We knit to a slow beat. When we turn our hands to make treasured woollens, we know that it will not be quick work. It is as though we craft in a different time dimension.
Those items that we make also have the potential to mess with time. A piece that has been well crafted from wool can last many generations.
I have (and I treasure) a woollen blanket that was crocheted for me by my great-grandmother.
My mum says:
This was the blanket Great Nan crocheted for you – her first great-grandchild, and I wrapped you in this on a cold July day to take you home…I used to love watching my Nan knitting and crocheting – it was a childhood mystery…magical…now I watch you and I’m awed.
I used this same blanket to warm my own babies, and will keep it for my grandchildren. Its value goes beyond sentimentality. It is genuinely warm and useful and I marvel over and over that a lady no longer walking this earth still warms her descendants. I have hopes that the blankets I make during my lifetime will do the same.
Some wonderful crafters have been sharing their treasured heirloom stories with me. Some are custodians for woollen pieces made by elders in their own family. Others have started a new making tradition in their family, taking up the mantle after the older crafting generation have passed away. The birth of a child is often a catalyst for people to begin knitting or crochet, or to take it up again after a long break.
What makes these pieces special is the intent behind the making, even if they are imperfect. A friend shared this story:
My mum knitted this blanket for me as a baby. I used it for my third child (our only winter baby). I especially love where you can see it took her a while to get the lace pattern right!
And there is something wonderfully freeing about the fact that imperfection can be stunningly beautiful and much-loved. The thoughts and the love that are poured into a woolly treasure far outweigh any so-called errors. In fact, the mistakes are often the very thing that we treasure about a piece – that identify that it was made by hand.
The hand-made movement is going strong. There’s a common saying, these days: “Makers gonna make”. It’s true. Not much will stop a maker from making. And even long after we are gone, what we made will persist in fibre and in memory; a love that stretches past time.