Sunday, 21 September 2008

Knitting And My New Course Of Study

After sending off the ECA for my OU course yesterday, I couldn't make my mind up whether to start the reading for my new course, or to do a bit of knitting first. In the end, knitting won and I have started knitting a cardigan.

Knitting is one of those old arts that pretty much went out of fashion in the 70s as it became possible to buy machine-made woollens at a reasonable price. I was taught to knit as a very young child (probably at the age of 4 or 5) and for years I knitted clothes for my dolls. When I was 11 I knitted a jumper for myself; I can remember it clearly, it was bright red in colour and had a complicated 4-row pattern to it. What makes this jumper particularly memorable is that I finished knitting it on the day that England won the World Cup. Yes, that does mean that you can work out how old I am, but I don't care because most people don't think that I look my age.

At about the time that I finished knitting that first jumper, many of my cousins from my Dad's side of the family started to have babies. Dad was the youngest of six children, and was 30 by the time that I was born, so my cousins were all a fair bit older than me. So my Mum and I seemed to spend all our time knitting baby clothes for the innumerable additions to the family. I think that I knitted something for all these new additions, but the outfit that meant the most to me was the one that I knitted for the baby who I was asked to be Godmother to. I was 13 at the time, and she was eventually born on Cup Final day.

I think that it was that summer that I was taught how to crochet, and a series of crocheted blankets were made of squares produced from the remnants of wool left from all the baby clothes that we had been making and from the numerous items that the female members of my mother's family had knitted over the years. Knitters never throw away the scraps that are left because you never know when you may need a bit of wool to sew on a button or repair an unravelling seam.

I've continued to knit and crochet all these years, and the things that I have made have been many. I've crocheted two evening dresses (they were all the fashion in the 70s and 80s) and I crocheted a christening dress for my second Goddaughter. I've knitted jumpers and cardigans for myself, jumpers for my husband (I've always hated knitting things for men because they seem to take forever), jumpers with pictures on for my second Goddaughter and my Godson when they were small (they are both in their 20s now), and recently I have knitted a number of lace shawls and made a couple of afghans, one knitted and one crocheted. Last year, while I was in Canada I made a crocheted baby's afghan with lots of teddies on it; in fact it is the one that is pictured on my blog.

Knitting has made a bit of a comeback over recent years, after many years when it had become a forgotten craft. Much of the revival is due to a number of young designers who have decided to work with wool and have come up with innovative designs and the wool manufacturers have brought out many new yarns for these items. And incredible as it may seem, a number of Hollywood actresses started to knit when they were on the set of films, and where celebrities lead, others are sure to follow.

My cardigan now has a couple inches of its back completed; it's not growing very quickly, but it has a cable pattern to it so I shouldn't be surprised as it requires me to keep an eye on what I am doing, although I have made one mistake so far but I spotted that almost immediately so it wasn't too much of a problem.

I have also started work on my new course. I have almost finished reading the first chapter of the course book, I have watched the relevant video, and I may be in a position to write part of my first TMA for the course tomorrow. The first TMA has two questions, the first of which relates to this first chapter. If I write the essays as I work my way thorough the relevant material I shouldn't be left in the situation that I was with my last course, having to struggle to find the enthusiasm to get the work done. Five hundred words on Plutarch's view of the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra shouldn't be too difficult, should it?

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