Saturday, 27 June 2009


The fingers move deftly, and the clicking goes on rhythmically, while the ball of wool gets smaller, and beautiful creations drop from the needles.

This is my mother, who has been knitting for more than 60 years now. She loves it, and not even the heat of summer can keep her from handling the wool. She only had to hear of another great-grandchild on the way, than she arranged for wool to be sent from Delhi by my sister, and she started on a layette. And here it is.

My mother says that her first piece was for herself. As a new bride from Trivandrum in New Delhi, she was confident that she could face her first winter by knitting something for herself - she had after all learnt to knit in school. She says, “Babuji got me some wool in a budgie yellow shade, a pair of knitting needles, and a pattern in a magazine, and told me to start off. And that was my first knitted product – a blouse.” Though taken aback at first, she took it as a challenge and it turned out very well. The next one was for my father and after that – for me.

I must have been very young when she knitted sweaters for me first, for I spent my infancy and childhood in Delhi. And we all know what the winters there are like. I still remember the patterns of some of them. (That is me in 1949/50) My mother knitted for all three of us and for my father and herself.
After a few years spent in the south (read about it here), where we did not need any woollens at all, we came back to Delhi and then all of us needed sweaters. By then there were five of us. Maiji taught me also to knit, and we built up the basics for each of us. I could only do some plain knitting, but my skills also improved, and I could later on follow patterns from books. But with college and studies I could not do much. The collection of knitwear grew, and there was enough to keep us all warm.

Over the years, my youngest sister was the lucky beneficiary of my mother’s art. My mother made several items for her, so much so that Gowri became known as the daughter of the knitting lady among her friends’ mothers.

Apart from being a nimble knitter, my mother has evolved from being a pattern follower to a pattern creator – designer, if you will. I have really lost track of the number of sweaters, cardigans, layettes, scarves, shawls, ponchos (most of which are her own patterns) caps and mufflers, and even dresses (that is my niece wearing one of the pieces) she has designed and knitted. Fair Isle and cable patterns became child’s play to her. When I wore the poncho she knitted for me on my visit to my sons, the poncho was the in thing then, and I had inadvertently become ‘in’ too!

And here is my niece wearing a fair isle sweater created by Ma

Her creativity extends to an original too – the doll made totally with wool.

The doll is knitted and her clothes too. Scraps of wool make up the stuffing so that the doll is washable. Without exaggerating, I can say that she must have knitted at least a hundred of these for her grandchildren and great granddaughters, and as gifts to give to other little girls. Here the doll is resting on shawls knitted by my mother.

Maiji’s latest is making garlands of wool - some of them adorn the pictures of the deities in our pooja room. And I am certain she is already dreaming up something else.

P. S. Upon reading this good blog friend Brenda Bryant wrote this - it says everything about Maiji's kniting so beautifully! Do look at it.


Blogeswari said...

Superb stuff

Loved the doll! Your amma is a superstarini I say

Rinkly Rimes said...

Thank you for that. Tell Ma that there's a surprise for her on my blog! We Grannys must stick together!


A wonderful blog to read and the photo's were lovely.
My grandmother taught me to knit when I was a child, how it brought back lovely memoreis. thank you.


WA said...

Amazing stuff. Hats off to your mum

Lazy Blogger said...

The layette is sooooo sweet. Maaji has inspired me to learn knitting. It looks like such a productive and calming hobby. When i have some free time, i am going to look for classes and join one.

Rajesh said...

Hats off to you mother. Her creations are wonderful.

Winifred said...

I read about your mam at Brenda Bryant's site. What a lovely poem she wrote.

That was a lovely posting. What a tribute to your mam. She is so industrious, that dress is lovely.

My nanna taught me to knit when I was little. Well there was no telly then and I spent a lot of time with her and granddad. My mam was usually too busy to knit until we grew up. I do love knitting and crochet too, it's so relaxing.

I love your poncho. They are so useful aren't they. I remember crocheting my daughter one and over thirty years later they are in fashion again I'm doing them for my grandchildren.

The dolly is brilliant.

flowergirl said...

We are recipients too!

Meera's World said...

this is great.this is something i can never ever do.what great works she is doing!!you all are lucky to have a designer at home:).the lil girl looks cute in that beautiful sweater.

Sunita Mohan said...

