Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Magical Mystery Tour




I have recently discussed my new found enthusiasm for Nancy Bush's
Knitting on the Road. Not only are the patterns in the book appealing, but the concept of the book is an intriguing one. Each pattern relates to a certain place that the author has visited. One of the most popular patterns in the book--Conwy-- happens to relate to a place I have a very strong personal attachment to as my grandparents lived there for my entire life and we visited them there nearly every summer.


For a time North Wales was the place to which English from Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire retired to--sort of like Arizona in the United States. After a life of frugality and saving, they bought a cottage in
Llandudno, the town next to Conwy. Their cottage was perched on top of a large hill from which you could see Conwy Castle, the inspiration for the Nancy Bush pattern. Their back garden opened onto a large green pasture (see A.D.D. Knitter, c.1970, pictured above) where local sheep grazed and shepherds trained their work dogs. Working on the pattern I thought about my grandparents and the magical place that they lived and enjoyed revisiting the time that my family spent with them.
Specs:
Pattern: Conwy from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug
Needles: Size 2 circular
Mods: It seemed entirely appropriate to use a Welsh yarn for this project. Colinette Jitterbug is a dream to knit with--very springy à la STR. I modified the pattern and did it toe-up using the Magic Loop method as I have sworn off cuff-down forevah.


As children my brother and I spent many carefree hours playing behind my grandparents' cottage on the hill. When I was an older adolescent I would take my diary, climb up to the top which was craggy and steep, watch the clouds roll in across the bay and dream about my future. North Wales was pure magic, and as an adult I realize how fortunate I am to have been imprinted by my experiences there. I am curious: What special childhood places have left an indelible impression on you?

36 comments:

Faith! said...

These are so pretty! I love seeing how people connect significant places to their knitting. I live in Brooklyn but whenever I go to Vermont I pick up local yarn and it makes me feel like home when I'm back in the city.

sophanne said...

You are so fortunate~

Given the circumstances of my growing-up time, I'd have to say that I am living the times that I will look back upon with fondness.

The up side of that is that I have been able to maintain a certain childlike view of the world long enough to recognize it's value and hang on to it.

This was a beautiful post.

kim said...

What a lovely post. Your childhood must have been so special.

I made those socks in grey and beige (what else?). It's a great book.

Diana said...

I grew up in California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I can see beauty in just about any landscape, so I love sightseeing.

Diana said...

And the socks look great!

Editrix said...

I love how places affect and resonate with us. Your North Wales photos and memories are beautiful!

My special childhood place was the lake cottage first owned by my grandparents, and then later by my parents.

There was nothing fancy about it -- a cedar-shingled two-story cottage in northern Indiana -- but it was peaceful, and I swam and learned to waterski, and I felt calm and peaceful there, staring at the stars at night.

Lazuli said...

I love the Conwy pattern! I think I've been marked by the forests of New England (snowdrifts, fall leaves, gentle springs) and the grandeur of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California - they can seem worlds apart.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin said...

I remember my grandparent's house so vividly. We spent many a summer day there swimming in the pool with my cousins while my grandma made us chocolate chip cookies. She had this tray where she would put out a wide assortment of soda for us. I remember being wet in a towel and eating warm cookies and drinking a newly opened soda laughing with all my cousins. Those times just remind me of how lucky I was to grow up with a lot of family around.

Angela said...

I'm working with Jitterbug right now, as well. My childhood was not very exotic. My parents were very young when I was born (oooops!), so I lived with my grandparents on their farm in eastern PA. I have a lot of very fond memories of hanging out in the barn during milking time, being surounded by dogs, cats, cows, rabbits, pigs, chickens, etc., and playing checkers and drinking coffee (!!!) with my great-grandmother down in the summer kitchen. My memories are very sweet, but I was a city mouse living the country mouse life, even then!

Ann said...

The socks look so lovely! I also knit my socks toe-up which I think is the best way! Thanks for visiting my blog.

tiennie said...

I love those socks and those pictures!

Jen said...

That is such a cute photo of you in the grass. Love the hair! :)

I spent summers split between my two grandmothers' homes in Alabama. My dad's mom was a very beautiful and glamorous woman, a very true Southern belle. When she divorced my cheating grandfather soon after I was born, she took off around the world with a girlfriend. Her condo on the lake was filled with exotic items from Asia. My love of travel is definitely her influence. She gave up college to get married, and was particularly wounded by an ugly divorce at a time when it was shocking to do such a thing. Not a summer went by that she didn't tell me to make sure I learned to take care of myself first. There will always be time for boys, she'd say.

Sonya said...

What a lovely place to spend childhood summers! I spent lots of time on my grandparents' farm. I can remember laying upstairs in bed early in the morning listening to Amish buggies clip-clop by and my grandma bustling around in the kitchen.

Karen said...

Wow, what great pictures!! The socks are gorgeous, and the beautiful pictures of Wales are incredible. How great to have those special memories in your mind while knitting those socks.

As for me, I always remember my grandparent's flower shop. It wasn't fancy or in some exotic location, but it was so much fun to visit every week. Sometimes I'll walk into a flower shop today, and the scents will bring me right back to Pop-Pop's flower shop.

nicole said...

When I was a child we visited my grand-parents in the maritimes. The need to see the ocean is still so strong in me, I absolutely crave it and dream of a day I might live by the sea year-round.

Thanks for sharing your lovely childhood memories. The socks are so beautiful, and I do envy your toe-up magic loop skills! Gotta get on that!

aquaknits said...

Beautiful pictures! It's great that knitting those beautiful socks brought up such nice memories.

