Friday, 28 June 2013

A Grip like Iron

A Grip like Iron

I don't know how mother came to have such a strong grip, (she could actual crack a walnut in her hand)  if she caught a hold of you for some reason, there was no hope of getting away, perhaps it was the hand milking in her younger days that gave her that grip, I remember some old cows were very hard to milk, it seems to have been bred out of them nowadays along with the bad feet and curled up toes and pendulous udders.


Mother had a Grip like Iron

When mother was young she had help, around the family farm,
Milking cows by hand them days, strengthened sinews in her arms,
Her hand were still ladies hands, no bulky muscle show,
Belied the strength built into them, beyond you'd ever know,

Mother had a grip like iron, nothing failed her grip,
Screw lids on jars and bottles, give it me she'd quip,
The grip she had to skin a rabbit, or ring an old hen's neck,
Crush a grape; she'd crush a walnut, power she'd got by heck.

Round by the coal ruck was her hammer, there to break the coal,
Coal it came in big lumps, some from steam loco it was bowled,
For coal alone the big lump hammer, it was there reduce.
Best steam coal was hard and bright, cracked it down for use,

When we were young she'd lace our boots, bow she'd pull real tight,
They never came undone all day, right into the night,
Sewing did with button thread, no tear came open again,
And buttons only came off once, thread she used times ten.

With age her hands were not so nimble, feel it gradually went,
Knitting that she'd done all her life, on wool she no more spent,
Her skin and nails were without blemish, soft and pink they were,
But on grip she never lost her strength; she was the best mum ever.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

When she sat down in the evening, mother would pick up her knitting, she could knit without looking and when we had our first television she could watch and knit at the same time. Jumpers hats gloves scarves socks( with socks she knit button thread along side the wool while knitting round the heels) she always had a good stock of wool. There seemed to be two stock colours, grey and fawn, other colours were bought for a specific jumper or sweater. When the need arose she would be darning socks, nowadays they get thrown and a new pair bought.
She liked to experiment with new patterns which she gleaned from her magazine, but mostly she only did the patterns up the front where it would be seen, then she could "bomb" on with the back and would produce a jumper in a week.


Mothers Weekly Magazine

Mother had weekly magazine, knitting patterns every week,
These she used to knit up the fronts, of our jumpers so to speak,
Some were cable some were ribbed, some were chequered squares,
Some were bobbles in a lump, couldn't buy anything that compares.

The wool she bought was in skeins, a dozen at a time,
This she got us to hold while she wound into balls like twine,
We held our hands out at full stretch, while she wound full tilt,
Arms would ache on the second one, then our arms would wilt.

Brother next in line was asked, turns we had to take,
Wool was grey, or fawn, or blue, for what she'd got to make,
Socks she knit one every night, jumpers took over a week,
Stitch the front and back together, sleeves to the arm holes tweak.

Started with the welt, the grippe bit round the waist,
Tested it on the one who it's for, half way round our hips she placed,
On up to the armpits, try it for length again,
Then the neck onto the shoulder, it was a blooming pain.

Next the socks they're mostly grey, started top welt round,
These were pulled up to our knee, and turned the top bit down,
Knit on down to the heel, measured it on our legs,
Three needles used on this job, pulled them on like stuck out pegs.

Heels we always wore out first, so in with the wool she knit,
Strong button thread along side the wool, in pattern this wasn't writ,
So when they did get bare and thin, she darned them time agen,
Then they were called our working socks, for us working men.

Sometimes when jumpers, got wore out up the front,
She would unpick the seams, and rewind a whole segment,
Then would knit again, into little gloves or woolly hat,
In winter balaclava, or scarves on many things she'd tat.

When we were young she'd knit and knit, no woollies bought at all,
As we left home she knit again, next generation when they were small,
Knit up to her seventies, when finger would not flex no more,
Big blow it was, she knit by feel, for old age yet, there is no cure.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Don't rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.Andy Rooney (1919 --)