Reinstating the ball of wool

I knitted this when I was mid-teens in the 1970s. The pattern appeared in one of those women’s magazines that had been going forever. I desperately wanted one.  The colour selection was partially based on leftovers, which is why it’s a bit … mmm. It doesn’t look like the magazine picture.

The very first thing I knitted, as a very young child, was a blue baby’s bonnet. There was a panel of moss stitch along one side. For those not familiar with knitters’ lingo, that’s a panel of bumpy bits. My poor Mum was asked repeatedly if this row started with a purl stitch, a bumby bit. I hope I got the hang of it eventually. I can’t remember how old I was … old enough to have developed a bit of manual co-ordination but the result was probably very child-like.

Why I’m writing about knitting

Knitting is squarely in the “Lost, But Worth Reinstating” category of my Year of Liveability.

Liveability, for me, is about making spaces, objects, events and activities worthwhile. There are containers of left-over wool from the 80s sitting under the dressmaker dummy. I could just give them away. Instead, I want to use them.  That’s not as selfish as it sounds.

Last year, a workmate roped me into knitting a beanie in exchange for helping clean out the roof gutters. The wool he supplied reminded me of pumpkins growing amidst a rampant vine of various shades of green and brown. I enjoyed myself. I remembered how much I used to enjoy this.

Then a notice popped up at work asking for contributions to the yarn bombing of the submarine HMAS Otway at Holbrook, NSW. I posted off a couple of yellow lengths, planned to visit the finished piece but the weather was not co-operative. All accounts I’ve read say the event was a huge success. There are plenty of web pages and photos on the internet if you are interested.


Yellow sections for the submarine
Yellow sections for the submarine


The success of the yarn bombing was partly possible because of the recent resurgence in knitting. For many years, here in Australia anyway, skeins of wool were confined to specialty knitting shops, getting more and more expensive. Now they are turning up on long shelves in warehouse-style housewares-cum-haberdashery stores.

Though I’m not sure about the quality of the wool. Cheap often means cheap.

Why is it worthwhile?

Why has knitting lasted beyond the simple necessity of making clothes for one’s family, now that home-made clothes are no longer a necessity?

There will be many reasons. One of them, I suspect, is that we are more likely to knit things for other people than we are for ourselves … because, for many of us, that first beautiful hand-made jumper was made by someone special; we knew who made it and we remember how we felt when we received it.

That’s worth passing on.

The practicalities

That chap from work I mentioned earlier … he turned up at my desk the other day with a large plastic shopping bag and a tentative hello. Lincraft were having a 50%-off sale and he’d checked out the wool supplies. The bag he was holding had been on sale for $10, a mix of different types, sizes and colours. If I knitted him another beanie, as wild as I liked, he said I could have the leftovers.

Needles and patterns aplenty at my place, but there was one important element missing. I hadn’t made any notes from my last beanie effort and here I was, a few months later, making another from scratch.

I headed out and bought myself that one important missing element, a beautiful notebook – my new knitting journal.


Knitting needles - old and new
Knitting needles – old and new



2 responses to “Reinstating the ball of wool”

  1. ChristineR Avatar

    One of my aunts taught me to knit, and first up was a green doll’s cardigan. In the end, the poor woman got frustrated with all my dropped stitches, but we perservered and my doll got a holey cardy. At primary school, it was the tea cosy, but made with a bri-nylon type wool, I think, cream one side and mauve the other. When I began work and could afford wool, I shrunk my first wool jumper in the clothes dryer. Ruined, without ever wearing it! With growing kids, I knitting animal and birds from a WW knitting magazine, in acrylic. My kids loved them so much I added an extra lower edge and wrist bands to them when they grew. Handknits never really go out of fashion. Great post, and a worthwhile pursuit for 2015.


    1. Cherrie Zell Avatar

      I’d forgotten about that nylon stuff we knitted with. There was multi-coloured one I remember my brother and I plaiting, twirling into a flat circle (his was oval, I think), and stitching to make table mats.

      Cool memories. Thanks Christine.

      Liked by 1 person

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