ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Knitting Nancy

Knitted Scottish underpants with hand stitched diamond crotch!

My lovely cousin who is battling with cancer is about to start a course of radiotherapy which, as we all know, is not lying on the sofa listening to the Archers.
In order to take her mind of the impending horrors and inevitable loss of body hair, albeit only in her nether regions, which although it sounds like it has got nothing to do with Holland or Dykes, has taken up knitting with an unwanted ‘Teach Yourself to Knit’ kit she’d given to her granddaughter for Christmas and subsequently found hidden in the airing cupboard. The way she described herself in her email was sitting in the garden with a straw hat plonked on her head, wielding very fat needles, knitting a very fat scarf and a matching very fat hat. She sounded ‘very’ angry to me, as opposed to fat – and justifiably so, considering what she has already been through and has yet to go through and I could just picture the scene with her clacking madly away to ease her trepidation, disturbing the birds and the wildlife.

Women throughout the centuries have taken to knitting for various reasons, although as a general rule, at least as far as grannies and expectant mothers are concerned, anger or violence isn’t usually a part of it. Aside from during the French Revolution of course, where women became identified with extreme violence and were actively encouraged to sit and knit during the trials and executions, counting the severed heads as they rolled around them. There was the odious Madame Defarge for example, who sounds more like a Mancunian drag artist, clinking her sinister knitting needles in Charles Dickens, ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ and in the Mel Brooks film ‘History of the World,’ there she was at it again, but by this time she had become so poor that she’d run out of wool, so had to sit there simply rubbing her knitting needles together in a threatening manner. I’d better advise my cousin to make sure she gets stocked up with a good supply of yarn and maybe even a spinning wheel or an alpaca, otherwise she might end up with no balls like that drag artist and female impersonator Madame Defarge. But then again, my cousin is one step ahead of the game as she resides in Wales and although there are no executions as such, one thing they are not short of is sheep, so no danger of running out of wool there, or lamb chops for that matter.

You may be contemplating taking up knitting yourself, although knitting yourself would be a bit ambitious I feel unless you are an experienced knitter, so a doll or a teddy might be easier to start off with. If you are the none violent type however and feel that the long pointed needles are a tad dangerous, you could either choose big fat James as in blunt ones, like my cousin, or alternatively try a Knitting Nancy, which for the uninformed is a type of anorexic wooden doll with four nails knocked around the hole at the top of her head, through which the crocheted wool (I initially wrote crotch there by accident, which may or may not have been a Freudian slip) coils through her like my cousin’s about to be hairless nether regions, like woolly entrails, after which you can wind the knitted coil round and round in circles to make handy coasters, woolly frisbies or jolly tea cosies, which can also be used as hats in an emergency. Rather than rolling your own fags, which although cheaper is extremely bad for your health, you could try your hand at rolling your own knickers instead and whilst on the subject of healthy pursuits, if you really fancy a challenge, a dunlopillo styled bathing suit. But I have to warn you that this highly absorbent garment would be of no use whatsoever and would hinder your chances of securing a gold medal if the challenge involves the next Olympics, or swimming the channel.

Knitting Nancy is not to be confused with Knitty Nora however, the school nurse whose job it was to check pupil’s hair, as opposed to pubic hair, for nits, or for that matter the esteemed author Nancy Bush (I will refrain from an obvious joke here about crabs) who has written a riveting book I heartily recommend my dear cousin should rush to Waterstone’s to buy entitled, ‘Knitting Vintage Socks,’ which is described in the review as a fascinating peek into the brain of a master sock designer.
What’s a vintage sock when it’s at home? I’ve heard of bobby socks and knee socks although I would prefer to wear my socks on my feet – but vintage? Unlike wine, socks are hardly things that improve with age are they, even after years of fermentation, although my son’s dirty socks often smell like they are fermenting, especially if they have been encased in his barrel like trainers for any length of time, or trampled like grapes on the threshing pit of his bedroom floor. Besides, the socks in our house haven’t got time to age as they tend to mysteriously disappear to wherever socks mysteriously disappear to. At least one of them does, leaving their abandoned partner suitably bereft, not to mention decidedly odd and condemned to a life of solitude and old age. Perhaps that’s what the master sock designer meant by a vintage sock or maybe she’d been listening to the parody of the Def Leppard album, ‘Socks of Ages,’ which presumably pertains to cotton socks, as in blessed, or holy socks of which there are a whole congregation residing in my drawers. If you delve further into this fascinating peek into a master sock master’s brain, aside from finding out how to knit ‘Evening Socks for a Young Lady’, you will also discover all about baby’s bootikins, which sounds to me more like the sequel to Russell Brand’s confusingly bestselling autobiography, ‘My Booky Wook’.