My childhood was very much more on the urban side of things. I miss that great breeze when flying down the street of a steep hill on my 10-speed. :)

knitseashore said...

It's wonderful to have a project that brings back such happy memories for you! We always took road trips during the summer with my parents, so just getting in the car and going on a long drive during the summer makes me happy. Stopping for ice cream and fruit at roadside stands was also a treat! As an adult, any place by the ocean sets my soul singing. I can't be inland in the summer. :)

Lone Knitter said...

What a beautiful and special blog post. I love how the pattern was so meaniful to you. Thanks for sharing your pic with us. Adorable!

Sarah said...

Had to ammend my comment. Geography was never my best subject.

I have been reading a book to the girls called, "A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes". I think your sock is a pocket full of memories. I know, I know, corny, but true. It knitted up quickly too. Love it!

I have two memories from my childhood that stick in my mind: Going to stay with my nana, which included trying on all of her dresses, and 'helping' her sell dry goods at market (I was little and would stand on a bucket, and I probably ate more cherry pie filling than helped); Going to the east coast and smelling the salty, seaweedy smell of the atlantic.

uberstrickenfrau said...

So, this means your english? Coool. Wish I could hear you speak, I'm an anglophile, in a good way! I grew up in Alb.NM and the trees there are filled with cicadas and they are soooo loud. Every time I hear cicadas I'm a kid again..... And scared spitless because they would fly out of the trees and get tangled up in your hair and it would fill me with terror .

~Kristie said...

Although I loved seeing the photo of you beautiful Conwy socks, I especially LOVE the photo of you. It's precious. Thanks for sharing your memories.

My special childhood place was my great grandmothers home in Seattle. She had this amazing sunroom that was the entrance room to her house and it was about the size of a postage stamp. There were quite a few plants in there that weren't watered frequently enough, shelves and shelves of little knick knacks that I'm sure held special memories and one overstuffed chair where'd I sit and read for hours. The house is gone and so is great-grandma, but the memories live in my head forever.

two sticks and yarn said...

Wow! Great socks. I knit a pair of those for my mom last year for her birthday. They were such a fun knit. Have you knit the Denmark ones? I enjoyed those as well.

Tricot Treat said...

I was born in New York City to a Welsh mother and German father. When I was all of five months old, my parents brought me to Wales and Germany to meet my grandparents. Of that trip, of course, I remember nothing. But several years later, when I was about eight, I visited Wales again to spend some time with my grandmother. She lived in a quaint house in Cardiff. That trip left a very deep impression on me. Coming from an urban environment, I had never in my life seen SO MUCH GREEN. Normally a bookish, indoorsy child, I spent almost all of that vacation outdoors. To this day, the first association that comes to my mind whenever Wales is mentioned is GREEN.

Thank you for sharing your childhood memories, and thanks especially for reminding me of mine.

Cymru am byth!

5elementknitr said...

What a lovely picture of you! What an idyllic setting for youth.

The mountains have always been a place of good memories for me. Now that I live near Denver, I'll never be without them again!

robin said...

I love the pictures! I didn't realize that North Wales was a popular retirement spot. I have been to England, Ireland and Scotland, but have not made it to Wales yet (and would love to.)

We didn't do much traveling when I was a child, but beaches are my favorite places now, even in cool weather. Our own local Lake Michigan is best for cool weather (as the water never gets warm enough to really swim anyway) - I love walking by the lakefront on a cool fall day, in my favorite jeans, with a great cup of coffee.

a friend to knit with said...

Those are so beautiful, and I love how you reminisced while knitting them. I can see why you are so fond of those memories. What lovely photos.

Being at my grandparents for a week alone every summer is always a special memory. Just being with them, doing daily chores and enjoying their slow life.

schrodinger said...

I love those socks, not only do they look great, but they inspired that great post. I was lucky enough to spend summers either in the highlands of Scotland, or various parts of Wales, either camping, or visiting grand, or great grand, parents - I think my granddad knew every single castle in Wales. It rained a lot, but it was so pretty and the memories make me smile.

Woman who knits said...

They look great and will keep memories for you! I too have sworn off cuff down. I can't believe how much faster (for me) toe up goes!!!

Love the socks!

James said...

Wow. Now all of my pattern choices seem so shallow. Those socks are beautiful and I'm so glad you found a knitting pattern that means so much to you. My happy childhood place is Joplin, Missouri. It's a small town that didn't develop much after the late sixties. My Dad's family lives there and I spent every summer there until I was about 13. Joplin's number one product is children produced by a talented labor force of unwed teen mothers. I guess an appropriate knitting pattern would be some kind of baby blanket with an intarsia Metallica emblem.

Romi said...

Beautiful socks and the story is absolutely wonderful! Thank you for sharing it. :)

Gingersnaps with Tea... said...

Wales is lovely! Aren't you glad you got your mitts on some Jitterbug? Great socks too.

Rita said...

Thanks for leaving a comment, yes Ravelry's great, I'm having a lovely time playing with it.
Lovely post, I spent a great deal of time on my grandparents farm - getting my wellies stuck in mud is one memory! Oh, and thanks for posting about the Kauna sweater, I'd forgotten how beautiful it is.

sprite said...

I love Lladudno. I saw the most magical sunset there once.

Dove Knits said...

The color you picked for those socks is PERFECT.

When I was little, my family would vacation in Riga, Latvia, every summer. I loved it.

JulieFrick said...

I think I was already all over this question in my posts about Nags Head, North Carolina and my grandparents' cottage. Oh, how I miss it! I LOVE the photo of you here.