad to be able to carry them on for one more generation, but wonder if it'll stop here, since I don't have any girls of my own (not that knitting is only for girls, of course). For the time being, I'll keep knitting and loving it and perhaps one day I'll have the opportunity to pass the skills on to someone else, paying it forward and keeping an old tradition alive.
If my math is correct, Nanny would have been 94 today. Tonight, I will remember to celebrate her as well as the ringing in of the New Year.
Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, everyone!


Janine said...

What a wonderful story!!! My Mom was a fabulous knitter as well. She can't anymore with the arthritis in her hands but she used to knit all my Barbie clothes.
Have a Happy New Year!!
Looking forward to more stories!

meggie said...

I did enjoy reading this post! Grandmother's are wonderful aren't they? I more or less taught myself to knit. I am left handed & my mother lost patience with me, though I knit right handed. I also taught myself to crochet, & loved having a daughter to crochet for. My daughter can knit but is not really interested, & nor is my granddaughter, which seems a shame.

Sister #1 said...

What a great memory! I still have "My First Show Me How Cookbook" from Nanny that same year. I remember making the pineapple upside down cake with Mum one Sunday while Dad was train spotting :) It was the first thing I ever cooked. This year I got Nicky a cookbook of her own and we had such fun making "fairy fudge" during the holidays.