Thursday, November 15, 2012

HAND-KNITTED SWEATERS: A SYMBOL OF LOVE NO MORE INTACT

MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
ISLAMABAD

I still remember that warm pink sweater my Grandmother knitted for me when I was a 9th grader. Though, Granny is no more around me, but this colourful sweater with all its warmth definitely is - reminding the affection and love of my Grandmother every winter. Khadija, a 27-year-old student while remembering her beloved Grandmother, said sweater knitting was no more a part of existing fashion because of a number of readymade products available in the market, but all readymade sweaters, cardigans, zippers, pullovers, uppers and jackets could not match the love of handmade product produced with love.

Often considered a mere pastime or hobby, knitting is actually much more than this but, unfortunately, with the usage of top technlogical gadgets hand-knitting also becomes a 'victim' of an onslaught of technology.

Knitting is a form of art. The different techniques used to make knitted pieces are truly extraordinary, let alone that beautiful, warm, fuzzy feeling they give afterwards, both literally and figuratively.

The tradition of knitting was widely practised around ten years ago, when mothers, grandmothers and aunts would do the exercise for their loved ones. Carrying the knitting kits with their assorted pins and needles and beautiful balls of wool, whether they were experts or just did it as a hobby, they used to sit for hours making chequered sweater vests for their husbands, children or grandchildren.

Although not as easily to be found as they once were, there are still ways to get your hands on quality wool. As always, the wool balls are found almost in every main market of the federal capital, while it is much easier to find it at old wool shops in Rawalpindi. They sell wool by ounce, and the colours are bright and delightful - golden yellow, tomato red, bright green, gleaming white - instantly attracting you to them. Home-knit sweaters retain an adorable quality with their fluffiness, making the cute toddler wearing them all the more susceptible to some through cuddling.

The craft has faded over the years due to a lot of reasons, one of them being the scarcity of shops selling wool. Schoolteacher Attia Imdad, who has held on to the forgotten tradition, told this scribe how and when she first learnt knitting, she used to have access to the best wools to make sweaters with. ABC wool was her favourite. She gave some other reasons why, in her opinion, this wonderful form of art might have died down.

She has seen the practice of knitting decline as the generations have passed, especially as women and girls get busier in their day-to-day lives. Working ladies have almost no time to sit back and knit after a hard day of work and suffering through the rough traffic, Attia says.

Of course, we must also take into consideration that we live in a country with mild weather where winter does not stay too long.

Attia said when she used to live in a cooler country, like Zimbabwe, she used to spend most of her time knitting perfect little sweaters for her family members. But now buying the funky, trendy sweaters and jackets from local markets where a wide range of items would probably be one’s first choice. “However, knitting a lovely cardigan for yourself every now and then would not only make others appreciate your hard work, you’ll feel proud of yourself too,” she said smilingly.

Attia also loves experimenting with her wool and designs on every chance she gets, accentuating the hint of affection that makes her gifts ever so admirable to everyone who receives them. “Knitting allows the artist the scope to experiment by striking new designs trying new colour combinations whether it be striped or checked, adding sequins, lace, beads, buttons and ribbons, or anything your fashion sense dictates,” she said.

The craft of knitting is not that difficult to master. You need to learn the technique, which puts your hands in a particular flow. Attia also talked about how knitting doesn’t even need much concentration. “All you need to do is get your hands into a rhythm. I had learned to knit from one of my friends’ mother. When I used to see aunt’s work and the products of her toil, I was intrigued. I then asked her to teach me and thus learned to knit at a very young age and have been doing it ever since,” she explained.

Of course, many women across the country are now among the working force and hardly have any time for even a proper meal throughout the day. But then again, there are mothers, daughters, grandmothers who can spare some time for their loved ones. When you get some free time and have nothing to do, you can always sit down and get knitting.

With chilly winter knocking at the door, why not open the gates and welcome it with some cosy, warm wool and your favourite knitting kit? But only if you have the time for your loved ones. HAPPY WINTER!

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Do u know anyone in islamabad who knits at home

Nazir sajid said...

Do u know anyone in islamabad who knits at home