There appears to be a whole underworld of websites and blogs devoted to knitting where the authors wish to remain anonymous – I wonder why! For example; ‘Knitters Anonymous’, ‘Sock Knitters Anonymous’ and wait for it – ‘Blond Knitters Anonymous.’ There is probably a relevant joke about blondes and knitting, but one doesn’t spring directly to mind. On one of them it says; ‘Bad Day? Just knit a sock.’
Hello – if I’m having a bad day, the last thing I would want to do is make myself feel even more down at heel by knitting a sock, or even thinking about one.
On the ‘Sock Knitters Anonymous’ forum, another knitter writes – ‘A new sock! I’m still working on coupling.’
That sounds more like it.

More facts about the multifarious uses of yarn possibly aimed at younger knitters can be found on the cooler, more update site, ‘The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting’ and if that doesn’t get your needles clacking and you are of a more devout nature, maybe you should try, ‘To Knit is Divine’, random ramblings about knitting. Here you can discover how to knit as the author describes it, the much desired, ‘Diagonal Ripple Dishcloth’. This particular knutter as opposed to knitter actually makes these knitted dishcloths to give as gifts – note to my cousin, I do not want one for Christmas.

In yet another website devoted to knitting and believe me there are thousands, so whoever said life was too short to knit (i.e. me) was wrong, we are informed that the knitting Nancy can also be described as a corker or a knobby. The author of this philosophical site called ‘Yarns and Musings’ was very excited by the fact that she’d found some for sale in her local dollar store and had immediately splashed out and bought two, because as she quite rightly pointed out, you never knew when there was going to be a knobby shortage. Being American, this ardent knobby enthusiast obviously has deeply ingrained cheerleading as well as nancying tendencies, because she informs us that knobbys can also be used for making pom poms. Well, all I can say to that is, you’d need a big knobby for one of those.

If you find like Miss America that you’ve really taken a shine to corkers, knobbys and in particular nancy’s, you can then join ‘The Knitting Nancy Secret Society’, where you can learn how to make a knitted necklace. Who needs diamonds I say or pearls, or should I say purls, when a girl’s best friend is obviously her knitted necklace. Not much of an investment I would have thought and I’m sure Marylin would have agreed with me and Mr Cheap as Chips David Dickinson, so no point in trailing it along to the Antiques Road Show in a few years, or Cash in the Attic.

There must be some weird connection between knitting and life threatening illnesses because when I was first diagnosed, in an attempt to take my mind off the horror of my new found status I also took up knitting. I deliberately chose a complicated pattern although I wasn’t sure at the time if I would live to see the finished garment out. I knitted so furiously trying to get it completed before I popped off, my balls got all tangled up. And talking of balls, in the process of my research I came across a genuine knitting pattern for a ‘Willie Warmer.’ Being devised by a man, size in this case obviously did matter and we are advised that if we didn’t have our partner’s exact measurements, knitting it too big was far better than knitting it too small, but if you must guess, he suggests, make it too big, as your man would then be complimented rather than offended. Mind you, this advice comes from a man who calls his own male member Captain Willie, so say no more. I would suggest that if you really want to pander to your man’s ego, just go out and buy him an oversized Christmas stocking and stuff it full of nuts. Captain Willie sadly declined however to give the answer to the burning question on many a gay man lips, which is – how many balls does it take to make one willie warmer?

