Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mothering Sunday Knits, and a little history too

It's nearly that time again - just a few short weeks to go. Have you started your Mother's Day knitting yet?

Hang on, say our overseas readers... Mother's Day isn't til the 8th May! Well, in Britain, Mothering Sunday (Mother's Day) is always the fourth Sunday of lent, as it began as a Christian religious holiday, and it falls this year on 3rd April. Whether religious or not, most British families celebrate Mothering Sunday with a gift, a card and the general spoiling of their Mums and Nans.
Image copyright Ingrid Murnane

Mothering Sunday has also been known in the past as Refreshment Sunday or Pudding Pie Sunday and was a day in lent when the fasting rules were relaxed for a day to remember the feeding of the five thousand (one of the miracles told in the Gospels). Obviously this was cause for cake-making and general celebration.

Those in service in Britain (working as maids and footmen etc, rather than in the forces) were allowed one day to visite their family each year. This was generally on Mothering Sunday and it was traditional to take with them a Simnel cake, which is a delicious marzipanny concoction (although as an almond fiend I could be biased here). Do try the recipe if you haven't made one before.

Simnel Cake by Oimon. Used under Creative Commons
I’ll to thee a Simnell bring
‘Gainst thou go’st a mothering,
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou’lt give to me
Robert Herrick 1648

So as well as baking your Mum a simnel cake, what are you going to knit her? There are three weeks to go, so it is reasonable that you could whip up some accessories or even a small garment.

Here are a few suggestions:

Image copyright Arbour House Publishing
It's still chilly enough in most of Britain to warrant a pair of Elegant Coat Gloves. This pattern is written by Susan Crawford from Vintage Gifts to Knit  and uses small amounts of different colour yarns to make a longer pair of coat gloves.You can learn or practice your Fair Isle technique with these.

Image copyright Arbour House Publishing  
The Town and City Tufted Cape from Vintage Gifts to Knit is a lovely little cover-up which would work brilliantly for spring. It is knitted with a clever 'tuft' stitch and a lady at Unravel told us that she knitted one up in just three days, giving you lots of time to get one knitted before Mothering Sunday. The pattern is adjustable to fit many sizes and different lengths so easy to adapt for your own Mum or Nan.

Of course, rather than knitting something to wear, you could always knit something fun to keep. I always think that it is much nicer to recieve something that has been made by someone's hands rather than bought in a shop, so instead of one of those 'forever friends' type of bears, why not try knitting one yourself? Oscar (on the left) is one of the lovely traditional teddy bears from Sandra Polley's book Knitted Toys. He stands at about 45cm or 18" tall and has a charming waistcoat to wear too. Sandra's book is a good one to dip into for lots of other projects that take just an oddment or two of yarn as well, so a good one if you have just one skein of something.

Happy planning!
Ingrid x


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