Knitting in the 1950s

12 July 2013
imports_CESC_0-8n3gveyb-100000_16296.jpg Knitting in the 1950s
Colin Black recalls the days when make do and mend and handicrafts were a way of life. ...
Colin Black recalls the days when make do and mend and handicrafts were a way of life. 

Make do and mend was a way of life for most people back in my childhood, I’m sure we all remember our Mother and Granny saving 'guid' brown paper and string from any parcels received. The knots in the string were always carefully loosened, the string was never cut, the brown paper was smoothed out, folded up and saved in a drawer with the string.

When my brother and I were at primary school we wore boots with leather soles. My Father kept them in tip top condition with his cobbler's last, this was a three legged cast iron tool that was inserted into the boots. He used the last when he put tackets (some people called them seggs) in the soles of our boots, which was supposed to extend the life of the soles.

In reality, it just made them better for sliding on the smooth concrete in the school playground shelter.

It was the same with our socks and jerseys, these were all hand knitted by my mother and granny –  the socks were always done by my granny, maybe because they were quicker to knit. When we wore holes in the socks and jerseys they were darned to extend their life, or maybe unpicked and knitted up into something else.

My father would have a go at making, or repairing, just about anything. I remember when one of our first televisions started playing up, a pal in the pub gave him some advice, so he took the back off and was poking about with a screwdriver while the TV was still plugged in. We all sat expectantly waiting for the picture to appear as my Father, squeezed in between the wall and the TV, poked about. There was a flash and a few choice words from my father, the back was then replaced and a man came in to repair the TV properly. You’ve got to know your limitations as far as make do and mend goes!

Modern products aren’t designed with home repair in mind, it’s very much a throw away society we live in now. Cars have so many electronic components in them now, they’re not designed for home mechanics to tinker with. I remember when the engine of an old car I had blew up. It was a Vauxhall Victor with a petrol engine. The mechanic who repaired the lorries where I worked at the time was an old man called bob, he said, 'Don’t spend hundreds of pounds repairing that engine, throw it away and put in a diesel engine from an old van.'

Read our special feature on knitting nostalgia and how the craft is enjoying a strong resurgence in the August issue of Scottish Memories, available from our website.
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