Making farewells

‘Farewell’ in both senses: saying goodbye, and wishing the best for others… and in this case the wish to do one is only propelled by the wish to do the other. I should explain: these projects were some of the bits I found in the attic recently, and resolved to pick up from my childhood and finish. This little jumper was what I was doing at the end of a long spate of knitting tops and blankets for Oxfam in the 1980s, when me and my Nan used to pick up wool from the tiny poky charity shop and go away and knit it into warm garments and squares to return for them to send to Africa. The stripey top was unfinished and most of the colours long disappeared.


So how to finish the jumper? (I’ve had similar problems with other salvaged long-ago projects.) Starting with the ‘front’ (shown on the right) I just carried on with the orange that was still joined on, I suppose in the vain hope it would finish the whole jumper, but I had underestimated the depth of arm that would be needed – which is odd because the other side (‘back’, shown left) was already cast off, but too short. So I took up a dramatically contrasting dark grey (having held up other shades against it for match, but new colours were all too much) and worked in garter stitch for stretch right over the shoulders and down the back so that that cast-off edge met on the other side.

And that’s not all 😉 I split the yoke in two so that the little bairn’s head would have something to go through – Oxfam’s pattern say that having too small a head hole is a common design flaw that makes the top useless. No such danger here – there is a fetching framed neck-split at the front and a shaped neckline around the back, after which I worked the two sides back together, following my shaping instincts. This top still looks familiar all these years later and its stripes and colours are comforting – it won’t be a big wrench to see it go, but it will need gearing myself up to… but it’s only fair, as it belongs to them, and it’s only about 25-30 years overdue! My, doesn’t time fly!


These squares, like the jumper, will be for the charity Knit-A-Square (as I think Oxfam* don’t do the same system any more). They ask for 8-inch squares, and you may have seen some of my previous creations on earlier pages :-). These eight little squares I found were each only 4 inches square, so I thought, well, I’ll stitch them together to give two bigger squares of the right size. As I did so I noticed their slight curvature and the different stitch of the maroon in the turquoise one, and realised they were almost certainly made by my Nan, now twelve years’ dead. I felt a reluctance to send away to an impersonal place one of the few bits of my Nan I had left and such a characteristic part. But what’s to be gained by keeping them? And someone will appreciate them dearly. I tuned into my Nan’s qualities, and could hear her modestly saying ‘Oh, send ’em off. Don’t be silly!’ so I realised it’s what she would have obviously wanted. So farewell squares and fare well chilly people in winter Africa.

[*Edit: Oxfam now sell the hand-made blankets at music festivals, and good quality knitted garments in their shops, which doesn’t feel quite as motivating to me. Not the same as someone in Africa having something you made for them out of love.]

About slipk2not

Should know better
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1 Response to Making farewells

  1. my mom and i also used to knit for oxfam in the 80’s ! I wonder if you and your nan saw the same leaflet which insipired us. As we were from SA the picture of the woman with the blanket around her holding her baby on her back made us totally nostalgic. I’ve now swapped to crocheting for KAS

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