Hello friends and fellow knitters, I am sorry it has been a long time since my last post…in fact, 7 months!
What a year 2020 has been. I have spent a few weeks thinking about what to talk about and have had a multitude of conflicting ideas. I have tried to come up with some themes or order but everything seems a jumble of emotions, events and ideas, with no understanding of what the future holds… I guess my thinking reflects what is going on around us all!
I do know one thing, knitting and sewing have kept me going over this very difficult year. I will talk about my projects at a later date, and how they have influenced me, but first I have to acknowledge the horrendous time that we are all going through.
I have previously discussed the loss of my wonderful Dad on January 30th 2020 with a longstanding health problem. His loss has created a big hole in my life and I find myself talking to him from time to time. During nurse training I studied the theory of grief and came across a lot of patients who had experienced loss – I knew nothing. Kubler-Ross is wrong. It is not about a series of stages, I have gone from one stage to another, and then gone back into it. I have had periods of time where I think I am doing well, then a song comes on the radio, or a feature on the television has me in floods of tears. I have been in two stages at the same time. Key anniversaries are difficult, Father’s Day, his birthday, my birthday, Christmas and soon the anniversary of his death. Even now I have the occasional automatic “wait till I tell Dad this!” Then realise I can’t tell him. They are very rare now.
It has made me realise that Dad was always interested in what I was doing, always encouraged me, and always had something interesting to share. We used to watch The Repair Room together enraptured, emotional and transfixed, watching the skilled people mending things.
My Mum has been so brave, focusing on the practical side of things, being supportive whilst I was once again upset as we talked about him. Now her health is failing. She has a number of issues that we are doing our best to support her with, but there is a feeling of deja-vu going on. I am automatically in “nurse” mode, being practical and trying to make things easier for her. She is a very proud lady and does not want “the world” to know how she is. So be it.
Julie suffered Dad’s loss keenly, and as it coincided with her home’s lock-down, she became very distressed. We did our best to maintain contact with her by waving through the window, but it was not easy. We had a brief spell where we could visit her in the summer.
That didn’t last long when the covid numbers started to go up and she had to be protected again. I wondered how we could communicate with her and let her know that we all love her and are thinking about her and missing her. She struggles with the telephone. I had a brainwave of collecting video messages from everyone and then making a DVD with them. I pestered our family and friends – and they were BRILLIANT! Mike spent ages putting them on the computer and then transferring them to a DVD and she loves them. We did one after she came out from hospital, and then another one for her birthday (23rd Dec) and Christmas. I think the staff at her home must be sick of seeing them. They told me that she played the first one 7 times in a row, and when people said “Hello Julie” she answered them every time. We are working hard to keep her spirits up. She had a smart phone for her birthday and the staff help her to use it. It is lovely to be able to send her photo’s and do video calls.
Mum had a number of investigations after becoming ill, resulting in ambulances taking her to A&E, admitting her on one occasion briefly, and at the same time my health deteriorated. I had a virus which saw my temperature spike to 38.9 degrees C, which didn’t respond to paracetamol. I had a covid test but was negative. I lost a stone in weight and every joint hurt. My head was very sore. I am now almost recovered but am still not 100% and it is 3 months later!
Enough of the doom and gloom, knitting has kept me going. I have loved sitting and performing the rhythmic activity of creating something cuddly and useful. I find that I can multi-task when I am knitting, so if the pattern isn’t too complex, I can read too. I have enjoyed audiobooks and knitted away happily in another world. My sister Helen has also found knitting to be a calming influence and we have been encouraging each other, talking about our projects. However, knitting does not stop me from thinking.
There are so many uncertainties at the moment, that sometimes I just want to switch off and escape. Sewing does this for me. I have to be so observant and concentrate when I am sewing that there is no room for any other thoughts. My mind is full of the task in hand. Sewing has been a life-line for me.
I have really enjoyed myself sewing project bags, knitting needle cases, crochet hook cases, masks, tray mats and coasters, a mobile phone case, and adapting some bedding to make it fit a single bed too. All this is new for me. I have a fantastic sewing machine and am loving spending time with it. I think that lots of people must be turning to crafting during lockdown as my knitting needle cases have been very popular!
Some of my latest knitting needle cases, they come with a full set of 18 pairs of bamboo needles, 34cm long, ranging from 2.25mm to 10mm!
Knitting has always been a part of my life and looking through some photographs, I was surprised at how many were featuring my handiwork.
After I had Paul in 1984, I decided to be a stay at home Mum, and spent 6 wonderful years with my children, before going back into nursing.
My very first colour work, an intarsia Phildar pattern of a teddy bear on the beach for my first son Paul, when he was about 16 months old. I loved doing it, and knit it in Sirdar Countrystyle DK.
He went on to have lots of picture jumpers and loved his snowman jumper when he was 3 years old.
When Craig was born my confidence had grown and soon he too was having picture jumpers.
I loved knitting the bear themed jumpers with the googly eyes. The cardigan that I am wearing on this walk around Tenby is brushed chunky acrylic. It was very cheap, very comfortable and warm, and quick to knit.
During this time we were strapped for cash, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was lucky that we had this time together. When Paul had his 5th birthday I told him that he could design his own jumper, that he could draw whatever he wanted on the outline that I had drawn for him, and that I would knit it. He spent ages considering colours and I was overjoyed when it was a series of straight lines! This is the exact pattern that he wanted and so I was able to do it in very little time. The pale sections look like white in the photograph but they are pale grey. I knit it in time for his birthday and here he is posing (strangling) his little brother who is wearing his “Gordon and Thomas” jumper.
A few years later, Craig wanted to go to school dressed as a character in a book, he chose Stanley Bagshaw. We used to love his stories and so I knit a waistcoat the same as the character’s.
During a knitting group, my lovely friend Liz told me that the author, Bob Wilson used to live in Werrington and I googled him and told him about Craig- sharing the photograph, and told him about my grandson Miles (Craig’s eldest) who was now enjoying his stories. I bought his DVD with the full series of stories, and he dedicated it to Miles. He asked if he could use the photo of Craig dressed as Stanley on his website and of course I agreed – fame! Such happy memories!
My Dad would have loved this!
Hopefully, now that this vaccine programme is under way, we will be able to see some improvement in the situation, but I am sure it will be a few months before any relaxation of the current restrictions can take place.
I hope that everyone who reads this, is safe and well. Please protect yourself and others. This is a very difficult time for my ex-colleagues in the NHS. They are not heroes, they are brilliant, highly educated, caring, professional individuals who are doing the job that they wanted in unbelievably difficult times. Please don’t clap on your doorstep. Keep warm, keep inside, avoid contact with others and most of all let’s acknowledge the essential work that they do to save our lives by paying them accordingly!