Oh, wow, Gesine. Cool topic.
I'm really surprised in a way that people don't knit in the UK. They certainly used to. When I was in college back in the 60s and 70s, I made a point to investigate what they had in the UK and Canada, as I assumed it was much better than what we had here in the US, and in some ways it was. My grandmother, who grew up in the UK, knitted, as did my husband's mother, who recently died at age 87. When I visited the UK during library school in 1978, I bought two whole fleeces, which I washed and dried all summer so I could get them back in the country to spin.
I started knitting as a child. My grandmother taught me, although my mother knew how and helped too. This was in the 50s. At age 10, when my half-sister was born, I knitted her a sweater.
My grandmother also taught me how to crochet and do embroidery. When needlepoint became a big thing around 1970, I took that up too and learned to spin around 1976 or so by taking a class at a shop in Pasadena.
I remember sitting in my college classes and crocheting a very fine shawl and bedspread--lace, with thread of size 30. The hook was so sharp I'd stick myself from time to time, and there were tiny bits of blood on the thread. I still have both and recently deconstructed the shawl so I could make one for my stepdaughter, 20, who lives in the UK.
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