Knitting, kneeling and killing
KnittingWinters were cold in South Australia and knitted woollen jumpers were well valued. I learnt to knit with scraps of wool and probably first knitted squares or a scarf. I also knitted small vests for dolls. Mum’s motto that idle hands make for the devil’s work, meant that it was always wise to have something on the go. New wool was expensive to purchase so I do remember much unravelling of previously knitted garments to be rolled into tight balls before the wool was reused for a new jumper.
New wool came in skeins rather than balls, so several hours involving two people would be spent rolling the skeins into balls. Many women took their knitting everywhere they went. In the waiting rooms for doctors and dentists, it was not uncommon to see all the women knitting. I appreciated having learnt how to knit especially once I was at boarding school. Knitting filled in many long hours chatting with friends.
It is interesting to look back at knitting patterns through the Internet Archive.
KneelingEvery night after the dishes had been washed, dried and put away we knelt as a family to pray the rosary. The Catholic rosary is a sequence of prayers repeated five times. The belief that the family that prays together stays together was always highly valued. This did not stop us as youngsters getting the giggles or poking fun or nudging at a nearby sibling. At the end of a long day, one person might fall asleep, a quick tap would suffice to bring them back into the fold.
Mum trimmed the flaps and neck chops ready for stews. All the scraps that could be salvaged from any cut off remnants were then minced. The mincer was screwed on to the end of a table or the kitchen bench. Perched on a chair I took my turn pushing down on that meat to feed it through the mincer while turning that stubborn handle. Other joints were sawn into chops. Meat processing took several hours before it was all packed away into meal sized portions.
Hens that no longer laid eggs were killed for consumption. If one could get the fowl to lay still, neck stretched across the chopping block, a quick strike of the axe did the job. The smell of wet feathers after the bird was plunged in boiling water remains with me. We plucked the feathers before “dressing the fowl,” cleaning out the innards and saving the giblets for soup. Old hens, the boilers, made great stock for chicken soup and provided cold meat for hot weather and sandwiches. Younger birds were stuffed and roasted, one to serve many.