Give Me A Child Until She Is Seven…

Mum and I Knitting

Aw, this blurry photo makes me really happy! It’s me and my ma, knitting side-by-side. I think Mum might be the second personality here at Didyoumakethat Towers. Anyone remember her showing me how to use an overlocker?


And what about when she received her Certificate of Excellence after a course withΒ English Couture?! (True Confessions – I am deeply jealous of this Certificate of Excellence. When oh when, shall it be mine?)


Here’s a tea cosy she made:


Oh, and here’s a whole little montage I did of the two of us together at Christmas:


I feel very lucky to have a mum who taught me at a young age to knit, tapestry, embroider and use a sewing machine. Look where it’s got us! We’re still laughing and comparing pattern notes now.

Did your mum teach you how to make things? Did someone else? Do you think it made a lifetime’s impact on you? (Yes!) More importantly, are you passing those skills down to someone else? Having my god daughter sat on my knee, learning how to knit, has to be up there amongst life’s great memories.

And now I need to interrupt this blog post in order to show my mum a new (to her) way of weaving in yarns. Oh, the warp and weft of learning…

Sidenote: very interesting Guardian article on knitting and yoga here today.

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59 Responses to Give Me A Child Until She Is Seven…

  1. CharleyGynn says:

    My mum is no good at anything crafty which makes me really sad….this post made me smile and I just can’t wait for my little baby to come out and I can teach her everything I know (so far not a lot but getting there) and we can sit at our craft table together xxx

  2. My mother taught me how to thread a needle, but that’s about it… She’s actually really good at knitting (I’ve seen some fisherman sweaters she made in the eighties) but she never has the time anymore to do anything with it, let alone teach me! So I taught myself how to sew and knit, and sometimes she looks over my shoulders and says something like ‘so, can you knit socks yet?’

  3. Ilona says:

    My mum made all my clothes – was a great knitter in the true old fashioned way. I have 2 teenage daughters though and neither of them are the least bit crafty despite many attempts on my part – maybe I’ll be the teaching granny??!!

  4. All fiber related talents skipped a generation, my mom is a gourmet cook and champion fashion shopper but can’t thread a needle. But her mom and aunts were the seamstresses/knitters so I was fascinated by their activities. However my mom is my biggest fan so it all works out πŸ™‚

  5. Sally says:

    My Mum is pretty crafty but she’s more into crochet than sewing. She taught an embroidery club at my primary school so she did teach me a bit of sewing. My Gran taught me to knit but I’m just not that fussed about it. I taught myself how to sew with some pointers from Mum and Gran and I am very proud to say that I have a three year old daughter who has spent the afternoon demanding to sew with me. She loves putting pins in the fabric, taking them out when they get to the needle and snipping the thread.

  6. Tina Claydon says:

    My late Mum Anne was a professional seamstress who was taught firstly by her gran and then trained at Swan & Edgar in London. She showed me how to sew and embroider and I now love to show my daughter how to sew and do most things crafty. Sadly I never got far with knitting due to her being right handed and me a lefty! When I get more time I aim to learn how to crochet. Sewing with my Mum and dodging pins all over the floor with my bare feet are very good memories. Really love your blog! It’s soooo inspiring!

  7. LinB says:

    Ma taught me how to sew and embroider. We taught ourselves to knit, crochet, and tat by reading Coats & Clark’s “Learn How” booklet. Her mother was an accomplished needlewoman. We’ve learned that several of our female ancestors supported their families with needlework, throughout the 19th century. So, we know where we get it from. My own darling daughter merely plays at needlework, but she is young, yet.

