Sharing Stories, Knitting Memories

‘Each stitch is a thought of you dear, woven with loving care’

“The aim of this project is to produce a collaborative and creative piece of work that recaptures the essence of the ‘make do and mend’ ethos. Participants were asked to collect a memory from someone in East Lancashire who was a child during World War Two and then knit a square, choosing colours to represent the memory in a meaningful way.

A framed ‘blanket’ of these knitted squares has been created, with each square visually representing the wartime childhood memory of the individual. This project spans across several generations as the oldest participant to knit a square is in her nineties, whilst the youngest is only eleven years old.”

Karen Coe

We are currently in the process of producing a booklet containing all the knitted squares and memories. In the meantime, please enjoy a snapshot of memories from this project below.

Wartime childhood memory of Gertrude Annie Bailey – written by her daughter Olive Laurie

“My mother was a confectioner who, before her marriage, had specialised in making and decorating cakes for special occasions. During the war, I had very happy memories of watching my mother making and decorating cakes to be sent to troops who were celebrating their 21st birthdays, most of whom were serving abroad.

The cakes were much appreciated and my mother received many letters of thanks from the young men who had received them. The brown of the square represents the dark fruit cake, a great luxury during the war, and the centre motif represents the special occasion.”

Square knitted by Olive Laurie


Wartime childhood memory of Teresa Matthews (sister of Ken Hardacre) – written by her granddaughter Amelia Matthews

“My grandma lived in Padiham during the war and she remembers brown tape being stuck across windows to avoid injury in case they shattered during an air raid. She also used to think that the barrage balloons looked like elephants in the sky! At primary school, someone brought a banana to class.

This was quite an event as nobody had seen one before. All the pupils in the class, including my grandma, enjoyed a slice of the banana. She also told me that when the air raid siren went off all her class were taken to St John’s Church next to the school and had to sit under the altar for safety.

The beige in my square represents the strips of tape on the windows and the grey is for the ‘elephants’ in the sky. The stripe of yellow is the one slice of banana my grandma tasted and the green is the altar cloth at the church.”

Square knitted by Amelia Matthews


Wartime childhood memory of Barbara Riding

“I remember visiting the hairdresser as a child. It wasn’t fashionable to have straight hair in the 30s and 40s. My mother let me have my hair permed while still at junior school. She took me to a hairdressers on Bolton Road.

“In those days your hair was wound round a bobbin which was clipped onto a wire fastened to a machine somewhere over your head. I was very scared in case there was an air raid. What would happen to me hung up by my hair to a machine?

“Barbara’s square is knitted with a light brown background to represent the sepia of an old photo and black to represent the curlers and wires.”

Square knitted by Val Jessop

Eid Creative Craft Activity – Saturday 1st May 2021

On Saturday, 1st May, staff and students from the Joint Honours’ programmes at Blackburn University Centre took part in another online event with Blackburn Children’s University and Eachstep Care Home. 57 children attended the event and had great fun decorating bunting and making ‘moon and star’ mobiles to celebrate Eid.  Some of the children also met online with residents from Eachstep Care Home and enjoyed colouring cards for Eid and chatting to each other.

Sara Burton, Blackburn Children’s University Manager, said:  “This was another fantastic event.  The staff and students from Blackburn University Centre gave up their Saturday to run this and provided the children with lots of fun activities to do.  Children were able to share stories and messages with some residents from Eachstep Care home, which was lovely to see too.”