Every year when winter arrives, almost all of us remember the sweaters that our lovely mothers knitted by hand, bringing to us the feeling of warmth and being hugged again and again. To me, every sweater tells a story but like Anastasia Hollings wrote in Beautiful World: "Every picture tells a story, but sometimes it's hard to know what story is actually being told."
In my case, my mother had started knitting the first sweater for me when I was in the womb. She had bought red wool for it. Before I was born in the chill of Dehradun, the lovely piece of motherly care was ready. I still preserve this sweater as a token of her love and my fascination for red continues even now.
That year on, a new sweater used to be ready for me before the onset of winter. At times, my mother would also knit woollen socks and scarves. It is a great feeling when holding half-knit sweater; mother takes the measurement of the neck, arms, and the other body parts.
I remember I would stand before the mirror wearing the new sweater. When the women in the neighbourhood admired the new pattern and designs, I used to feel proud.
When I started going to school, my maternal grandmother, who visited us from Shimla, knitted a "monkey cap" (ski mask) to protect me from the cold weather, much to the amusement of my school friends. I felt nice when I wore that balaclava and even today have to search for words to explain that special ecstasy.
For some time, the art of knitting became dormant with the technology providing us with an easy and quick alternative. The sale of patterns and yarns slumped, as the craft was seen increasingly as old-fashioned and rarely were children taught to knit. The availability and low cost of machine-knitted items meant that consumers could have a sweater for the cost of the wool and the pattern, or for far less often.
The good news is that the 21st century has brought about a resurgence of knitting, which is related part to the growth of the internet and web-based technologies, and part to the general handmade revolution. A sign of the new popularity of knitting is the bourgeoning international online community on social-networking website Revelry. A free portal for knitters and crocheters, Revelry connects the enthusiasts of this art around the world and by now has nearly 40 lakh registered users.
The warmth and closeness are back again in the form of hand-knit sweaters, reinforcing the feeling that if winter has arrived, can mother's love be far behind.