  8. Marie F. says:

    My mom was an amazing seamstress. It was her job before I was born. She used to sew all my clothes. I remember her buying clothes for her, copying them, and returning them. I still have a dress she drafted for herself based on one of my Barbie’s dress, kind of a flamenco dress, it was beautiful. She showed me how to sew when I was little, unfortunately I lost her when I was 14. I bet she would be proud to see that I restarted to sew last year, using her sewing machine, on a quest to sew all of my wardrobe πŸ™‚

    As for knitting, I learned young from one of my grandma, I remember bringing her the scarf I was knitting so that she can “repair” the stich I had dropped. Again, I lost both my grandma as a teenager, and I restarted knitting last year.

    I wish they were still around, to learn from them now that I am more passionate about it.

    • Petra says:

      Marie F, I echo your story, although I was 24 when my seamstress mum went, and my knitting nana a few years later. All my looming, weaving, crocheting, lace-making, quilting relatives are now also gone. It took me 15 years to be able to hear the sound of mum’s sewing machine I inherited without hurting, it was like hearing her heartbeat. Your last sentence is so true – that lurking regret…

      But miracles of miracles – all these amazing, wonderful sewing bloggers came along, which really has pushed some of my regrets of not learning more while I had the chance aside, and have enabled me to re-connect to all that love and care, what is the core of who I am and what I was meant to do. It’s given me a new sense of belonging. That sewing machine is SINGING now (it’s not a Singer, mind!)

      Thank you Karen for blogging, and choosing to write this post!

      • Marie F. says:

        Petra, you are right. All these sewing bloggers are amazing, sharing their passion and knowledge so generously, they are quite the inspiration πŸ™‚ It’s the discovery of this great sewing community that made me restart sewing. It’s is really amazing! πŸ™‚

  9. Julie Cruickshank says:

    My Mum is very crafty! She always made soft funrnishings and clothes when working full time but since retirement she has had a go at most things. One of my most treasured possessions is a Christmas quilt she made for me last year. Having been disappointed with her attempts at machine quilting it lay untouched for three years until I bullied her into finishing it for me. I hope it will be a heirloom for my granchildren. My Mum will be 80 next week and has recently reorganised her sewing room ready for Christmas makes! I teach 7/8/year olds and they love sewing, we’ve made versions of the Bayuex tapestry this year and just embarking on a quilt (we’ve only dyed the background fabric so far) The air of excitement is wonderful and we have such lovely chats over the needle and ‘string’ ! Mum will come into school and help me once the serious applique begins of course!

    • LinB says:

      Oh! “Needle and string!” I love it. I’m going to steal this phraseology, it is adorable. So glad that you are nurturing the next generation of Makers.

  10. Stephanie says:

    What a lovely post and a lovely mom! My mom taught me the basics of both knitting and sewing, but only because I insisted. Although my mom learned all of the common crafts when young (she is an early baby boomer), she is terrible at all of them (for lack of interest, patience, etc.) I actually learned to sew after I begged her to make a dress for me for a school ceremony and it was a complete disaster! I always felt that for her, as part of that early feminist generation, knitting and especially sewing were viewed as tedious things that women were forced to do to maintain a household. None of the mothers of my friends sew or knit much either, although they learned how in school and at home when young. My generation and many younger than me, however, seem to be pursuing these traditional crafts with new enthusiasm.

    I’m Canadian but am in Italy right now and had a conversation about just this subject in a yarn and sewing supply store the other day (honestly, a very dangerous place for me and my wallet to visit when I am in Italy (where my boyfriend lives)…, but such a delight!). The older ladies who own the store were saying that for the generation of their daughters and for many of their generation, coming out of the poverty that they lived in before and after the war meant that once they could afford to buy things like clothes there was a new freedom for them. Now, however, they believe that younger generations are taking the crafts up again, but for different reasons than in the past – as an opportunity to put a personal stamp on things in this age of globalization. I am 43 and was rather surprised to discover, actually, upon surveying my Italian girlfriends of the same age, that many of them don’t know how to use a sewing machine or knit at all (I was surprised given the importance of clothing in the Italian culture as a whole and the sartorial tradition here). When the topic came up the other day though they all asked me to teach them.

