Friday, 6 August 2021

A Story from the past

 Speaking to friend S on the phone earlier this morning, I was telling her a story from the past prompted by the fact that Tom Daley, the British Diver and, along with his diving partner, winner of an Olympic Gold medal, had knitted (and was wearing) a fantastic white jacket with Olympic symbols in red and blue in fairisle on it.   My friend commented on a man knitting and I immediately thought of my mother's two youngest brothers (she was one of eight).    She said I should tell you the story.   I know many of you enjoy a tale from the past - so here goes.

A and T were both Plate Layers on the railway.   They both lived in the village where they were born.   But there the similarity ended.   T was the black sheep of the chapel-going family - he never went to chapel, he was frequently fined for poaching; he had never married and lived in a little cottage and paid a local lady to keep it clean and tidy for him.   Various local ladies adored him and he was never short of a hot meal.

A, on the other hand, played the harmonium at chapel every Sunday, lived alone in the house where he was born - and looked after his elderly father, cooking all the meals and doing all the cleaning.   He gardened, so they were never short of produce for his cooking and he also had an all-consuming passion.   He was an embroiderer.   As each niece or nephew married he would produce a pattern book well in advance of the wedding date and invite them to choose tablecloth.    He would send for it and embroider it for a wedding present.   I chose a cut-out design which must have taken hours to work - but it was there for my wedding day.   I have it still - almost seventy years later.

As a matter of interest - they both married.   Uncle T married the lady next door who had been cleaning for him for years and had produced most of his meals.   They had some happy years together and when he died his funeral was huge - several Masters of various Fox Hunts attended with their followers and the horses led the funeral procession to the door of the church.   And there was a long write-up in the paper.

Uncle A got chatting to a Miss W (monied and living alone in a large house the garden of which bordered the railway line so that she frequently was able to bring him a glass of port wine to drink before his lunch!) and they too married and lived happily for many years.

My father used to poke fun at A I'm afraid, mainly because before either of them were married A used to take his sewing kit to work so that he could mend anything belonging to T which needed a stitch.

All of them, of course, are long dead.    Uncle A and his wife always invited us twice a year to tea when I was a child.    Auntie J's favourite game was Tiddleywinks and we always had to play after tea, much to my father's disgust.   I loved it.


33 comments:

CharlotteP said...

I have a friend, a tough Scot, married, too...you wouldn't dare suggest to him that there was anything amiss with a man knitting!
Well done, Laura Kenny; the first British woman to win gold at 3 successive games...will she become Dame Laura? Hope so!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

It's strange how knitting and sewing became considered as "women's work", as I'm sure that soldiers and sailors in the past must have done their own sewing when away on campaigns or voyages. And tailors were usually men. I believe that the men and women of Dent, over near Sedbergh, used to do knit socks as a way of supplementing their income and were known as the "mad knitters of Dent". I believe Tom Daley sells everything he knits and donates the money to charity; I imagine the items knitted at the Olympics should raise a good sum.

Tasker Dunham said...

I don't knit myself (except we once did squares for a blanket at school) but can see what a skill it is. The jacket or jumper Tom Daley is knitting looks fantastic.

Jennyff said...

My cousin, a Yorkshire farmer, learned to knit as a child because he wanted to and we have a friend in his late 80s who was in the navy and did the most wonderful embroidery. I’m sure both found crafting relaxing and productive, I can understand how Tom Daley kept calm between events by picking up his needles, I wouldn’t advise him to start knitting his own swimming gear though.

Rachel Phillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JayCee said...

My aunt, my Dad's youngest sister, told me that when I was born my grandma was busy knitting things for me and Dad was told that men couldn't knit. He wanted to prove them all wrong so he learned from his mother and went on to knit me a full layette in pale pink.
I was so proud of him when I heard the story. He never knitted anything else afterwards though. Perhaps once was enough!

Marcia LaRue said...

What a lovely story! I had an uncle who made latch hook rugs! My Mom made sure my sister and I knew how to embroider and crochet. I taught myself how to knit!
All are wonderful skills to have!

MrsL said...

