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!