  11. My mom taught me how to knit when I was 8 or 9 years old. She sewed too but never taught me. Now that I have a daughter, I try to teach her everything she wants to learn. I’ve taught her to knit but it doesn’t produce finished objects fast enough for her (she’s 5 years old). She also wants to learn to sew. I’ve helped her with little hand sewing kits to make plush toys and she likes it but needs a lot of hand holding. She wants to learn to use the sewing machine and we may do that soon. We also do projects together. I had her design two plush toys and pick the fabric and embellishments (felt, buttons, and embroidery thread). I did the work. Now she wants a family tapestry like in the movie Brave. I’m thinking of doing a combination of appliquΓ© and embroidery. It’ll be a lot of work for me but it’ll make her so happy…

  12. That tea cosy is AWESOME!

    I don’t know what I’d be doing if my mum hadn’t encouraged me to sew. And like you, I’m now in the position where I show her new techniques.

  13. Such an interesting topic! I have been thinking about how much influence my mom has had on my sewing and creativity a lot the last few months, I just finished an e-book designed to get beginners sewing, and I realized how much I owe my skills to her! She made most of my clothes when I was little. And she gave me access to any and all creative tool and supplies I could have asked for. She taught me how to sew and knit, and although she says I’ve surpassed her skills since then, I know it’s not true because she could always make whatever I asked for, even if it was one dress with the sleeves of another one, etc. I feel so lucky to have grown up in a family where handmade was really valued! It gave me a good outlook on self-sufficiency, consumerism, etc., right from the start. Not to mention a shared fabric stash.

  14. CGCouture says:

    My mother is an excellent seamstress, and also used to crochet and make doilies…but teaching isn’t one of her strengths. So yes, she taught me how to (hate) sew(ing). I don’t have any daughters to teach, but I plan to make my son learn a few basics in case he ever needs a button sewn on or something. πŸ™‚

  15. louise says:

    My dad used a knitting machine, my mother sewed and knitted, we are a large family. My Mum taught me to sew and knit, my early memories are of me turning the wheel on her hand cranked sewing machine while she sewed. I think she sewed out of necessity while her family were young, ( well they did in those days). I learnt to crochet at 13 , then I taught my Mum, this was the only craft she continued with for her own pleasure.

  16. Melizza says:

    Oh man. This made me all teary-eyed! My mother didn’t teach me to sew but my great-aunt (she raised me) taught me how to hand-sew. Nothing big but it helped when I had to mend a button in college. My great-aunt used to sew leather gloves in Puerto Rico as a teenager. One day I’d love to write a story centered on that image.

  17. Lovely post. Mum made all our clothes when my sister and I were children. She taught me to sew and embroider. She still sews but knits more these days. My Granny’s taught me to knit and crochet. My best knitting experience was teaching my 11 year old nephew to knit. He’s really good at it. Hope you’re having a lovely holiday. πŸ™‚

  18. Mary says:

    I am half Yank/half Brit (Mom was a British war bride). My mother was born in 1909 but had me late in life. She could knit, watch tv and read a book–all at the same time and never drop a stitch. She was also an amazing seamstress and regularly kitted me out in almost all my clothing from my earliest days and through my teens and 20’s, many made from Vogue patterns that she improved upon. She taught me the basics of sewing, knitting, and embroidery; I picked up needlepoint on my own. The trickiest part of learning to knit from her was me being a lefty when she was right-handed.

    Though she is gone now, I am thankful that her talent at least guided me to these skills. I still have the baby/toddler clothing she knit for my children, including some aran cardigans and Norweigan ski sweaters. Will happily pass them on to my adult children for their children (3 males with no interest in crafts and 1 female–who may be interested…in a few years).

    Good to see how much you enjoy your time with your Mother.

