My mother, bless her, was very protective of her two chicks. Indeed, one might almost say that she was over-protective in many ways. Granted, if there were any germs or viruses about you could pretty much guarantee that one of us would catch whatever it was - and pass it on to the other! Mum took to heart the old maxim, ne'er cast a clout till may be out. But even when the hawthorn was in bloom, the likelihood was that my brother and I would still be wearing hand-knitted pullovers - as well as vests under our shirts and jackets when we left the house!
The pullovers - some long-sleeved, some sleeveless - were knitted by my mother. She was seldom to be seen sitting down and relaxing without the knitting needles going clickety clack. Jumpers, scarves, wooly hats, cardigans - even swimming costumes were home-made. The clothing produced by Mum's knitting was as good as anything that could be bought in the shops so we were never embarrassed to wear it. Except that I do recall being slightly embarrassed by my knitted swimming costume. It was a costume as well - not just trunks. The body came up over my chest and there were straps across the shoulders. And how heavy it got in the water! As I say, I can remember being just a bit embarrassed on the beach that year.
Mum was a great knitter, a hobby she continued until her sight became too poor, but she was not a seamstress, although I believe that as a teenager (aged about 18 or so) she may well have done some embroidery work. Nor could she do smocking, although this was something she absolutely loved. I'm sure she would have been delighted to have a daughter to dress, but she did her best to make up for the lack. As youngsters, both my brother and I were dressed in blouses rather than shirts, blouses that had started life as plain white garments. But before we were allowed to wear them, they were taken to either Mrs Hutton (our landlady) or a neighbour of hers to be smocked.
I've spoken to my brother since I typed the last paragraph and he confirms it was not Mrs Hutton who did the smocking, nor was it a neighbour of hers. However, we agreed that whoever it was who did it, she lived on the Wigmore road in a bungalow with a wooden veranda - what would be called a porch in the southern states of America - the whole plot being covered in trees which made it seem rather spooky.
Those woollen swimming costumes: