Mum and I had morning tea with her Uncle Jack and Auntie Roma today.
After a cup of tea and piece of fruit cake, and while we chatted over this and that, I took out my knitting. Roma asked if I knitted constantly like my mother used to and told me how Mum and her sister never sat with idle hands. Then, between them, Jack and Roma and Mum told me the story of Jack's cardigan.
Jack met and fell in love with Roma at an early age. Roma was beautiful and kind. To my mother she was a glamourous older sister. Jack and Roma became engaged just before Jack was posted overseas with the Army. During his time away, Roma knitted him a cardigan.
It was a Fair Isle cardigan with eight different colours of beiges, greens, browns and tans. Mum, Roma and Jack all described the pattern and the colours in detail. It was Fair Isle all over, not just the yoke, Roma and Mum took pains to tell me.
Roma knitted Jack's cardigan at night at the kitchen table. She couldn't sit in the living room to knit it because she needed the family's tea cups and a flat surface. Each ball of wool was placed in a different tea cup to keep the colours separated. It was lucky there were only eight colours because that was all the tea cups they had. When someone in the family wanted a cuppa, knitting ceased until the tea had been made and drunk and the cup washed, dried and returned to Roma at the kitchen table.
When Jack returned home from his posting a year later, he and Roma were married. Jack swears the cardigan was his favourite and he wore it all the time. Mum, who was 7 when they married, confirms that he did as she vividly remembers the cardigan.
Jack's eyes glistened this morning when he told me how upset he was when Roma discarded the carigan when they moved into their retirement unit earlier this year. He smiled and held her hand when she told me that although she'd always hand washed the cardigan and looked after it properly, it had shrunk a little and was becoming quite worn.
Jack and Roma married in 1949.
Uncle Jack selling hub caps at the Jamison Trash and Treasure Markets, 5 September 1985.
Image courtesy of the absolutely essential ACT Heritage Library, Canberra Times Collection.