  19. Portia says:

    Your Mum is so gorgeous. She looks so squeezable!
    Alas my Mum has no practical leanings whatsoever. My Auntie taught me basic hand sewing. I think it was my Uncle who first showed me how to knit. My first try on a sewing machine was at school, then college. Then a break of about 20 years until 2009. That’s when I really started learning!
    I fully intend to teach little man whatever crafts he’ll let me. I mean, what woman’s not gonna love a man who can sew πŸ˜‰

  20. aww such a lovely post, my nanny taught me to crochet, wish she was still here to give me her tips! xxxx

  21. Jacqui says:

    My mum taught me to knit when I was 7, it took her a year and she said I was like “a cow handcuffed”! Crochet was a step too far, I learnt a few years ago at a knit and natter group (although to be fair my mum did help me out). She bought me a manual sewing machine when I was 19 because her Frister Rossmann was too fast and scary! I’m not as proficient as Mama Gill but I enjoy making things and I get that from her. She’s a great knitting helpline! A friend’s mum has taught me machine quilting. My daughter is 8 this month and I haven’t taught her yet, but she is starting to be interested (she loved the Great British Sewing Bee and wants to make a dress!) and I’m determined I will (her birthday presents include a cross stitch kit), I think it’s important to pass these skills on.

  22. Catherine says:

    How wonderful! Your mum is very clever. My mum was very influential in my craftiness. She taught me to Sew, knit and embroider. She would always make my school uniform dress, but she would make the sleeves and tie different to everyone else’s much to my dismay. The other day I mentioned to her about how for all these years i’d been inserting sleeves into the armscye wrong and she said “oh I could have taught you how to do that” but I didn’t think she knew how to because she never did it on my school dress! maybe ill call my mum next time with my sewing problems and not google!

  23. Caroline says:

    We have tailors and dressmakers dotted amongst our family tree, and I’m proud to carry on at least some of their skills. I learnt to knit from my Nana and sew from both her and my mum. One of my most treasured posessions is the sewing basket my Nana gave to me for my 9th birthday. My mum has just given my elder daughter a sewing basket for her 8th birthday πŸ™‚ She loves buttons and is beginning to make little clothes for her toys, which is lovely to see. She’s coming along to the Birmingham meet up too, I think she’ll enjoy a whole day rummaging through fabrics and haberdashery. I sew for both my girls, and a little bit for me too – it’s lovely to be able to share a creative hobby with them.

  24. Gaenor says:

    My mum is grew up making her own clothes, and lots of ours when we were children – we pretty much lived in Clothkits. As we were growing up we always saw her making stuff, but never really paid attention. It wasn’t until I had little girls of my own that I was motivated to investigate this sewing thing. Now Mum and I exchange tips (hers garnered by years of experience, me from the internet) and discuss our various projects. In fact our next task is to work together to create the clothes for my sister’s wedding.

  25. sewbusylizzy says:

    My mum taught me almost all my crafting knowledge. Dressmaking, patchwork, embroidery, knitting. I taught myself to crochet.
    I think she loves the fact I fill my life with creativity and that the gift of knowledge she gave me as a child provides so much joy. My own daughter has a sewing box and often borrows craft books from the library and teaches herself new skills on YouTube.

  26. VictoriaR says:

    I learned to sew from one grandma and knitting from the other. My mom sewed, but it was mostly Grandma and 4 H where I learned. I have a 13 year old daughter and my interest in sewing was re-ignited a few years ago when I decided I wanted to teach her and her friends some sewing. She is not as wild about it as I am, but has learned to use a sewing machine and has made a few things. I think it is really important to past all sorts of knowledge on to children, especially if they don’t even realize they are learning it! I love the pictures of you and your mum.

  27. My nanny taught me to knit, and my sewing machine and overlocker are hand-me-downs from her. My mum has no interest in anything crafty however and avoided doing or teaching any of that – so I’m glad I got to learn the little bit I did!

    I’m fully intending to teach any child of mine how to knit and sew, even if at the very least it’s how to sew on buttons and make basic repairs.