The knitters were the "terrible knitters of Dent", renowned for their speed, dexterity and output.
Men have been knitting - along with other handcrafts - for hundreds of years. Some of the most beautiful and inspiring knitting I've seen has been done by men eg Kaffe Fassett. There are dozens of Youtube channels and vlogs by men, now, to my mind much more enjoyable than the womens' ones, much more exuberant and enthusiastic!















Men have knitted throughout history; some of the best and most creative knitting

MrsL said...

Not sure what happened there ^^^^ - sorry!

Ellen D. said...

I googled Tom Daley to see the sweater he knit and I am amazed! That is a beautiful sweater! I'd never be able to do that. Congrats to him!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Just switched on between programmes I am watching. Lots of inspiring stories already.
Keep it up.

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

What an interesting story!

Debby said...

I love your story! I am glad that your uncle's married and lived happily ever after. Could we have a glimpse of that tablecloth one day?

Debby said...

Sorry. Not sure how that apostrophe snuck in there...

Heather said...

Knitting was once men's work. I can't remember if it was Guernsey seamen's sweaters or Scottish ones which were knitted by men. Each district had it's own pattern.
I admired Tom Daley's design which was quite intricate. Clever chap.
I also loved your story from the past.

Janie Junebug said...

I love your story and would love to see the tablecloth. I believe Edward VIII, the king who abdicated, liked to embroider.

Love,
Janie

Bettina Groh said...

My grandfather was a POW in a facility just outside of Berlin during WWI. He learned to knit from the British sailors that were also incarcerated... after the war he came home to my grandmother and mother with sweaters he had knit!!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your story. My grandfather asked my grandmother to teach him to crochet when he was terminally ill . To our delight he made beautiful colourful rugs. Also Pre Covid days we had a seniors community group of textile/knitting/sewing women who liked to get together for a natter, and had one male participant who loved both the knitting and the catch-up...from Pam.

Susan said...

Love finds a way. Some might have thought your two uncles were confirmed bachelors. It does seem knitting is not confined to women.

Joanne Noragon said...

Men and handiwork are not uncommon. My brother crocheted lovely doilies.

Cro Magnon said...

I saw Daley's white knitted Olympic jumper.... I thought it was amazing. Very professional. What talent.

Hilde said...

Both our sons learned to knit and to embroider at primary school, more than thirty years ago.I still use a cross-stitched pincushion I got for my 40th birthday which they made together.

Bonnie said...

I saw a feature story today on Tom Daley's knitting. I agree he is very talented! I enjoyed your family story very much. Family history is always interesting. I have not thought of Tiddleywinks in ages, I used to love that game!

Dc said...

My husband and his father both do/did needlepoint.

thelma said...

Years ago I remember a bishop bringing out a book on knitting beautiful jumpers. As menders of nets I am not surprised men can knit and do other needlework, it is just that our minds are gender set. Lovely tale about your two uncles and how they settled down.

MrsL said...

That would be Richard Rutt, the Bishop of Leicester - he wrote a volume on the history of handknitting, an excellent resource for knitters :)

Librarian said...

Unlike my Mum and sister, who are accomplished knitters, I have never learned it; I was rather good at crocheting but have never really got the hang of sewing or stitching, although I admire everyone who can do it.
Thank you for sharing the stories of your uncles - there is more than enough to their lives for a book!

Tom Stephenson said...

I also loved this story, Weave. It sounds as if the two of them fell on their feet.

The Feminine Energy said...

One of my brothers used to crochet. I think it's wonderful that a man likes to do needlecrafts too. ~Andrea xoxoxo

Rambler said...

My Dad learned to knit while he was recovering in hospital after contracting TB. I can only surmise that my Mum taught him, as she was always a prolific knitter, never without something on the go. I was fascinated watching her while she knitted intricate patterns, read a book propped on the arm of her chair and managed to watch her favourite programmes on the TV (Emmerdale Farm amd Peyton Place being her favourites.)

The Weaver of Grass said...

What interesting memories I have stirred up in you all. Thanks for sharing them.

gz said...

Knitting was men's work...but spinning belonged to women.
Teamwork?

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