Purls of wis­dom

Amy Lavelle’s lat­est tale of vin­tage knit­ting evokes lov­ing mem­o­ries of her favourite knit­ting teach­ers

Simply Knitting - - In This Issue -

Amy Lavelle and her knit­ting teach­ers

Does ev­ery knit­ter have an­other knit­ter (a bet­ter one) in their life they aspire to be like? I’m sure I can’t be the only one. The very ac­com­plished prob­a­bly don’t, of course, but I’ll never be one of them. For me, that knit­ter was my grandma. (There’s also my aunt, the neigh­bour that gave me a re­fresher course in my teens and my friend Emily, who’s good at ev­ery­thing, but par­tic­u­larly whizzy with a pair of nee­dles. All right, so there are loads. but let’s go back to my grandma…)


There’s a par­tic­u­lar knit­ted item I think of when I think of her and that’s a lacy blue shawl. It was light and soft and wrapped both me and my toys. I’ve men­tioned be­fore the con­nec­tion I have found to my fam­ily and my past by through trawl­ing through vin­tage knit­ting pat­terns and my lat­est cre­ation is no ex­cep­tion, be­cause it’s this shawl that I have in mind when I be­gin look­ing for my new pro­ject. The one that I’m plan­ning on mak­ing is slightly more dig­ni­fied, more grown-up and much chunkier than the one I used to wrap my toys in, but it’s still a shawl.


I find the per­fect pat­tern in an is­sue of Star

Stole Book, Num­ber 133, dat­ing back to the 1950s or 60s. There it is, draped across the model’s shoul­ders, evok­ing all the glam­our of that era. It’s the per­fect evening wear wrap. I in­stantly ruin it by for­go­ing that look en­tirely. In­stead, I’ve cho­sen to make it in a yarn thick enough to keep Big­foot warm, so it will work well wrapped around a coat. I prob­a­bly can’t ex­pect quite the same level of warmth, com­fort and love I felt when wrapped in grandma’s lacy blue shawl, but that prob­a­bly has a lot more to do with child­hood and a grand­mother’s kind­ness than de­cent yarn. But since I have found a par­tic­u­larly chunky yarn, hope­fully it will come just a lit­tle bit close.


Once I get started, the en­tire pro­ject feels meant to be. I make it while vis­it­ing my in-laws, sit­ting in their Cor­nish farm­house, eye­ing up their sheep through the win­dow. I am lost in my cable knit, my favourite knit­ting style. For once, it all goes en­tirely seam­lessly and doesn’t re­quire me rip­ping apart all my stitches when I in­ex­pli­ca­bly find I’ve gone wrong some­where, which is how my projects usu­ally be­gin. Or so I think, un­til I re­alise (roughly 24 rows in) that I haven’t ac­counted for the fact that the yarn I’m knit­ting in is much thicker than the one called for in the pat­tern, and what I’m mak­ing is ac­tu­ally a blan­ket that could cover a fam­ily of four!


Re­luc­tantly, I start again. Then I re­alise I’ve for­got­ten my cable nee­dle and have to use a sec­tion of old pipe in its place, fol­lowed by a chop­stick. But some­how, I man­age to pull it o and fi­nally, my shawl is made. In the spirit of grandma, I con­sider giv­ing it to a friend. Then I re­alise I re­ally like it too much for gift giv­ing and keep it for my­self. I mean, what can I say? I aspire to be like grandma but I’m not there yet (in more ways than one). Look out for more vin­tage knit­ting ad­ven­tures from Amy in fu­ture is­sues of

Sim­ply Knit­ting. Have you de­signed your own pat­tern? Or found one you’ve loved knit­ting? Then we want to hear about it! Find our con­tact de­tails on page 29.

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