What does knitting have to do with tea? For me it is almost an integral part of the process. When I sit and knit I usually have tea at hand. The only exception is evening knitting, and as I like strong tea the caffeine kick has started to keep me awake in the last few years.
Tea was part of my growing up as well. Our family are tea drinkers, both my father and my mother grew up with tea as part of the family tradition, and my children both drink tea. Tea may have been a family traditon, but each family drank tea differently.
My Mother and Granny both thought that a fresh pot of tea meant adding more water and another tea bag to a pot that was kept warm on the stove – I grew up drinking extremely strong tea. My Father and Granny Nellie liked tea as well – but this was quite a different pot. Tea was ceremonial, you always started with loose tea and a warmed pot and while it was strong it was never stewed! The tea was usually Irish Breakfast or Earl Grey. I can drink any type of tea but prefer tea with ceremony. At home the tea is loose, the pot is warmed and is always fresh!
I have been thinking on both of my Grannies this last year, and the other women of my family – and about the gift of craft that they have given me. Every woman, on both sides of the family, of my mother’s and grandmother’s generation, had a craft that they loved and practised. All knit, some better than others, all crocheted, and some created practical items and others the less practical. My mother knit, crocheted and did petit and needle point. The petit point and needle point were her favorites – my home is filled with her pictures mostly florals and tapestrys, but some portraits, like the ones above.
Both of my Grannies prefered crochet – at least I think that they did, most of what I remember them doing was crochet.
My Granny Baptie was very practical. She did not collect many things, at least not until later, and then she started to collect miniatures. But I remember her best as being very practical, and not liking lots of “dust collectors” as she called them! It was when she crocheted that she allowed herself to be less than practical, her doilies were works of art, always starched and laid out with the small ornaments that she allowed herself. She created doll clothes for small dolls that I remember playing with as a young girl. Granny always had these dolls on display high on a shelf. I have those dolls and everytime I pull them out I am reminded of her and my childhood. They are faded and worn and their hair is falling out, but the memories are always strong.
My Granny Nellie, was very feminine and loved pretty things, she collected china, bed dolls, jewelery and china figurines and all things royal. Going to see her meant that we were dressed up, usually, and had to behave ourselves (well mostly). She was always crocheting something, but they were always practical, afghans were her favorite – I still have two of them. But she also crocheted Table Cloths – I have one of those as well. These were things of beauty and grace and looked beautiful on the dark rich wood that she liked.
It is always amazing to me how the tangible things can tie us so firmly to the intangible. The memories that fade can be sharpened by the sight of something thought forgotten, or by the action of hands as they create something new. I beleive that there is a direct link from me to the women of my family through the actions of our hands as we sit and share the crafts that have been practised through the years by the women of our family.
I have many cousins and most of us have some creative craft that we love to do. I think that most of us knit, and some sew. But we all are lost without something to do with our hands. The generation coming after us also knits and is therefore connected to the women before. The connections grow stronger with each generation.
For the Women of my family and all crafters – teach, share, connect.