DROPPING LOOPS, MAKING HOLES AND STUFFING THINGS

A feature on yet another revival of homely hand knitting reminded me……. At primary school, the girls’ craft classes were the bain of my life. Could I knit as a six year old? Much as I tried, sitting at an old wooden desk, with oversized knitting needles and a well re-used ball of wool, made the whole experience a clumsy affair with little to show for it. There were some loops on the needle and maybe I managed to put some wool through a loop or two, I don’t really remember.

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I do know, that there were some stitches on the needle that did not seem to be very productive.  I was glad when the tortuous efforts came to an end and another lesson began.

Then there was the class where the better little hand-stitchers made bunnies with lovely fluffy cloth already cut to shape, probably by the teacher, a grandmother figure, who taught that girls’ class. Once stitched to the required point, busy little hands had lots of fun stuffing the bodies, arms, legs, hands and ears of their creations, (through a small opening left in the seam) with what I believe was Kapok. Polyester fibres were not in use all those years ago to stuff things. The opening was then closed up by each young  ‘creator’ with even and neat little running stitches.

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We, the ones relegated to the ‘untalented’ corner, (the majority of the class) had a bit of rag each plus a needle and thread to practice with. I cannot say what others may have thought, but it seemed to me, the three or four bunny-makers looked more than a teensy bit smug.  Just a bit of me would have liked to have been with them bathed in their success.

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A couple of years later, I discovered the Grandmother figure really was granny to two of the girls in her ‘better’ group.  Also, another teacher in the school, who was French, was her daughter-in-law.  By then, I was old enough to understand that a big war ended not so many years before, so, it was likely that the girls had no dad.  Mum and granny were supporting each other and the two girls on prescribed lower women’s salaries, much lower than their working male teaching counterparts.

From the amount of time we spent in church and on religious education, I wonder if there wasn’t some hope of recruiting future nuns and priests.

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This primary school was certainly schooling the girls, for at best, domesticity, sweat shops, or, subservient jobs, and the boys, likewise, to be unskilled. We weren’t seen as having much potential.

Poppy Memorial Scott Monument

Scott Monument Princes St Edinburgh+ Poppy Memorial

When we all divided up to move on to our next secondary stage school experience, it was really surprising how many children started to thrive in a different educational environment, even though the development of domestic/service/cooking skills, was still a theme for girls.  Many of us as schoolchildren, were undervalued. Notwithstanding, many of my school friends, both genders, broke the expected mould.

YaY !!

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Making It With Bread.

Six years ago I excitedly purchased an inexpensive bread maker. I was tempted to do so by the wonderful breads a friend was churning out of her machine (a different brand to mine) and the fact that she gave me one of her loaves as a birthday present.

Today, my first machine has reappeared from storage. It was relegated following a couple of years of hit and miss loaves sticking in the pan, and paddles disappearing into the bread, leaving gaping holes behind when they were hiked out of their hiding place. The machine and its programmes was made for the mainland European market that has different flour types to ours, which was why home bread production got a bit fraught.

My replacement was a Breadman Pro. I decided on it having tested out several well known makes and finding amongst them that, one did not do what its makers said it did and others took up to six hours to produce anything useful. Some were so high that it was impossible to see the window, if there was one, and the controls were out of sight. The Breadman had most of the features I wanted, though it made tall loaves not retangular ones. Rarely did a recipe fail and I was confidently adventurous with my loaf making.

On Sunday, after a year of not using the machine, (there were a whole host of domestic reasons that had nothing to do with the bread maker) I decided to make a Rye loaf. The machine didn’t work, it had suffered a logic failure. :-/ The only programme doing anything relevant was one to cook bagel dough. The machine has been returned standard parcel post, to its maker. 😦

As I blog, my ‘spare’ machine is paddling its way through rye bread dough. I have no idea how it will turn out, indeed, if it will even turn out from the baking tin, hole and fissure free. But irrespective of what the finished product looks like, I am looking forward to the aroma of baking bread emanating from my kitchen.