Throughout my teens and into my early to mid twenties I continued to knit and extend my crafting skills. I moved on from soft toy making to garments and hats. I mastered cables and intarsia methods made cute baby clothes and blankets, tried crochet and even had a go at macrame. Along the way there were many successes and some disasters and one or two UFO’s (unfinished objects).
However life soon got in the way ! Work and family became my priorities and although my stash of yarn continued to grow so did the numbers of UFO’s until finally I stopped crafting almost altogether. By the time I had reached the grand old age of 55 life was very busy. I was working as a SENCO in an inner city comprehensive school in Leeds which served some of the most disadvantaged areas in the city. All the while continuing to support, with my husband, our two children through teenage years and early adulthood with all the challenges that they can bring. I did have a cellar full of beautiful yarns, thousands of knitting patterns, knitting needles and crochet hooks and other associated paraphernalia….but no time to use them. Or so I thought.
So there I was frantically running round and round on the hamster wheel of life with little time for anything else, when disaster struck. As it does for everyone at different points in their life.
My beloved older brother was diagnosed with lung cancer, it was terminal, palliative care the sole option. Sue and I were his only close family. There was no question that we wouldn’t drop everything to care for him…..after all …..remember we had made a pact all those years ago to look after each other.
Helping Sue to care for Bob in the last weeks of his life changed my perspective on my own priorities totally. We were able to share many small intimate moments. During one such moment Bob told me that he felt I had “changed” and not for the good. He said that I needed to “slow down”.
Sitting with him , watching and sharing the London Olympics I found I needed to occupy my hands and calm my frantic mind which was in full overdrive. At the same time one of the many problems or difficulties we needed to resolve was that of his feet. His poor feet and ankles became so swollen that his socks were very tight and he couldn’t wear shoes or slippers. Always looking for solutions and recalling my knitting skills, I used double pointed needles to make him some socks, tailor made to fit. He loved those socks , showed them off to his many visitors and wore them constantly- colourful, warm and comfy.
This making unleashed an avalanche, a desperate need to knit and knit and knit to find some sense of calm amid the horror of the unfolding, unstoppable drama.
Bob and Sue didn’t entirely seem to understand this frantic knitting thing. He rebuked me for being a “tricoteuse”, the nickname for the women who sat knitting beside the guillotine during public executions in revolutionary Paris. But I couldn’t help myself I had to knit. Whenever I could I had to escape the house and search out more yarn, more patterns, more ways to escape my ever churning thoughts.
I had found an inner peace through making.
Finally, I was slowing down.