Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Tools of the trade

I love having the right equipment for a job.  When I was at university and exam time approached, before I could begin to revise I had to go to the union shop and stock up on pencils, highlighters, notebooks and post-its (there was probably also a bit of procrastination there)

It is the same with knitting.  I love bamboo needles, tiny scissors for snipping, row markers and sewing up needles for various weights of yarn to name a few.  And I love my needle roll.

It was made by my late father-in-law for my mother-in-law and his hand is all over it, literally in that even when writing numbers his distinctive draftsman's handwriting is easily recognisable.  Also in the material he has used, sturdy, suitable for the job and probably lying close to hand, left over from some other job.  FIL was in charge of what was called the 'special shop' at a furniture company in High Wycombe.  There they made up all the new designs and worked out how they could be made commercially.  FIL was intensely interested in design but it also had to be durable and  functional.  My husband's family were what was called locally a furniture family, FIL had followed his father into the business (JTH only nearly did).

This is a bit of a diversion but I just have to post the next picture here.  About 10 years ago in a clutch of postcards of High Wycombe furniture workshops in the 1920s and 1930s FIL was thrilled to spot his father, the manager of Ercol's upholstery section on one of the cards, here he is.

But back to my tools and another piece of furniture history.  Our old dining room table is a brilliant sewing table, long enough to cut out curtains and so old and scuffed that a few more scratches from scissors and pins make no difference.  I began life as a temporary board room table.

Scarily fires were a pretty common occurrence in furniture factories and one day fire damaged the factory where FIL worked to such an extent that there was not even a table left for the directors to sit at to decide what to do next.  It would be the job of FIL's team to make a new table; but as a stop gap he contacted a shop on the high street and bought the longest table they had in stock. When it was replaced it became someones desk then was pushed into the corner of a store room until JTH and I got married and we bought it together with a some other bits and pieces from the 'company store'.

Recently, when I needed something to keep all my small knitting tools I thought about the needle roll.  I needed varying sized pockets for all these little treasures (because when you have a stitch holder just the right size or a tape measure just when you need it ordinary things do become treasures)

So using two Cath Kidson prints and left over yarn from my stash I cut out lots of different sized squares and rectangles.  The yarn was used to knit a patch for the making up needles.

I love the relaxing process of hand finishing.

And so it sits on a side table, with glasses to hand, beside where I sit and knit


Anonymous said...

I have that same needle gauge.

I just got some new bamboo interchangeable needles - 30% off at Have just checked and they're already sold out though. I've been using the Denise set (made of plastic), supplemented by various sizes of Addis since I restarted knitting about 10 years ago, but I'm really looking forward to using the bamboo needles.

Florrie said...

What a fantastic way to store your knitting bits and pieces.....very clever.

florrie x

Denise said...

Hi there and thanks for leaving a comment at my knitting blog :) I've added you to my blogroll, love to read knitty blogs from England ;) I love that old bear in your post below.
Have a great weekend

The Barefoot Crofter said...

I went through a phase of buying old needle bundles from ebay. Now I have discovered the wooden Brittany needles, so I am slowly replacing my stock. Love your ercol story. Thanks for leaving a comment - now I know where you are. xx

Pen Pen said...

Beautiful! what a sweet story to go along with your treasures!!! I am sure your needle roll and sewing table give you so much pleasure. I have my father in law's old Bible (he died a few years ago). When I see his handwriting, it gives me so much pleasure... something I took for granted while he was living. :o)

Mom2fur said...

What a beautiful piece of family history, and it's even better with your fil's printing on it! And that table is just awesome.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who has tried to pull crochet work out from the wrong direction. Live and learn, right?

Little Blue Mouse said...

I love the roll you've made for your knitting tools and the fact that it has all the pockets for exactly what you want.

Catherine said...

Its so lovely to read all your comments, thank you so much - I'm off now to trawl the internet for information about some of those needles.