The Willie Warmer is great idea for kilt wearers though and is probably where the idea originated. Maybe my cousin should knit herself one of those for after her radio therapy. I met a Scottish man who actually owns a pair of knitted underpants that his mother knitted for him, which he still wears to this day. Maybe it’s time he thought about changing them. Talking of Scottish men’s underpants and willies for that matter, when we drove to Manchester on Wednesday, we got caught up in the motorway traffic caused by the 120,000 Rangers fans travelling down from Scotland to watch the EUFA match against Russia. Subsequently, every hundred yards or so along the hard shoulder there would be a line of men peeing on the grass – some wearing kilts, but to my great disappointment I didn’t see evidence of any willie warmers. Mind you, willie warmers in any shape or form are about to become redundant, so don’t bother to get your needles out, because coming soon, according to a site called ‘mostly harmless creative solutions’, which range from weight loss to mental disorders, is the electrical testicle warmer – just plug it in and warm up. Haven’t these people heard of Global warming and the threat this is posing not only to the planet but to mankind as a whole. Testicles produce sperm when they are one degree cooler than the body, so if all the human testicles were one degree warmer, the human race would die out in one generation. Maybe that’s what mostly harmless creative solutions are secretly plotting to do.

Throughout the course of time there have been many famous Nancy’s – Nancy Reagan and Nancy Sinatra to name but a few – and even more famous Nancy boys such as the adorable Sean from the knicker factory in Coronation street and we mustn’t forget Graham Norton, the biggest Nancy of them all. Then there was Nancy Sykes of course, the wife of the dastardly Bill and now Andrew Lloyd Webber is looking for a brand new Nancy in his programme, ‘I’d Do Anything’ and I think some of those Nancy girls would by the evil looks they give each other when they surround the poor Nancy who has been voted off like a pack of wolves and triumphantly rip her choker off. According to an exclusive backstage interview of the wanabee Nancy’s by the Mirror, when asked if they’d use their female charms to get ahead, one wanabee Nancy said she might take Lord Webber out for a nice meal and even indulge in some mud wrestling, but only with her clothes on, but she didn’t say whether this would be before or after dinner. Desperation and the desire for stardom and success can drive people to extremes and another wanabee Nancy proclaimed she would not be averse to giving Lord Webber the odd wink. Another more extreme wanabee would apparently even go as far as cutting her left foot off and the one from Blackpool said she would go naked if the part called for it, but only with chicken fillets. Did she perchance mean nuggets?

The formula for knitting as taught to me by my mother and her mother before her, is always start with a bit of fourply, then stick it in, wrap it round, pull it through, knock it off, which always sounded a bit rude to me and still does. But knitting can have that effect on a lonely old spinster like me, especially if I’ve been working with too many corkers and knobbys. Alas, no more corkers or knobbys for me it seems, but as this particular positive Nancy wanabee sings – ‘If you don’t mind havin’ to go without it, it’s a fine life.’
Although, if I’d never ‘ad it in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this celibate as opposed to celebratory position now – and my status could have been celebrity rather than positive.

I did come across one really eccentric but lovely knitting site called ‘Soul Mate Dolls’ by Noreen Crone-Findlay, where you can buy a pattern to make a tiny doll called ‘The Angel of Knitting’, which I might have a go at making myself. Maybe we should ask her to come up with an HIV Angel – we could certainly do with one of those.

1 Comment»

  Kay wrote @

Read in the paper yesterday that ‘Stitch’n’Bitch’ clubs are all the rage with celebrity types. Being a remedial knitter myself, I don’t think I’d have the concentration to bitch and knit at the same time.
My daughter’s dad went by the name of Nobby. I’d love to have knocked 4 nails into the top of his head.

Kay x


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