I’m beginning this series with Helen Eatherton, a prolific and skilled knitter who lives by the Essex coast. I follow her progress by the books and yarns she orders online. Occasionally she’ll rock up in person, quietly and unannounced. Like Mary Poppins she brings a bag from which she pulls out one fabulous completed project after another. She’ll already have decided what she wants to make next and we’ll carefully go through the yarns that will substitute, because there’s something considered and careful about all that Helen does. She’s quietly brilliant and gently monumental in all she knits. Thank you for your story Helen. I miss you. I hope you’ll be back soon.
“Helen, can’t you see that’s a knit and not a purl!” I was 11 years old and my mother was tearing her hair out as I tried to make a moss stitch baby cardigan for one of my teachers who was expecting a baby. It was over 10 years before I picked up the needles again.
When I was 21, I returned home having completed a year as an au pair in Geneva. Missing the little girl whose life I had been sharing, I wanted to send her a gift and I knew in my heart that it had to be a hand knit. I enjoyed greater success this time and my love for knitting was launched.
I soon enjoyed one of my best knitting shop experiences when I was a student nurse in Whitechapel. One Saturday morning with a group of friends, we excitedly rushed into the local wool shop. It was a large shop and was full of women trying to buy wool. I even had to wait to get a place at the counter. I made myself an all wool dark mauve cardigan which became the envy of many on night shifts.
I have knitted steadily ever since. I have many poignant knitting memories and stories. My husband has a daughter from his first marriage. We are very different people but share two main interests, our love for her father and our fascination with knitting. It has been a wonderful bond for us over many years. In June 2016 I started working on ‘Moss Trellis Cardigan’ (see Ravelry). It took nine months to complete and gave me comfort and continuity as I moved house, changed jobs and lost my mother. In fact, the very last words she said to me asked about the progress I was making with it.
I now live on the coast in Frinton-on-Sea where we also have a beach hut. I have been intending to knit bunting for several years and when I saw the Club 6 cotton I knew the moment had arrived. I was worried that the triangles would be too big but I thought about the vastness of the sea and sure enough, they don’t look out of place at all.
My lockdown experience has been working (NHS midwife), knitting and gardening. I have missed my 3 adult children horribly (no longer living at home). I managed to almost finish Maude (Pom Pom Issue 14, Autumn 2015) using the very versatile De Rerum Natura Gilliatt. Unfortunately, I was recovering from a particularly long ‘on call’ when I joined the sleeve inside out. Abandoning that, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with adding a square to my Mitred Square Blanket but somehow managed to make one smaller than the others!
My biggest bug bear is buying a kit and having to play yarn chicken because the yardage margins are so tight. My favourite designer is Ysolda because of the attention to detail she puts into all her patterns. My favourite wool shop is Wild and Woolly. My only regret is that I live so far away.