Thursday, November 12, 2009

The lost knitting needles

There is something about winters that I miss for last two three seasons and I am not talking about Phantom sweet cigarettes . Actually, I do not see many women engaged in knitting sweaters( and shawls and scarf and many other things) ….in parks, in buses…err…even in offices and schools . Something which was so common in my growing up years is now a rarity. Somehow, the fad of knitting is gone….not that I was ever good in that, but it always intrigued me how women can keep themselves engaged and entertained in something so monotonous . As I was always a beneficiary of the art and never the practitioner, my knowledge about various kinds of wool, their suitability for this design or that and my curiosity to guess the design for sweater someone is wearing on the street is very limited. I was blessed with mom and sisters who could always oblige my whims to wear some crazy design. Like once I remember I was very jealous of my elder sister’s pretty sweater with 4-5 pink flowers made of crochet and insisted that I want a “more beautiful” sweater for my birthday. So on my 6th birthday mom made me a lovely ( to my eyes) sweaters full of flowers and leaves attached on it. That I was looking ridiculously funny wearing that was immaterial. Even now in old pictures , you will find me wearing a huge smile whenever I wore that sweater . Similar fond memories are associated with many other mufflers, shawls and other woolen clothes knitted and gifted to me by aunts, granny and friends. Though I was and still am , a totally talentless creature in this field, I do appreciate the amount of labour it takes to make a perfect sweater. The machine made sweaters may be the call of the day now but can never match the mamma made ones.
Growing up in small towns , I have many memories related to knitting in winter months. Whenever two ladies of the neighborhoods met, the talk usually came down to the progress of knitting project in hand and the future plans for copying this design and that . Getting the right shade of wool and the right number of knitting needles was also a major fuss. I remember my sis, always poor in her estimate , would fall short by few “lines” to complete a sweater and then would make me go shop to shop hunting the same colour of wool . My mom also had a knack of losing one of her knitting needles and then she would look for it in all probable places for days . It must have been a very acceptable hobby to pursue worldwide as I have seen at least half a dozen portraits of women with their knitting going uninterrupted. Like this one by famous french painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau : I also remember old posters , biscuit tin images and even Christmas cards when the mother in the picture has her hands busy in knitting. Somehow, knitting being a hobby one can pursue while doing other things made it so popular among women. I can recall teachers knitting in school busses and even in recess times .
In the changing world of speed , I miss those ladies and their wool balls . Last night , when I was taking out my winter clothes I suddenly remembered the fun it used to be to ‘ help’ mummy in getting her wool sorted and made into balls , my sister’s experimental designs and her re-knitting (mis) adventures with old sweaters and their creative ideas to use the leftover wool . The emotions attached to the sweaters gifted to babies ,fathers and husbands are all woven within the colourful world of knitting. And just in case anyone find this whole business of knitting very very sexist – I at least know a male friend from my university days who was equally fond of knitting. He even knitted sweaters for his dogs and ( my ) dolls…..however much we laughed at him, he never mind inquiring about a new pattern of sweater from our moms and no wonder was always welcome in our house.
Well, we still wear sweaters, may be far more stylish then ever but the fun and joy associated with those home made beauties is lost . I do not know many friends who still knit ….my sis is now more busy writing programming code for IBM than knitting sweaters for me and even mom hardly pick up her knitting needles . Though with the care she has still kept her knitting box shows how precious it must be for her. I wonder if they still get those knitting pattern books . Just found that these are now probably replaced by knitting pattern websites. Changing world indeed.


कुमार आलोक said...

बचपन की स्मृतियां फिर से ताजी हो गइ। मेरी मौसी जो मेरे बचपन के दिनों में मिरांडा हाउस दिल्ली की युनियन लीडर थी । उनके पास लेटेस्ट डिजाइ होते थे हैंड मेड स्वेटर के । जब वो स्वेटर पहनकर स्कूल जाने के लिये निकलता था तो आंटी और दीदी लोग मुझे रोककर मेरा स्वेटर उतरवारकर डिजाइन को कापी किया करती थी । कभी कभी मुहल्ले की वो औरतें जिन्हें इस कला में महारत हासिल थी ... अगर पास के किसी घर के अहाते में बेहतरीन डिजाइन वाला स्वेटर सूखने के लिये रस्सी पर टंगा हुआ रहता था तो वो महिलायें चोरी छुपे जाकर उसका डिजाइन कापी कर लिया करती थी । क्यूंकि पडोसी के घर से स्वेटर मांगकर डिजाइन कापी करने के बाद उनकी बुनाइ कला की बादशाहत पर बट्टा लग सकता था । आज भले ही ब्रांडेड कंपनियों के उनी वस्त्र को पहनना स्टेटस सिंबल बन गया हो लेकिन हाथों की कलाकारी से बने उन स्वेटरों का आज भी कोइ तोड नही है । जाडे के दिनों में खासकर बिहार के सरकारी स्कूलों की महिला टीचर्स का ध्यान पढाइ पर कम होकर उनके हाथ उन के गोलों के साथ १२ नंबर और १३ नंबर के कांटों में ज्यादा उलझे रहते है ।
बहुत ही रोचक पोस्ट ।

गुस्ताख़ said...

ऊन की बिनाई को लेकर हमारी याद तो स्कूल की टीचर ही हैं। मेरी मां भी बिनाई में सिद्धहस्त हैं। तो स्कूल की अध्यापिकाएं मेरे हाफ या फुल बाजू के स्वेटर की डिजाइन उलट-पुलट कर देखा करती थीं। बिनाई के दौरान बतियाती मां-बहन, पडोसिनें और स्कूल में टीचर यही याद हैं हमें, बस अब तो ये सब क्रेप-डि-चाइन के आने से अतीत हो गया है।

Haddock said...

Lovely collection of pictures and goes well with the matter.

peachy said...

so wonderful reading the case of the lost knitting needles. No,seriously i got a lump in my throat thinking of my mom and how old she is and that soon it will be all gone- mom knitted sweaters and their sweet warmth.thanks for reminding.