As much as I was admiring your mother's knitting, I kept scrolling down to find her own creations. And then saw her dolls and garlands ... what a very talented lady, Raji!
And so loving too ... I loved what you wrote about her starting on a new layette the minute she heard about a new baby in the family.

Exile from the Real World said...

You are blessed to have MaJoy around you and spread the Knowhow, Love, Joy and Spirituality like fragrance from a good incense which raised your senses.

I loved the simplicity and the color mix of the presentation of the garland on 'Guruvayurappan'.

From the age of the picture frame and the special thumbnail shot of ascetic Ramana Maharishi, this MaJoys offering from deep within the respect and Love
for them in guiding her and the family.

I dont get much time to 'stop and semll the Rose' but I compensate by reading your blog to remind me of
what wonderful Life is


Blogeswari - muy mother laughed at that title!

Rinkly Rimes -that surprise was wonderful and the joy on her face was great to see.

Yvonne, thanks. Kniting is a wonderful pastime and so worthwhile too.

WA, Rajesh, Lazy Blogger - I am proud of my mother.

Winifred, thank you for coming here and writing.

Flower girl - :)
Meera's world We are lucky, really.

Sunita, the poncho, the fair isle sweater, the dress she is sewing up, and the shawls are all her own designs too.

Devika Jyothi said...

Oh that was a wonderful post, Raji :)

Oh she is an artist, my all means -- I am amazed...My greetings to her,

and know what -- a neighbour of mine here in Delhi once started teaching me knitting -- I have learnt it in school..but lost touch...and I could hardly make a sweater...somehow I didn't seem to have the patience it takes!

My wishes to Ma, again, and to you, Raji


Suchitra said...

Amazing ! Very talented :) I loved the doll and the gralands.. so creative

Unknown said...

WOW...she's knit all that and is still at it. She surely is blessed.

Brenda's post is a deserving tribute to your mom Raji...Thomas

Indrani said...

Amazing talent. did you file all the designs? And yours is one precious photo.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Raji:)


Your mother is really talented. Her creations are beautiful. The designs are outstanding.

In the south, as you said, warm clothes are not very useful. We used to wear warm clothes in Bhopal but they are not at all useful in Kochi.

Brenda's poem is fantastic.

The photos are excellent.

My best wishes to your fantastic mother.

Have a lovely day Raji:)

Chandramouli S said...

Wonderful! Maiji is just awesome.
I love crochetting myself - it's an exercise that calms my mind and gives you satisfaction, but only I don't find time these days :( What a bummer!

Maddy said...

you made me remember my mother - she used to knit and crochet,,,before her fingers got all gnarled up with arthritis and age...and the sweaters that she used to knit..thanks

Anonymous said...

Amazing dear!wonderful creations!

Viji said...

My favourite sweater was a pale blue and white Fair Isle Ma knitted for me - I simply loved it -and the Reindeer ones she made for us and we wore it to the Zoo. Mine was red , Raja's a bottle green and Gowri's a pretty shade of a pale green , almost turquiose and the reindeer in a neat row all of them a deep yellow...then the patchwork poncho I wore to college and later the gorgeous shawls that looka s though they have been chrocheted ..... Ma , my knitted hats off to you all over again !!!


Exile From The real World - I love the way you have made Maiji Ma Joy - and she is indeed. I am amazed that you could see the tiny picture of Sri Ramana on the Lord Guruvayoorappan's picture. My husband is a Ramana devotee, and Sri Ramana's pictures can be found everywhere in our home.

Devika, thanks on behalf of Maiji, too

Thomas, thanks for being so appreciative.

Indrani :) those old pictures are too much! My mother has saved them so cleverly. In her blog she has used pictures of my uncle's wedding which took place in 1952!

Joseph, thank you - from my mother, too

Swarna said...

I like the poncho, and I really hope you have nice knitting sessions with Maiji. Infinite joy in producing something with one's hands, and in Ma's case that is multi-fold.
(I only had good intentions about knitting when we were in Kanpur.)
And Brends'a verses are perfect - for one perfect lady from another.

Kamini said...

I loved reading this and seeing the pictures. Could fully relate, as one of the lucky recipients of Maiji's knitting talents!

sindhu said...

So nice...and so touching. Your mom is indeed an artist.

Ayyappan said...

That is some work..!! Amazing.. esp the doll..! :D

Nagesh.MVS said...

Nice collection MOm

Work From Home

ashok said...

Maiji's skills in various fields is just