We were chatting last night about the knitters who came before us; our grandmothers and aunts and assorted and various relatives in our collective past, those who knitted with us, and for us.
We reminisced about the knitting we had received as gifts, before we ourselves were knitters.
You know the sort of thing I'm talking about... in the words of Dylan Thomas, from A Child's Christmas in Wales, "from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all".
Those knitted gifts we didn't appreciate.
Sometimes we didn't appreciate them because they were ill-fitting (C's too-tight armholes) a bad choice of yarn (rasping wool, or sweaty 1970s acrylic), because they were a style not to our taste (K.'s black and teal shoulder-padded mohair number), or sometimes, simply, because we didn't understand the work that went into them.
In my case, my grannie Hilda had taste that matched well with mine, and we wore to death the things she made for us. We loved them, but we still really didn't appreciate them.
But whether we liked the items or not, whether they fitted or looked good or were nice to wear, whether they were worn to death or stuffed in the back of your closet, it's probably safe to say that we didn't appreciate the work that went into them.
I know I had no idea how long it took to make that perfect red and black mohair turtleneck pullover I convinced Mum to knit for me when I was a teenager.
K. told us the story of the black and teal shoulder-padded mohair number last night. K's a sharp dresser, and isn't afraid of wearing something distinctive and interesting - but teal mohair just wouldn't have suited her. She confessed that she didn't like the sweater, discarded it without a second look, and was relieved when it was accidentally thrown in the washing machine and felted.
Only when she started knitting did she realize the effort that had gone into the sweater, so she did the right thing: 30 years later, she picked up the phone and called her aunt to say thank you.
I believe a few tears were shed.
No matter how long ago the gift was knitted, no matter how many years have passed since it was given, it's never too late to say thank you to a knitter in your life for all that effort and love.
Grannie: Thank you. Not just for the all the knitting, but the inspiration. I love you.