Clothes Communicate #6 – Mina

Most of the time Mina lives in the UK but throughout her childhood she visited family in Bulgaria during the summer months. Mina’s grandmother still lives in Bulgaria but there is a beautiful, enduring connection between the two of them which is embodied in the jumpers her grandma has knitted for her over the years. Mina went to school in the UK, where everyone has to wear school uniform, usually bought at a supermarket or a special uniform shop. However, Mina’s grandma used to knit her a new school jumper every year, giving her a tangible reminder of their relationship, even though they were far apart geographically.

As well as school jumpers, which always had to be the same colour and style, Mina’s grandma knitted her a huge number of other garments. So many, in fact, that Mina has lost count! She remembers a blue dress, a skirt and cardigan combo and a poncho that she really liked. When she was younger her nan would knit clothes from patterns that she chose herself but as Mina got older and saw specific things she liked, she asked her nan to knit them for her. Her grandma is very good at working out how to knit garments from looking at a photograph so if Mina sees a jumper she likes online or in a shop, she can just send her a picture. Once, Mina found a really interesting white jumper with a knitted pattern she liked a lot so she took a photo of it and sent it to her nan, who spent a good while trying to figure out the pattern. Mina says, “She even called one of her friends to help. It was a whole operation!”

It’s not just Mina who gets to wear her grandma’s hand-knitted creations. Most of the clothes her nan wears herself are hand-knitted, and she also knits for Mina’s mum. Mina says, “I feel like her knitting the jumpers is an act of service. Even though I can’t see her regularly, she likes to chat on Facetime and then she sees me wearing them.” The last jumper she knitted was for Mina’s boyfriend, Dan.

Although Mina has knitted a few things herself and finds the art of knitting fascinating, the thought of attempting to knit a jumper is daunting. However, she highly values the inter-generational legacy of garments knitted with love by her grandma. Perhaps she will even be able to pass some of them on to the next generation as a reminder of her Bulgarian roots.

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