Fair Isle

Chris, Derrick & Jacqueline 1948Feeling rather muzzy, worn, and out of focus with lingering sinus pain this morning, I decided not to retouch picture number 35 in the ‘through the ages’ series.  It seemed appropriately to reflect my current condition. If you look at this image in its reduced state, it doesn’t look too bad, but give it a closer look (i.e. click on it) and the blemishes are all revealed.  I don’t really look myself in the photo either.

It depicts the first trio of our parents’ offspring, namely me, Chris, and Jacqueline, taken, I imagine, in the summer of 1948, probably in Durham, and if so by our grandfather.  We were very proud of those Fair Isle jumpers which were all the rage then, and continue to be made today.  I don’t think they were available at that time from outlets such as Laura Ashley.  They were, and still are, hand-knitted in the island in northern Scotland from which they take their name.  The genuine article is no longer generally available for sale, the market having been swallowed by mass production.  Their geometric patterns remain popular.

Ours were not from the Fair Isle.  They were, like all our other clothes, made by our mother.  A couple of years later, my grandmother taught me to knit.  I made endless scarves.  When I say endless, this is a literal statement.  They had no endings because I didn’t know how to cast off and had to wait for Grandma Hunter to be in the mood to do it for me.  They had usually got a bit straggly by then, and it wasn’t good for her temper.images-3images-4  I was, however, fascinated by the making of the patterns and progressed to designing, on squared paper, images for Mum to knit.  images-8This, as far as I remember, involved different symbols for different stitches, with the use of appropriate colours.  Joseph was to follow me in this, and I believe a Goofy design that Mum reproduced on a jumper for several family members was drawn on graph paper by him not so very long ago.  He obviously shared his brother’s interest in going beyond the geometric.

My own early masterpieces, long before anyone thought of recycling, have most likely wound up in some landfill somewhere.  Alternatively, if, like Mum’s dressmaking patterns, cut into squares and threaded on a string, the material was thin enough to be used for toilet paper, they could have come in handy in the loo.  I therefore found these images on the internet, in order to give you an idea of the creative process.

This afternoon and evening on TV I watched three of the autumn rugby internationals.   Wales beat Argentina 40-6.  Next up was three quarters of the match in which Ireland were struggling unconvincingly against Australia.  Because of a scheduling overlap, in order to watch the highlights of New Zealand beating England 30-22, I had to forgo the end of this second match, and change channels.  This last game was the most intriguing and exciting of them all.

After this Jackie fed me on fiery pork and beef curry and wild rice, whilst she enjoyed sausage casserole with slightly agitated rice.  I drank a little more of the Isla Negra.  The chef’s choice was Hoegaarden.  Her lively pumpkin pie that followed was flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon and mixed spices.  Cream was poured over it.  Then we ate it.

8 responses to “Fair Isle”

  1. […] Turning to the posterity collection we take a leap forward back to August 1963.  In those days men’s outfitters and tobacconists dominated the shopping streets of The City of London around Leadenhall Street where I worked.  Lime Street was the situation of the flower stall I photographed then.  That florist had a display of fine chrysanthemums.  Today, stallholders usually wrap purchases in something a little more decorative than the serviceable sheets skewered in place rather like Mum’s dressmaking patterns in the loo. […]

  2. I love how photos can conjure up memories beyond when they were taken. Now I want to knit something fair isle!

    Great post. 🙂

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