  28. Marie says:

    This post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside Karen! I love your mum’s appearances on your blog and she seems like such a sweetheart…a bit like you really ;o) Apparently my mum was a whiz at sewing (and not too bad at knitting either), but then I came along and ruined it all…ooops!

  29. Both my Nanna and Gran taught me lots of different crafts – knitting, crochet, dressmaking, spinning – and my Mum has always encouraged and supported everything I do. Heartfelt gratitude to them all! Aren’t Mums and Grandmas the best?!

  30. Paola says:

    My dear Mum is a better sewist and knitter than I will ever hope to be, but our lessons when I was a child always ended with me in tears, and my mother in a fit of exasperation with a child that just couldn’t do what to her was intuitive. To say her teaching and my learning styles didn’t gel is an understatement. Still, something must have rubbed off, because I claimed the dormant sewing gene in my forties. Knitting, not so much.

  31. Shar says:

    I love the pictures of you and your mum – you look like great friends! My mom had such a knack for all kinds of crafts. She also sewed and did crewel and cross stitch. She helped me sew the obligatory 7th grade wrap skirt for home ec class. Unfortunately I didn’t take up sewing until late last year, four years after her passing. I do feel connected to her every time I’m at my sewing machine since I’m sharing something she loved to do. At 12 yrs old, my daughter doesn’t have the patience for sewing (yet), but she loves crafts and helps me choose fabrics.

  32. Hester says:

    My grandmother and my great aunt were both great needlewomen; both knitted and crocheted and made clothes for three generations, my grandmother did tapestry/embroidery, and my great aunt spent her retirement years making soft toys and selling them for charity. She taught me to use a sewing machine when I was a kid, and starting to make my own clothes a couple of years ago has brought her back into my life in a way; she died twenty years ago, and is much missed, but she’d be so proud of me. My grandmother too; I crochet blankets now, as she did (again, for three generations!), and it makes me feel close to her (she also died twenty years ago).
    Your mum has a gorgeous smile, and that tea cosy is fabulous!

  33. Rachel says:

    It’s awesome that you and your mum share that bond. My mum isn’t a big sewer (although recently I have been slooooowly converting her. My gran taught me to sew, and we still like to talk a lot about it. I wrote a post on my blog about my gran and her influcene on my sewing a while back:

  34. Barbarags says:

    How lovely to see these photos and the great bond between you and your mother. One of my memories as a very young child was sitting knitting with my mother, grandmother and great grand mother when visiting the latter. I wish I had learnt some more of their skills, especially tatting and embroidery. Then we knitted and sewed for reasons of economy but it is wonderful to see that young, and not so young people, are returning to creating their own items and expressing themselves in a world that seems determined to slot us all into pigeonholes and standardise us. Long may you, your mother and all you other creators fly the Flag.

  35. Julie Cruickshank says:

    To all the ladies out there! it is so uplifting to read your memories and to know that family bonds are always there. Thanks for this post I am enjoying reading the replies very much!

  36. How lucky you are to be able to share all these things with your mum and inspire each other.
    My mum taught me to sew and knit. She was always making something and was a very fast knitter (she had mastered the continental style possibly because she was left handed). We had all kinds of sewing and knitting gadgets in the house. Many of which I still have πŸ™‚ Unfortunately she died when I was 18. After I shared my passions with my grandma who was a wonderful seamstress but just couldn’t knit!! I’d love to be able to share with them what I’m doing now but instead I take with me the wonderful things that they’ve both taught me

