Whilst scrambling about in our very dark, somewhat musty, field mouse ridden, and disorganised loft, I stumbled across something that made me come over all sentimental, reminiscent and emotional. I found my Nanny King’s little blue knitting case.
My Nanny King was called so because she was from the King side of my family; my mother’s side. The other nanny, from my father’s side was known as Nanny Ethel. I never quite figured out why one was named by surname the other by first name. She passed away when I was 16, and she had spent most of her last years quite poorly in hospitals, so all my real memories of her come from when I was much younger and she was still very active.
I remember odd things about her; the way she smelt of face powder and violets, her carrots were the nicest and sweetest I have ever tasted, how she was scared of her microwave (she was convinced it would give you radiation poisoning), when it rained she wore one of those see through plastic rain hats (I think I might try to make those the new fashion trend of 2010), how she used to put a little plastic cowboy on the box that contained the ringer of her phone so that she could tell if someone had tried to call her (which I never fully understood because she wouldn’t know who it was that had tried to call anyway thus making it all a bit pointless but very endearing), her horn rimmed glasses, how she would put empty glass milk bottles along her windowsill so that if someone broke in in the middle of the night she would hear them and be ready to strike – forgetting she was 7 storeys up, see through pears soap on her wash basin, a china doll on her bed that had red painted finger nails, and the crazy old lady who lived next door to her that loved saying “up yer bum”. The other thing I remember about her was her knitting, and her little blue knitting case.
I wish that she was still here so I could get to know her better, I kinda took her existence for granted growing up and I feel immensly guilty for that now. I found out recently that we share a love for the same hobbies; she used to be a dressmaker, something I am very passionate about and am doing numerous courses in, and she was a brilliant knitter. I wish she was here today so that I could learn some of her talents from her. She tried to teach me how to crochet when I was about 7 but I threw a massive paddy after about 2 minutes and she never tried again. I’d love to learn from her now.
When I opened the case, I suddenly felt as though I was back in her little Brixton flat. There was a faint smell of her on the wool. I even remember her using some of the wool that remains in there. I miss my nanny, she was an amazing woman and very inspirational. I wish I had a chance to know her better and still have her in our lives.
Inside that little blue case is a bewildering array of knitting needles and crochet hooks that have not been used in many years. They are sadly not fulfilling their knitting destiny, and this weekend I intend to remedy that. In an ode to my nanny, I will arm myself with a pair of needles and attempt to conquer my fear of knitting patterns and try to figure how to knit something other than a scarf. I plan to do so without developing Tourettes and without causing harm to myself or others.