green cardigan

My memories of my nan involve her either cooking dinner, making a cup of tea, or knitting. She knitted impossibly tiny baby clothes for me and my sister, which then became useful for dressing up toys when I was a kid (and at some points even the cat). She tried to teach me a few times but my hands couldn’t do things the way hers could, she could knit beautiful jumpers and cardigans with her eyes fixed on the TV, her fingers only making the smallest movements and sending out rows and rows of perfect wool.

By the time I hit my teens her arthritis was so bad she couldn’t knit anymore. But she was so proud of her creations still. I stayed at hers for a few weeks once for work experience and I left my work cardigan on the tube. I was devastated and very stressed about what I was going to wear, so we went to her wardrobe and out of the piles of lovingly crafted items she pulled out a light green cardigan. I still have that cardigan, it sits in my wardrobe. I never wear it, it’s far too small, I don’t really wear cardigans anymore. I will never get rid of it.

The green cardigan is the only thing I have of hers now, after she died we got a bag of knitted jumpers and that was it, all there was left of her and our relationship. I couldn’t bring myself to open the bag so I left it with my parents, it smelt of laundry powder and a slight hint of tobacco smoke, just like her house did and that was too much. But the green cardigan stays, it reminds me of the quiet bond we shared, her desire to care for me, her amazing talent which she always downplayed because to her it was just something she did. She made those clothes for people because it was what she could do to show she cared and she was amazing at it. The crafts of women, particularly from her generation, are rarely given they deserve but I can see the skill and art in what she did and it is precious to me.

- Mel Reeve
Freelance writer, contributor to "Nasty Women: A Collection of Essays + Accounts on What It Is to Be a Woman in the 21st Century"


Popular Posts