Lane’s post about her daughter’s fashion manifesto plucked a random memory from deep within my brain cells.
I learned to knit at about seven, taught by my great-grandma. At nine I knitted my very first jumper. I remember it was bright orange and I was so proud of it. By the age of 16 I’d progressed to elaborate fair-isle and complicated cabling. With nowhere else to go to find new and interesting knitting challenges I decided to design my own!
A new restaurant ‘The Mandarin’ had opened in town. Kettering’s very first, ever, Chinese restaurant. As I passed by a couple of days after it had opened, there, in front of my eyes, was a brilliant idea for my next knitting project.
I could just picture it – my very own unique fashion statement, complete with state of the art Chinese writing encircling my boobs.
The next day I went back and carefully copied some Chinese writing I’d seen on a colourful poster of a Chinese lady serving food in the window. Later, at home, I designed my jumper on graph paper, colouring in the little squares that represented the Chinese writing. I was really chuffed and couldn’t wait to get started. I bought the wool the next day.
Two weeks later I wore my latest creation to college, where I was a full-time student taking my O levels. A lad I didn’t know offered to buy it off me for a fiver! Everyone loved it and wanted one too. My teachers oooed and ahhhed – especially my Art teacher. How clever I was to actually design it myself! My head (and ego) expanded.
A couple of weeks later, in the corridor at college, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around. It was a Chinese lad.
‘Excuse me’, he said, ‘why have you got Chicken Chop Suey and Fried Rice on your jumper?’
For a split second I thought I’d spilled something down my front. Then it dawned on me.
My inflated ego shrivelled like a popped balloon. I never wore the jumper again.
(By the way, I still love knitting – nearly as much as writing)