Knitting is Sew Cool

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Recently I spent some precious moments with my Grandma when she visited me and my husband. Growing up in India, I lived with my Grandma who everyone calls Nanu. With my grandfather deceased she not only took over for him but also filled in for my parents when they were away for work for a few years. Some of my fondest memories from that time involve all the things she used knit and sew for me. From intricately knit scarves, socks, gloves, and beanies to beautifully stitched dresses, tops, pants, and skirts, everything Nanu made didn't just reflect her warmth and love, these pieces were stylish and fashionable too! She would even make dresses and accessories for my Barbie dolls. 

So when we finally got some extended time together, and now that our roles are a bit reversed and I get to sometimes take care of her, I decided to get some insight into her hobbies and interests. 

When did you first start knitting and do you remember what you made?

The first thing I knitted was as crochet lace at 9 years old. 

Who did you learn knitting from?  

I learned knitting from my mother and my grandmother taught me stitching, sewing and embroidery. 

What types of things were you stitching? 

I stitched various salwar kameez (Indian outfits) starting from 6th grade.  In 7th grade I did lots of embroidery and cross stitching, which I enjoyed a lot. 

My fondest memory is of you making sweaters when I was growing up, who did you learn that from? 

When I got married my mother-in-law made sweaters for everyone in the family. When she realized I liked knitting, she taught me how to knit basic patterns. Since then I have made sweaters for everyone. 

How do you get the design idea when making sweaters and where do you start from? 

I have a few books with various designs, or I can make them off a picture that anyone shows me. For example, you sent me the picture of a Christmas tree. It gave me the idea and I started working on it. Sweaters are always knitted from bottom up.  The spools of wool also sometimes come with new patterns to try. I've got my favorites, but sometimes I try different patterns out as well. 

Over the years have you noticed any difference in wool quality? 

Stores used to sell pure wool before that was really soft and warm. Now all I can find is a mix blend. I try to pick the softest kind. I have my favorite store in India that I always buy the wool from as they have the best quality of mix blend. The mixed blend makes the clothing easier to wash but it tends to fray more. I wish we could get that old style of wool. It may be related to cost since less people knit these days. Pure wool has become much more limited nowadays.  

Over the years you have made clothes and accessories for everyone in the family. What have been your most favorite ones? 

I love making sweaters, bed covers and table clothes for everyone as gifts. When you asked me to make Christmas sweaters I had lots of fun as it was something you really wanted. But then since I had a lot of wool left over, I decided to also make beanies and headbands. 

My conversation with my grandmother went on for hours, as I learned so much about her likes and dislikes that ranged from knitting to cooking to her favorite outfits. Here are just a few snaps of her most recent knitting that will be cherished forever. 

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