Chilly in these parts

My electricity provider has helpfully supplied me with an Age Concern Cold Alert thermometer. It is a piece of double-layered card with a temperature-sensitive strip displayed in a window next to a colour-coded guide relating to the safety of the ambient temperature. A very similar device was supplied by various purveyors of baby-products for monitoring the “nursery”.


Luckily none of us is either very old or very young since, as you might be able to see, it’s quite cold around here at the moment. I think it’s more a result of the wind getting through the late Victorian cracks than the actual outside temperature.

Last night, as I alternated between chill-induced headache and sub-duvet suffocation, I remembered of the delights of that comforting garment, the nightcap (my childhood held its fair share of frugal heaters), and thanks to the stitches of the interknit have already found free pattern. Although I’m not wild about the idea of knitting 1ply wool even if I could find some. It shall have to be adapted for something slightly bulkier.

Actually, there was a period in my life when I wore a knitted hat all day and all night, winter and summer. It was made for me by my mother from this pattern (which I obviously still have).


She only knitted me three things (excluding the possibility of baby clothes which I don’t remember). That hat was the second. First was… this.

sheer hell

In baby pink. Baby. Pink. Made for me when I was thirteen years old. Anyone who has ever met me, even for a millisecond, will know just how diametrically anti-me such a garment would be, at any age. Even in black. But in baby pink? And apart from the colour the most obvious thing about it, to a girl not yet bought a bra and provided with extremely sensible knickers, it’s full of fucking holes. Let us leave aside the obvious fact that it’s hideous. I was used to being forced to wear hideous.

Poor woman. She tried so hard to have a daughter who was some person other than me. It is entirely possible that, in the titanic struggle of identity between us, the hat – navy blue and very plain – became a symbol of something we actually agreed upon. Something given, something taken. Which may explain why I chose to wear it all the time until, as I recall, it pretty much disintegrated, and she elected not to stop me.

Perhaps instead of using some other nightcap pattern I should ritually recreate that blue hat in a symbolic assuaging of ghosts.

5 Replies to “Chilly in these parts”

  1. Oh my. Rachel, I am *so* glad you became the person you are rather than the person your mother wanted you to be.

  2. Some of the biggest fights I had with my mom were all to do with clothes. She really did want me to wear clothes that I thought didn’t fit with my personality. (My personality demanded frayed jeans and black t shirts). My mother loved seeing me in anything remotely traditional.. or colourful. To this day – I promptly remove anything that my mother perceives as “nice”. She caught on later though – when I wore something I liked – she’d tell me it was hideous.

    So in essence – I take off anything that my mother likes or doesn’t like.

  3. I think there are normally annoying and insensitive mothers, like Neha’s, who want to impose their own taste. And deeply disfunctional mothers like mine and rr’s who have a subconscious need to for their daughters to look awful.

    Probably better for your dreams if you start anew with a completely different kind of nightcap, I feel. But look, it’s March – not too many more cold nights, hopefully.

  4. Neha… I’m drawing what might be the obvious but rather disturbing conclusion that when you’re in the presence of your mother you are entirely without clothing. Butt naked. I hope she doesn’t visit London in the winter 🙂

    Jean, I’ve actually been struck with a brilliant plan with regard to the nocturnal headgear. I’m going to use a skein of wool given to me by a friend and make the Karma Hat, as modified by the genius of Jared. Thus many, er, strands are, er, knitted together – a great hat, a great name, some seriously divine wool and the gift of a friend.

    Only problem is it’ll probably need ribbons to tie under the chin to keep it on while I’m asleep. Still, nobody will see me wearing it so it won’t matter 🙂

  5. that has brought back a memory out of the blue…well pink. My mum wanted to buy me a pink raincoat…PINK…How we fought…in the sixties, when I was yearning for flowing hippy clothes. My revenge was to wear old evening dresses from jumble sales in purple crepe and black with sequins and feathers and furs. She was, of course horrified, as were the neighbours…

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