Thursday, 12 July 2012

Joan - and the story of the red knitted dress

This morning on the train I was knitting, as usual, and sat in the seats near the luggage rack, these ones are good cos they're generally never reserved. At Sheffield an elderly lady sat down next to me, and as she sat gave me a kind smile. I took out my left headphone in case she wanted to chat to me, I do love to chat, especially with old ladies! I could feel her eyes on my knitting as I sat purling in my wierd awkward hand knitting style. I gave her a smile and she said "it's good to see someone knitting, you don't see anyone knitting these days"...and that was it, we chatted non stop for the next hour and Joan had a story about a red dress that I just had to share.

When she was 16, Joan got her first job, which she had to travel by train to get to. She was doing a lot of travelling and wanted something to do with this time so decided to knit herself a dress. It took a long time to finish but when she did it was lovely, her favourite thing to wear, warm, cosy and perfectly fitted. I imagine Joan and her dress looked something like this...

Joan kept the dress for years, but everytime she washed it, the dress got a bit longer, but it was ok, she just unravelled a bit from the bottom and kept on wearing it. When she was married (12 years later) after a wash, Joan hung the dress to dry by the fireside and to her dismay, the skirt of the dress got singed beyond repair. But Joan being the resourceful lady that she is, removed the scorched part, and unravelled the dress until it was the length of a jumper, giving this hand knitted item a good few more years as a jumper!

Joan had 2 children, and when they were both young, Joan wanted to make them a christmas stocking each. Not having the money to buy any new fabric or yarn, she decided to use the now rather old jumper and fashioned 2 red christmas stockings out of it that the children went on to use unitl "father christmas stopped coming". The stockings were given to charity and that was the end of the red knitted dress.

Joan also told me about how her grandmother hand knitted socks for her 10 children and when they had been darned so much they couldn't be darned any more, the feet were cut off and new feet knitted on. Her Grandmother continued to knit socks and replace the feet in them for Joan's father into his adult life. Joan's father didn't wear other socks, because they just "weren't right".

While telling these stories, Joan also showed me a new way to hold my yarn to make my knitting easier and eventually quicker. And finally, just before the journey ended at Manchester Picdilly, we were talking about musicals, I mentioned Calamity Jane, and of course Joan loves Calamity Jane, but not only does she love it, it was the film that she watched on her first ever date.


If you haven't seen Calamity Jane, watch it. And if you can't knit, crochet or sew, you should seriously consider learning. In this era of fast, throwaway fashion we all need to take a leaf out of Joan's book, make things last, share skills and be awesome all the way into old age!


KimOhNo said...

What a sweet story!

I've tried knitting and crocheting many times. But I just can't get the hang of it! When I'm reminded how to knit a row I can do it, but I can't purl or cast on. I get annoyed with myself and bugger it all up! Then I refuse to do any more. One day I'll find something I can do really well. One day!

Maddie Lamb said...

I love when you have chats on the train like this =]

I have found a knitting fanatic in Korea so I am going to make her teach me!

Knit and Destroy said... took me a lot of time and my mum's patience to get me knitting, it's a fiddly business!

Glad you both like the story.

Maddie, hooray for finding a knitting fanatic, I bet they have some good patterns for stupidly cute stuff over there?! x x x