I guess it was around the time I started knitting again after The Long Hiatus that my mum gave me these mittens, which had been knitted for me decades ago by her mum:
Nana died when I was three, which makes me the youngest of the grandchildren she met in her lifetime. One of my cousins, on learning that I have these mitts, was really excited to see them because she remembers Nana very well. I myself only have one memory of her. She had given me a new book and we were sitting on the sofa together as she read it to me, and because the book was given away when I got too old for it - my mum must have forgotten where it came from - these mittens are pretty important to me.
Having said that...
Okay, I don't use these as mittens obviously, but they are regularly employed for presenting little notes or gifts, so I do look at them, and this week I looked at them closely.
See that funny bump running down from the thumb? Come to that - see the funny base of the thumb?
I thought it was a design feature on the slightly awkward thumb setup until I looked closer and yes, it's true: Nana ran in the tail on the outside of the mitten. And that explains the funny loose bit midway down the side of the other mitt: she did the same with the tie off at the top of the fingers.
My mum tells me Nana took up knitting late in life, and that it was Nana Keenan who was the really skilled knitter (in the early 1950s, she knit herself a two-piece dress in dove grey yarn). Am I the only one to find this extra charming? That it probably gave her a lot of trouble to do it, but Nana knit mitts for me?
There's one other thing I notice about these mittens: they're worked to a pretty tight gauge, and when I look at the stitches all hugged up against each other... well, I just feel like I can see the love. Thank you, Nana.