When I was a nipper, Mama and Papa (Mum’s parents) lived nearby in a stone-clad end of terrace house with high ceilings and an unusual, wrap-around layout. My little sister and I spent lots of time there. Mama and Papa patiently entertained us with family games such as marbles, “Ey up, milady!” and “Kings”; tended and groomed us to keep us presentable; fed us with pies and other homely dishes; and gave us small treats or chastisements as our conduct decreed.

Mama liked patterns. She knitted. She had patterned wallpaper, but then everyone did – it was well before the days when minimalist, Scandinavian style would throw a magnolia coloured spanner in the works of a thriving wallpaper industry by making neutrality the only safe way to go. Her kitchen paper fascinated me. Strangely shaped teapots, household items, fruit and motifs placed at jaunty angles hung down in trails. I liked to trace out the patterns, lingering over them, looking for repeats, enjoying the familiarity of this or that small detail.

The wallpaper is long gone, but some of the patterns Mama loved are still treasured in the family. Her crocheted throws (kings) are still known by the name of the old dressing-up game they inspired. This is the one she made for me.

Traditional crocheted throw with meerkat


After years of heavy use the throws have been put away for now to stop them wearing out, though I’m sure mine will be quickly pulled out in a crisis!

And yes, the floral jug at the top was picked out by her. I love the way the dotted pattern forms a subtle counterpoint to the bright flowers and foliage. These days the crackle of age adds a lovely deeper layer. My pictures don’t do it justice – one of these days I’ll borrow it and fill it with a tumble of summer flowers.

Inspired by yesterday’s prompt: Pattern

If you enjoy Pinterest, you may like to take a look at my floral patterns board, which is a mix of retro and contemporary style:

28 Replies to “Pattern”

  1. I enjoyed reading this sweet story; “Englanders” have a long history creating beautiful colorful patterns in their artworks; plus several artistic painters from England are some of my favorites. I love the vase with the flowers

  2. That jug is lovely, and I am envious of that beautiful crocheted throw. I remember when they were “all the thing” and everyone I knew (well it seemed like everyone) had one. My mother didn’t crochet and thought it was a waste of time to learn in order to make a throw. But she was into patterned wallpaper — my poor father. He was our chief paper-hanger.

    1. Mama liked paper hanging – fortunately! I’ve never been much of a knitter, though Mama tried to teach me. I had a habit of making up stitches (rather than dropping them), so everything got wider. You’ve reminded me that I did succeed at what she called ‘fool’s knitting’. That’s just one long, woven string. As with so many of the old terms, I can’t find any reference to it online.

      1. Your knitting sounds like mine 🙂 I kind of miss the paper-hanging days of my childhood. My mum would decide a room needed redecorating and start ripping off the old paper. When my brothers and I got home from school we’d help and by the time Dad arrived from work, the room would be chaos. Then he’d re-wallpaper it. I used to love helping — especially spreading the paste on the paper and folding it the right way to hang.
        I’ve never heard of fool’s knitting. Is it like French knitting?

        1. I used to be a good paster but never progressed to hanging it. It’s even simpler than French knitting – just making the simplest of loops with your fingers.

  3. I, too, have throws made by my grandmothers many years ago. How I love them! Pretty, pretty patterns that your grandmother chose, now passed down to you to get cherished memories alive.

      1. As soon as I can get to my clothesline, I’ll be washing and hanging out my beauties. I’ll be sure to include a photo on my blog. For me, the washing and hanging out is a rite of spring.

  4. That should have been “keep” cherished memories alive. The brain thinks one thing. The fingers type something else 😉

  5. What a lovely post! I am very envious of that joyful jug, and your throw brought back a memory for me. My grandmother in Newfoundland taught me to crochet when I was about 10 years old. She showed me how to make these aptly named ‘granny squares’, and I was addicted! It takes quite a few squares to fashion a throw. Have not had the urge to crochet in decades… but this might just motivate me to see if I can still do it. Thank you!

    1. I’m always amazed how many different colours of odds and ends of wool Mama had. She did so much knitting and crocheting at the time that she told me one night, she woke to find Papa sitting upright, sleep-knitting in bed. When she tried to get him to lie down, he said ‘Just wait till I finish this row’.

  6. Thank you for “kings” and “nippers” — both new to me! Does “king” refer to any kind of throw, or just this type, made of squares? In my small world, there is nothing like the memory of Grandma’s House, and I totally understand why you might have to pull out that lovely cover in an emergency. I look forward to seeing the flowers in the jug.

    1. I was expecting questions about ‘Ey up, milady!’ which was the kind of game you really shouldn’t admit to playing (it was very low tech). Kings was simply us slinging our throws around our shoulders and parading around, imagining we were kings. It was just these specific throws – they seemed very regal at the time. I don’t think the ‘king’ was required to do anything except show off his (actually her) finery and look impressive.

      1. So “king” was your family’s name for the throw. Family history! I would love also to know about ‘Ey up, milady, which I forgot to ask about because I hadn’t had enough coffee. Anything low-tech is grand to me.

        1. ‘Ey up!’ is a multi-purpose northern greeting or alert (as in this case). ‘Milady’ means my lady, so the name translates to ‘watch out, my lady!’. Papa had a long, very thin and flexible metal ruler that coiled into a case with a winder to reel it back in. We used to sit on the floor and tease out the ruler, balancing it upwards until gravity intervened and it fell over. Your score was how far you’d got it out before it fell. It’s a tribute to those high ceilings – and a marvel Mama’s ornaments survived.

          It strikes me we were extremely easy to entertain!

          1. I don’t know: that doesn’t sound so easy to me. Some strategy, some estimating, a certain suspense…not to mention an engagement with real people in real time and real space. Beats an iphone any day, if you ask this old lady! Thanks for the explanation!

  7. Oh I love the granny squares throw. I have a crochet throw from my grandma as well and am now keen to learn myself! I love these old traditions now being passed down – only wish I had learned from my gran while she was still alive, she would have loved to teach me herself. Beautiful jug as well – grandma things are so precious!

    1. It’s funny – there must be lots of people out there who know how to crochet and would love to have someone to teach. We need to set up some kind of introduction agency!

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