  37. Lorna says:

    Oh Karen, what an emotive issue! The photographs of you and your mother are lovely, and some of the responses are tear-jerking. My mum isn’t remotely crafty – in fact, she thinks it’s all at best laughable (she’s always telling me I’m turning into a granny!) and at worst a huge waste of time. I ignore her though – both of my grannies were very creative. My maternal grandmother did everything from woodwork to jewellery to knitting, and my paternal grandmother was an awe-inspiring knitter and crocheter. She never used patterns, and knitted so fast her needles were a blur. We had everything from gorgeous blankets to pullovers to soooo many socks. I’m so sad that none survive – we lost my granny when I was a teenager, and my thoroughly modern mum binned all of her hard work. Breaks my heart, that does! I have a two year old who seems pretty desperate to crochet – she runs off with hooks and yarn, and i find her in a corner, face set in grim determination, trying to weave the hook in the yarn! Can’t wait to show her how to make things, it’ll be a joy. Thanks for raising this, it’s lovely to read everyone’s stories!

  38. maddie says:

    you and your mom look incredibly adorable next to each other. My mom didn’t know how to sew – I discovered the hobby after she died – but I consider the woman who taught me to sew my second mother. She took me under as her apprentice/mentee for two years and I still call her regularly to check up on her.

  39. Louise says:

    I love this post, and all the great comments! I knit, sew and crochet with my mum and my nan, and have many great memories of us all crafting away!

  40. liza jane says:

    I love that tea cozy πŸ™‚

  41. L. Marie says:

    I also love that tea cozy. Your mum is fab!

  42. I definitely learned from my mom– and my step-grandmother and step-aunt, too. My mom taught me to knit as an adult, but taught me to sew as a child, even if I didn’t pick it back up again until a couple of years ago. She has been my biggest crafty influence! I’m not around my nieces and nephews enough to have taught them any crafty skills yet, but my SIL has sewn and embroidered with her daughter, and I plan to make sure at least one of my nieces or nephews learns to knit!

  43. Linda says:

    Have you heard of the ‘Russian join’ for when you’re running out of yarn in the middle of a row? I recently learnt this from Youtube and it’s brilliant!

  44. Lorraine says:

    I loved wearing the beautiful dresses my late mom made when I was a little girl. there were special moments , when we made pillowcases together, I on her old Singer treadle machine & mum on her new sewing machine. I share her passion she had for sewing, she inspired me so.
    Sadly, I was ten when she died young, tragically in a car accident. To this day everytime I sew I honour her memory.

  45. Gjeometry says:

    Aw, so sweet, how great that you and your mum share the same interests. Happy Mother’s Day to your mum. And that tea cozy!!! I passed out for a moment, it is so fabulous.

  46. Pingback: Sunday Reading #4 | Crafting my own style

  47. photosarah says:

    My mom taught me how to sew and quilt when I was quite young. She was a quilting instructor for a while and worked at a craft store so she was always bringing home things for us to make and play with. Now that she doesn’t have time to sew and I’ve gotten back into it, she’s jealous of my sewing time! I hope that down the road we’ll be able to sew together again.

    My grandmother taught me how to crochet about a decade ago and I haven’t stopped. She also learned to sew with my mom when my mom was a teenager. I feel very lucky to have a crafty family! The more I blog and share the things I’ve made with them, the more crafty family history my grandmother shares with me.

  48. Wendyp says:

    What a fabulous tea cosy! It is just spectacular! I learned crochet, knitting and cross-stitch from my mom (we also did those things in elementary school) but I learned sewing in evening classes when I was about 20 years old. I stopped for a while and then picked up the thread (pun intended) a few years later and now I am completely hooked… I only just started blogging about it. And recently I rediscovered crochet and knitting too! πŸ˜€

  49. Stephanie says:

    Last year I took my knitting to visit my oldest friend ever and she was thrilled when I taught her the very basics. Her first scarf got finished in February. Next month we’ll meet have a go at her first sock. My son likes to knit (he hasn’t finished anything yet but that doesn’t matter, right, because he enjoys it and keeps trying) and from time to time I sew tiny (or not so tiny) projects with both of my sons. The last was a dinosaur and I didn’t read the description properly first. It turned out to be nearly two feet long!

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