A Strange Week

I had a birthday BBQ last Wednesday and was destined to head away to Woolfest on Thursday. Between these two things I’d planned to hem and rivet 2 tablecloths and 8 massive banners for my KNITSONIK stand. I was a tad concerned about the tightness of this schedule but there is nothing new about my burning the candle at all ends, so I decided to just go for it.

Wednesday started out joyously with a stack of lovely cards, beautiful messages from comrades everywhere, and a wonderful interview with Jean Fisher. Jean is 92 and remembers working as a seamstress for Elliston & Cavell department store and has lived in Oxford her whole life. It was truly a privilege to spend my birthday morning with her and comrades Cecily and Sue, working on my current project for The Museum of Oxford.

Afterwards I drove home to meet my family. Flowers arrived from Mark, we set up a wondrous picnic area in the garden, we cracked open a bottle of champagne, and the family revealed that they had clubbed together to buy me A DUCK HOUSE! I have been planning to have some wee ducks forever and this was absolutely the push I needed. HURRAH FOR THE DUCK PALACE!

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Barnaby scooted about in my new KNITSONIK portable recording wagon…

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…and played in the DUCK HOUSE…

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…in fact all was amazing until my SiL – who has been unwell for some time now – tragically lost her balance and fell down our stairs. I can honestly say that was THE WORST domestic sound I have ever heard in my life. Ashen and panicked we called for an ambulance. SiL was scooted off to A&E for X-Rays by a team of paramedics while the rest of the family sorted out care for Barnaby and dispersed homewards. My brother traveled in the ambulance with instructions to phone us later for a lift back here and Mark and I quietly tidied away the remnants of the birthday BBQ.

I called my comrades at WOOLFEST to see if I might be allowed to put up my stall early on Friday morning to give me more time at home for my brother and SiL, and to finish preparations for the show. We got the good news that nothing was broken but that the fall had precipitated several seizures and exacerbated underlying epileptic tendencies, so several days of hopsital and testing were in store. My brother wanted to stay for a couple of days and then get home to look after his wee boy. Between visiting hours he helped me to cut all the fabric for my banners. He tidied, he scolded me about the mess in which I was trying to work, and we drank coffee. We pootled between the house and the hospital in the KNITSONIK mobile.

When everything falls apart it’s actually quite good to have something to do… The focused time of pushing those huge sheets of fabric through the machine and looking over to my phone to see if there’d been any news from the hospital were surreal and tense. I was still packing my car up by 10pm on Thursday. When there is Big Stuff going down activities like packing or sewing become extra-methodical, as though putting all the right things in their right boxes will help to restore some order when there is none.

I set off at 11pm thinking I might get a couple of hours of sleep before setting up my stall at Woolfest but, in the end, I arrived near Cockermouth at 5:30am.

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There was barely time to shower at the hotel in which I was staying before a 6am setup for a 10am start. My comrade Jeni Reid – a wonderful friend and an amazing photographer – was my solid companion for the inexplicably long journey. Her periodic texts were a talisman of hope as I drove through the night, hitting the beauteous rise of the landscape around Lancaster just as the sun began to rise and I am more grateful than I can say for her company during all the swirling surrealness that we shared.

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Woolfest was amazing. To my delight I got lots of nice comments on my stall and on the banners especially. I had lots of fantastic conversations with wondrous KNITSONIK comrades about colours, patterns, finding inspiration in the everyday and the joy of SOUND, and I felt I made some new friends in the course of the weekend – it was really very wonderful.

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The birthday flowers from Mark kept the KNITSONIK stall looking fresh and smelling good!


I mostly coped with my lack of sleep though I did forget that I had designed this when some nice ladies came over to ask me about my baby cardigan design. “I’ve never designed a baby cardigan in my life” was the answer which popped out of my mouth until I was shown a photo of said design “Oh yes I did design that one.” Not my proudest moment!

The sheep offered their amazing reassuring baas and my 4pm I was mooching around by the Castlemilk Moorit stand drawing spiritual sustenance from the beautiful faces of their ginger lambs.



Saturday at Woolfest was vastly enhanced by 7 or 8 hours of sleep and a big sack o’ salty cashew nuts, then Sunday was a day of rest with amazing friends and comrades and on Monday I drove home. Yesterday I worked in Oxford, posted off orders of KNITSONIK books and went to the hospital to see how everything is going.

Today I am tidying up the mess I made bringing stuff to and from WOOLFEST, and later I’m visiting my SiL in hospital with a tablet full of audio books to allay the tedious bordeom of the ward. I keep thinking about the role that photos are playing in things at the moment for her; she doesn’t remember my party or much from the past few weeks and photos of what has been going on really help her to put it all together, apparently. And yet it goes without saying that none of us felt it was right to photograph her dramatic exit from my house this time last week and so the only evidence that survives is in our memories.

Between the highs of the duck house and Woolfest and the lows of illness and emergencies in the family it really has been a strange week. This isn’t much of a blog post but I feel – a bit like my SiL – that going through events can sometimes help us to make sense of them.


8 Responses to A Strange Week

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