There once was a loving mother who wanted to knit her darling daughter a beautiful cardigan. She found a pretty pattern and sourced the perfect yarn: a hand-dyed local cashmere/merino/alpaca/wool blend in a colour that would look stunning against her daughter’s eyes. She went to a local craft fair to find the cutest buttons to go with the cardigan. For hours she adapted the pattern to her daughter’s measurements and set out the work to craft the garment (blogged here). Et voila’
The girl refuses to wear it. Apparently the cashmere blend is not soft enough but scratches her sensitive arms.
With this experience all too vivid in my mind I couldn’t help laughing when the Papa brought home his recent book find: Lotta Leaves Home by Astrid Lindgren (1962).
The book is about Lotta, a five-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two older siblings. One morning she wakes up in a foul mood, having dreamed that her older brother and sister were mean to her special soft toy Bamsie. Not receiving the sympathy she firmly believes she deserves her sadness and disappointment turn to furious anger. She refuses to wear the knitted jumper her mother puts out for her but instead takes her scissors and cuts large ugly holes in it.
Her grief and regret is disguised in anger of her family and Lotta decides to move away from home. Luckily her next-door neighbour, Mrs Berg, has a spare attic in her garden shed which is just the perfect househole for a five-year-old with its tiny bed, little table and chair and little chest-of-drawers. Lotta loves it! But as evening comes the corners grows darker, and the thought of home is so much more appealing…
Lotta leaves home is a wonderfully charming story that perfectly discusses the subject of tantrums and the stubborn mind. Doing so from a child’s perspective it is a kind reminder to parents that, in the moment, the strong emotions are real, but they can pass just as quickly.
As a knitter, of course, my heart was bleeding when Lotta took the scissors to her jumper. The symbolism of toddler rebellion being all too clear. My mother-in-law, also a knitter, has since the Toddler was a baby reminded me of the fact that was I to knit for my daughter, I better speed up because before I know it, she will refuse to wear what I knit for her. I could never imagine this would happen so soon!
As the Toddler grew out of the baby stage I moaned about the shortage of patterns available for toddlers and small children relative to the abundance of baby patterns. Having discussed this with my knitwear designer friends they have argued that designing patterns for toddlers and older children isn’t quite worth their while as they don’t sell as well as baby patterns. Now, this may be because parenting a toddler is more laborious than mothering a baby (with having returned to work, negotiating every aspect of life from the getting dressed to the eating of the soup) and there’s simply not as much time and/or energy left for knitting our little darlings wonderful garments. Alternatively parents have experienced their labour of love being left unwanted on the floor or (the horror!) shredded in the bin and simply resorted to focusing their efforts elsewhere. I have not yet given up my quest of knitting my little one a cardy which she happily will wear with love. Not yet.
Lotta Leaves Home. Astrid Lindgren (1962/1969) Magnet, London Illustrations by Ilon Wikland
Please note: no actual knitted garments were damaged or destroyed in the writing of this blog post