A local farming family has given an heirloom to the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) in Hawes, after visiting the museum’s current special exhibition of ancient knitting sticks.
Dennis Iveson, from High Force, Bainbridge, has donated a knitting stick and prodder used by the late Martha Dinsdale of Appersett, who is said to have been one of the last of the prodigious sock makers of the Dales.
The gift is poignant as Mrs Dinsdale’s rocking chair – in which she was photographed while knitting with the stick in 1947 – is already on display.
The knitting stick was kept by Martha Dinsdale’s son, Owen Tom, a farmer renowned for thrift. On Owen Tom’s death, Mr Iveson, a relative, took on the belongings and says it’s time for them to ‘go back to the community’.
The stick can be seen in the DCM’s textiles gallery, which compliments ‘Love Tokens, Sittings and Song – Knitting sticks from the John Dixon collection’, a special exhibition running until 27 March.
Mr Iveson, holding the knitting stick at the DCM, said: “They had a sale of all items out of Tom’s house after he died, a two-day Hopper’s sale at the Market Hall. This [knitting stick] was Martha’s and I wouldn’t let Billy Lambert sell it in the sale. It had to stay in the family. But nobody wants it now. I just thought it would be of interest to people coming to look. It should go back to the community.”
The DCM is run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Member Champion for Promoting Understanding, Kevin Frea, said: “We were thrilled to receive a donation of Martha Dinsdale’s knitting stick, prodder, ledger and two framed photographs. These will be a wonderful addition to Martha’s rocking chair which is already on display, having been donated many years ago by her son Owen Tom. Thanks so much to the donors for their generosity. “Knitting is a huge part of the cultural heritage of the Dales. Our special exhibition has only a month to run; through the individuality of the knitting sticks you can get a sense of those that used them and the past is brought to life.”