Nostalgia is a way of remembering people, places and things. Almost a walk down memory lane. Like a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former person, place or time.
Did you know that nostalgia is in fact a potent mood booster. It makes you more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people in fact use nostalgia to literally feel warmer. In fact thinking of good memories for just 20 minutes a day can make you more cheerful than you were the week before, and happier than if you think of your current circumstances, report researchers from an international university.
Since memories often star important people in our lives, they may give us a comforting sense of belonging. According to studies by psychologists, people who write about a nostalgic event are more cheerful after the exercise, compared with people who write about an everyday experience
Some of my fondest memories are of my granny who taught me to knit at a very young age. After she passed away at the age of 94, I was fortunate to be given two of her treasures. One was a handmade cameo which I wear regularly and the other is a granny square blanket that she lovingly made many years ago. Both are a reflection of who she was, colourful, unique, creative and smart. I will always treasure these two items and will one day pass them on to another family member.
I asked a number of friends and fabulous yarn icons who and what are they specifically nostalgic about. What each person has shared with me is so special and endearing. My love for yarn started with knitting. I’ve been intrigued and influenced especially by Stephen Wests’ knitting (his quirkiness and playfulness is amazing) .
This is what Stephen West feels nostalgic about:
‘The photo below is of construction workers in Reykjavik. I think it’s fantastic that they’re wearing their neon gear with the handknit lopapeysas with the elbows worn out. I love Reykjavik and get so much inspiration from my visits there, so this photo sums up the magic you see while walking the streets everyday.
The photo below is me riding my bike in Urbana, IL with all my designs from Westknits Book One.
I started designing patterns in that town and found my first local yarn store there. I have so many wonderful memories from riding my bike and knitting in that neighborhood. It was the beginning of Westknits!’
The Hellohart team have bought a couple of his patterns on Ravelry and Elsbeth says she can’t wait to start the dotted rays shawl.
Stephen is a trendsetter in the true sense of the word. As Elsbeth says: if he was a ball of wool he would be a ball of neon yellow! Just watch his youtube channel and you’ll see what I mean.
Michelle du Plessis is a South African living in the Netherlands and owner of the Scaapi webshop.
Scaapi specializes in selling unique quality yarns produced with love in South Africa. Michelle loves handmade goods, textiles, pattern, print, vintage, wool, felt, knitting and anything AFRICA to name but a few.
Michelle sent us an image of a crochet wine coaster that her grandmother made. As Michelle says, “I remember these from back home. My mom used them on high days and holidays when she cooked up a storm. I now only have one left and I do treasure it as my parents have passed away. It is delicate and I can now, as a grown up, appreciate the skill it took my granny to make this delicate coaster. I hope to one day replicate it.”
Michelle’s second treasure is a beautiful MaXhosa knitwear jersey and she says that “ In the winter this jersey forms my winter work clothes and I wear ‘proudly SA’ when I visit customers. I always get a lot of compliments for it and it makes me feel truly South African. Why I love this design so much, is because of the colours and the patterns. We are what we grew up with and my inherent colour pallet that really resounds with my soul are the colours of Africa in all their glory. I love mustards, emeralds, rich purples, deep blues, rich jewel colours and lots of ochre. I also love strong graphic patterns and the patterns made by Laduma of Maxhosa knitwear are based on Xhosa tribal beadwork. For me as an Eastern Cape girl, nothing can take me back home more than wearing something traditional from the region I come from. I love powerful images and the combination of black and bright colours. I studied textile print design and since I was a child I have always been drawing repeat patterns. I also love the Maxhosa jersey a lot because it is of excellent quality and made from South African merino and mohair yarn. I was privileged to buy this jersey from it’s designer Laduma Ngxokolo when he was in the Netherlands and this makes it even more special as I admire Laduma as a knitwear designer.”
Brenda Grobler says that her mother was a prolific crochet fanatic. “Some of my earliest memories include seeing her with some form of crochet or knitting on her lap.
She must have made hundreds of baby outfits, all without a pattern and all in the thinnest yarns imaginable. I think I get my love of clean lines in crochet from her. All her work was slick, clean and without any fiddly stuff or embellishments. I can’t recall seeing her ever work with bright yarns. She also didn’t enjoy doing larger projects such as blankets. Her thing was baby outfits, although she sometimes deviated and would make one of us girls a top or something similar. The top that I included here was made for me when I was in my late teens or early twenties. I’ve been wearing it on and off for just over two decades and it still looks great. It’s something I’ll never get rid of. The baby clothing was made for my children. I keep it safe in the hopes that one of my daughters’ might use it for their babies one day (they’re quite sentimental, both of them, so chances are good!).
My mom will be turning 84 this year, and sadly has old age dementia. This disease has robbed her of her memories, and also her crochet skills. She can barely remember how to do a treble. It’s terribly sad, but I believe her love of fibre arts will live on in me, as well as both my daughters, as they are turning into quite accomplished crocheters in their own right.”
Stephnie Fogwill sent me a few photos of nostalgic items all made by her dad’s mom.
“My mother’s mother passed away recently and shortly before her death I asked her about two blankets that were always at hand and often covering her knees. Turns out it was made for her by my other grandmother. My two sets of grandparents were great friends who often went on holiday together after they had all retired.
These blankets are very dear to me as it seems like a little something from both of my grandmothers. I also have a collection doilies made by my wonderful grandmother. She was a bit of an earth child who recycled long before it became fashionable and the doily with shells specifically represents who she was.”
Fellow Blogger and great friend Elsbeth Eksteen is truly a creative spirit that inspires me with the magic she does with yarn. Her granny holds a special place in her heart as she was responsible for the fabulous fashion that adourned Elsbeths dolls…
”My granny, Ouma Bessie, was a beautiful woman.
She always dressed up, even when she just stayed home to cook and clean her home and she was the mother of 6 children!
She introduced me to the joys of knitting.
My sister and I used to visit over weekends and my granny always knitted clothes for our dolls.
Little knitted outfits for Cindy (we didn’t have Barbies) and baby doll clothes for our babies.
She could knit a pair of booties and sweater for our babies in no time- she was that good!
Whenever I see little doll clothes I remember siting close to her while she knitted little outfits…”
Cornel Strydom is a unique talened individual that I am fortunate to call “friend”. Cornel has the most amazing ability to create something that is so unique yet at the same time so simple that you ask yourself “now why did I not think of that”. I love her authenticity and her creative spirit its always such a breath of fresh air just being in her company. Cornel’s special memory is the beautiful doily…
“Crocheted doilies make me feel nostalgic about the wonderfully happy times I spent with my grandmother, Ouma Hanna, on their farm near Bethal. I remember being in the farm kitchen with her, the cole stove burning, a kettle on top of it filled with near boiling water and a tray, set and ready for tea.
Ouma Hanna used rectangular doilies to line her tea tray, finely crocheted doilies with beads around the edge to cover the milk jug and keep the farm flies out, and larger doilies crocheted with cotton twine to set the dinner table with.
Although I don’t have a single doily that belonged to her, these small ornamental mats is my connection to her.
She was a fine woman who made do with what she had. She showed me that contentment comes from appreciating the little things in life, like doilies.”
It is strange how we hold onto the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures. I say take the best from the past, the best from our individual experiences and the best lessons we have been taught, and mould a future that is special, personal and allows you to revel in your real self.
Always look back with joy
The very lucky recipient of the 6 balls of MoYa yarn is Madeleine. Madeleine we will be contacting you shortly! congratulations!