I’m a great one for lamenting years gone by, singing the praises of long forgotten decades which I never even lived through. What can I tell you? I buy into the rose-tinted view of the past and am a self-confessed romantic*.

My big gripe today is the loss of skills our generation seems to be experiencing. Yesterday, I decided to try knitting a tea cosy from one of Nan’s patterns. The picture style and colours used suggested these instructions had been written in the late 50s/early 60s, whilst the elegant script across the top of the page promised a quick, easy project**. Thinking I would have a lovely snuggly tea-pot by the end of the day, I set to it with gusto… only to discover that I would, in fact, be knitting with two strands of each colour of yarn. What the pattern actually said was ‘use wool double’, which I thought might have meant ‘use the double-knit wool, rather than the crepe for this section’. A quick phone call to Mum clarified what it meant and after winding half of my yarn onto a separate ball to enable me to knit 2 strands at once, I was off…

I cast on my 31 stitches, ribbed my way along the first row and then realised that ribbing alone was not going to make the very fat, pleat-like stitch shown in the picture. The rib I had just created was tight and the tea cosy in the shot looked rather comfortable in a much looser incarnation. Reading on in the pattern, I realised that in essence, I had to drop every second stitch, then purl it one row further up. It took me an hour to do the first two rows in this confusing manner, and after 4 attempts and the entire morning, I had only managed to make it to row 6.

So I did what I usually do in these situations – gave up and decided to try making the cosy my own, cack-handed sort of way, as two halves of a hat to be sewn together.

Though this cosy will look really cool when it’s finished – I will take pictures, but you won’t get to see them for AGES because this is me starting on the birthday and Christmas gifts for the coming year – I really regret not persevering and following the pattern properly. I think that once I’ve finished this one, I will go back and attempt to learn the real tea cosy stitch which was considered easy not half a century ago. I don’t want to be one of those people who opt for the quick fix because everything needs to be done this second – if something is worth doing then it’s worth striving for. And if no one bothers to carry on these skills because they’re a little bit tricky to master at first, then we’ll lose them.

Whoever thought knitting could make you feel so guilty…


*I don’t mean I’m one of those people who go around gushing about their feelings – I was born in Yorkshire and raised in Scotland so that’s never going to happen! I just mean that I hanker after a simpler time when sewing machines worked, cars didn’t have voice commands and mobile phones were the fevered dreams of science fiction writers.

** I really should have learned my lesson by now