By Alison Cram
I’ve been a knitter for almost as long as I can remember. I can only have been about four or five when Mum taught me how to knit squares to make into blankets. Well, they were supposed to be squares – mine were a little, er, wonkier than that.
That didn’t stop me, though and aged about seven I knitted a blue scarf for Dad. The finished result was full of holes and uneven stitches and looked more like a piece of fish net than something that would keep out the cold. Nevertheless, I had made it for him, so Dad would put it on and tuck it into his old jacket as he went out to do jobs in the garden.
I hadn’t seen the scarf for decades and presumed that it had found its way into the ragbag. Then last year I was searching for a box of cotton hankies for Dad and discovered the scarf, neatly folded at the back of a shelf, kept and treasured for all these years (excuse me while I stop typing for a moment, I think I have something in my eye).
As time rolled on my knitting gradually improved and I graduated onto jumpers, cardigans, hats and mittens.
It may sound a little strange to non-crafters, but knitting is part of my identity. Family and friends are always asking me what I’m working on at the moment. Fellow knitters and I will chat about wool and patterns and techniques. It really is knitted into the fabric of my life (sorry, couldn’t resist it).
And since I became Dad’s carer it’s been a lifesaver. I spend a lot of time with Dad just sitting. Sometimes I’ll be reading out stories from the newspaper or a magazine or we might be watching a TV programme together. History and travel programmes, such as Grand Tours of Scotland or Michael Portillo’s Great Railway. Journeys, are favourites. Often I’ll just be keeping him company while he rests. If he’s left on his own for too long Dad can become anxious – worried that he’s been forgotten or abandoned - so sometimes it’s important just to be there.
All in all, it’s a lot more sitting around of an afternoon or evening than I would normally choose and sometimes thatn can get a little frustrating. Which is where knitting comes in. I’m not just sitting there watching the clock; I’m doing something creative. I can enjoy the rhythm of the repetitive stitches, the gentle click click of the needles, the feel of the soft wool in my fingers. It’s almost a form of meditation, enjoyable and calming.
It’s also very flexible. Easily put down - if I need to take Dad to the toilet, fetch him a drink or mop up spilt tea - and equally easily picked up again. It’s the perfect carer’s hobby.
I think most carers need something like that in their life. Something that helps you to switch off from caring responsibilities, even if for just a short while. Something that can be done purely for enjoyment or can give a sense of achievement. For me it’s knitting, but it could easily be painting or poetry, tap dancing or stamp collecting. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just that it is.
I always knew that knitting could be fun and creative. I never realised it could save my sanity too.
If you have anything you’d like to ask about knitting or share what you knit and do to save your sanity, you can find me in ‘the pod’.
I’m in there chatting away with other carers, who I’m sure will be keen to help too. And to have a good natter!
We all need something to turn to help us switch off from our caring role. Often it’s something that’s been with us since childhood. Something that’s part of our identity. For @alison_cram it’s #knitting. What’s it for you? #familycarers #unpaid carers #hobbies
We all need something to turn to help us switch off from our caring role. Often it’s something that’s been with us since childhood. Something that’s part of our identity. For our correspondent in Aberdeen, Alison Cram, it’s knitting. What’s it for you? #familycarers #unpaid carers #hobbies #knitting