I was born on Caldey Island, South Wales, in 1941. My family moved to Aberdeen in 1945, where I grew up.
I emigrated to Canada when I was 45, and worked as a Nanny/Housekeeper. I started in Ontario, then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia which was a wonderful experience. I lived there for 15 years.
My home now is Glasgow, near my daughter, which has everything I could possibly need in the way of culture, stimulation and friendships.
I still want to travel, and plan to get going when this pandemic is more under control.
Knitting is easy. All you need are two pointy sticks (needles), some yarn (wool usually), and you’re away. There are only two basic stitches – plain and purl – and all patterns are a variation of these two simple stitches. The texture of your knitting project depends on the size of the needles and the gauge of the yarn. Very fine needles with 2ply (means two strands) of wool will make a baby shawl fine enough to pull through a wedding ring, as they say. At the other end of the scale, there is a method using arms. Arms! I know! Who knew? But it’s true, using arms as needles and very big gauge wool you can make a blanket. Check it out on YouTube – there are lots of ‘how to’ knitting videos on there!
I started knitting around the age of five – certainly before I started school. I think my Granny taught me, and by the time we had domestic science class (this was way back in the late 40s) I was an accomplished knitter, even using four needles to make socks.
When I was ten, my mother was expecting. Up till then I was the youngest of four, and the idea of a baby was both exciting and unknown. There were already two boys and two girls, so there was a competition to see which team would have the extra player. When the call came from the hospital that there were two babies, a boy and a girl, we were amazed, as that certainly was not expected. Apart from the rush to exchange the single pram for a double, and getting more baby clothes ready for them, I knitted furiously, making baby jackets and mitts etc. Some of them had a mistake, but I reckoned ‘… they’ll do for playing in!’
Now, at the age of 80, my knitting is mostly small things. Mainly tiny hats for premature babies which I deliver to the neonatal department in quantities of 50. I can knit three in an evening if I put my mind to it, and I make up patterns as I go along. I get the wool in bulk and take any colour available. It’s a real thrill to get the needles out, choose a ball of wool and start casting on stitches. I seldom look at what I do; I’ve been doing for so long I can ‘feel’ if it’s right, and the finished articles pile up in the special bin I keep for just that purpose.
In the past I have knitted much more complicated and elaborate items. I once knitted a coat of many colours, but once it was finished, I didn’t like it, so I ripped it out and used the wool for another project. I’ve discovered it’s the making of something and not the finished article which pleases me. Once the garment is finished, the seams have been sewn, any button or bauble attached, and it’s been pressed, I lose interest and get ready for the next one.
Reading a knitting pattern is like learning a foreign language, but the language is universal. For instance, k1, p1 means knit one stitch from the front then purl the next from the back. Again, YouTube will show you how. When you knit one row then come back knitting a purl row, the finished look is called stocking stitch which is a smooth even piece. All knitting patterns have the meanings and instructions at the start, so just follow that and hey! You’re knitting!
My current project is for a new mother who had delivered twin girls, many weeks too early. Both of them are in isolation now, but their prognosis is excellent. I’m knitting two pink and white pram blankets with what I call ‘blobby wool’, and it’s a great joy to see the pattern coming up even and regular.
I can watch TV or listen to the radio while knitting, but sometimes I prefer to have nothing, and it’s then I write my stories in my head, setting the scenes, testing the dialogue, making the middle, the beginning, and the end – feeling the characters come to life. When I start to type them up, often I’ve told my story with very little deviation, and the words flow from my fingers. Those are the best kinds of stories, I think.
Lesley P Lyon 🧶🧵
Send us your flash submissions on our December theme:
a bit of coorie and hygge!
Are you an avid Christmas crafter? Do you run any creative festive workshops for people in your area? Do you have any special winter routines or hobbies that help you to stay cosy and navigate the chilliest months in a state of contentment? Were there any festive or winter traditions you had growing up with your family or friends? If so, we’d love you to tell us about it in a flash submission. It could be a memoir, a short story, an anecdote or a poem.
Ends on December 31st and the author of our favourite entry will win a book prize and have their submission published on the website. Entries are free.