Sunday, 22 December 2013

Mum's knitting

So much has changed within our lifespan, that the magnanimity of the changes are difficult to fathom, most of the time.
Winter reminds me of all the knitting my mother did. It was something she liked doing, but has had to give up due to ill health. She usually had two to three ongoing knitting projects at a time, each winter.

She had a plain "seedha ulta" knitting, that she would ask me to get when somebody came home for a social visit and she had to pay attention to the person in front of her, or when she was watching television.

Then, there was one which had intricate designs, either with multiple colours of wool or had a pattern which had been painstakingly learnt, from one of the foreign books on knitting, or from one of the issues of "Woman and Home". This demanded mum's total attention, hence could not be tackled when watching television or when talking to people.

And usually there used to be one which was of intermediate level of difficulty which mum could carry on knitting, when making us do home work, or sitting with dad as he read the newspaper.

We all (mum, dad, brothers and me) wore beautiful sweaters, which would be admired and  be looked at by aunties in the neighbourhood, relatives, teachers (of my brothers' boarding school) and strangers, alike.

But we were not the only beneficiaries. Nearly everyone in the extended family had been gifted a hand knitted sweater from bhabhi, chhotima, aunty, krishna or whatever they addressed my mother as.

I will never forget how my colleagues responded when I told them, that the striking black cardigan, I was wearing, with a green border and red flowers set in it, had been knitted by my mother. This was when I was doing my post graduation in Safdarjung Hospital and mum was Head of the Department.

There were wide eyed exclamations of "What? Really? I have never even held a knitting needle,….etc. etc" They then explained to me that other mums making beautiful sweaters was easy to digest but Head of the Department making them…..noooo! It was giving everyone a complex!

Creating something is always very satisfying. The loving positive energy which went into creating the sweaters, was I am sure carried forth to the people receiving the gifts. Sometimes the wool was provided and mum just did the knitting. Either way, it helped knit us all together as a family.

There was always recycling, redoing of sweaters to be done, washing, wrapping and untangling of wool to help mum with and other accidents like the dog playing with or getting entangled in yarns of multicoloured wool or the wool coming out of the washing machine matted into one great mass resembling sadhu's locks or an adult sweater shrinking into one for the baby. The latter two problems were majorly because of an obsession for "pure" wool and not the synthetic brand called "cashmillon", in those days.

 Having said that, I must admit  sweaters which stand delicate washes without becoming hairy and getting deformed are harder to find in today's age of throw and buy. We are a consumerist society, which doesn't hold on to much. Everything finds its way to the landfill. Earlier, even saris which were given away, ended up being curtains and quilt covers after being recycled, just as the cotton ones were stitched together for baby mattresses or mats and would even end up as sanitary towels before being actually thrown away.

I can't knit a sweater for my children but am hoping I will be find time, energy and brain to do it for my grandchildren.

Mum's grandchildren wore her sweaters as babies and little children but soon outgrew the fashion and the need. My daughter still wears one knitted by my mum.