Sleep and I are distant bed fellows at the moment, so if I want to do anything that involves spelling, thinking in reasonably straight lines and/or communicating I must seize the day before the day seizes me and bashes me repeatedly about the head.
I was going to tell you about Tilly’s new hobby – so I shall.
She has long been mulling over the idea of knitting. On Monday we went to Rugby to do some treasure hunting (no charity shops within a sixty mile radius are safe from me – oh no), and when we were having a small rest stop which involved facefuls of cake in a sewing cafe we found, she bought knitting needles and wool.
As an aside – I do not understand sewing cafes. They are a newish thing, well they are round here anyway. I have seen a couple recently and I wonder how one manages to stuff cake into the cake hole whilst, say, sewing a fine seam? Why do people not end up covered in cake…and blood, and possibly having eaten their needle or something?
I had hoped that visiting one of these places might shed some light on the matter, but no, everyone was doing the sensible bit, i.e. eating all the cake, and nobody was doing the whipping up a pair of dungarees thing, so I am none the wiser.
The cake was very good, the coffee was excellent and I did not eat any needles, so top marks sewing cafe. I will be visiting again, and this time I hope I can see someone in action. Someone who isn’t me.
While I was eating the cake, my friend showed Tilly how to cast on, something which I have never managed to do, and then showed her how to do the basic knitting stitch. She was away.
Firstly she has started off her knitting career by becoming a mobile knitter. She knits in the car. She knits in shops, she knits at the table. She trails around everywhere, knitting furiously, and I use the word furiously advisedly. It is not that she is doing great quantities of knitting. It is that she is knitting with a fierce and angry concentration which is quite, quite exhausting to watch. It is a bit like WWF but with knitting.
She is not the most focused of girls at the best of time. When she was small she used to tell me that she preferred living in Tilly land, where it was much nicer than the real world. Not much has changed, and she is forever forgetting that she exists on this plane and tripping over, under, round things all the live long day. The knitting is not helping, and when she a) dropped a stitch, and b) snapped her wool as I was doing sixty miles an hour down a country road on the way back to Lutterworth, harsh words were spoken due to the fact I nearly crashed into a hedge while she was squeaking. It is very difficult to change gear when your footwell is a mass of rainbow coloured merino wool and distressed teenager let me tell you.
Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t have to put up with this sort of thing.
Secondly, because of this furiousnessness, she is a tense knitter. Now I sympathise here. She comes from a long line of tense knitters. My grandmother was a very tense knitter, who used to make scarves that were so angry and bunched up that even though they looked like regular scarves they had all the heft of a piece of dark matter and would actually snap your neck in twain were you to try and wear them. My nanna was also a fierce knitter. I remember crying with sheer terror at a particularly troublesome cardigan she knitted me one Christmas which, of course, I was obliged to wear, and in which I could not actually bend my arms or defend myself from would be attackers. It was the fashion equivalent of wearing an iron lung.
In my own brief and inglorious career I worked out a lot of inner tension, or I did until my mother used to shout ‘RELAX FOR GOD’S SAKE WOULD YOU?’ so then I would go all floppy and my knitting would go all loopy and the end result looked like an art installation rendition of some kind of heart trace monitor with all bunched up tight, angry bits, and floppy holey bits and it was all doom and doom and doom.
Thirdly, the tension she is working under means that the wool is clinging so tightly to the knitting needles she has to use brute force to get it on and off the needles and, as the needles are wooden, they are scraping together with a ‘SCREE SCREE SCREE’ sound every time a stitch is made or unmade. It is quite an upsetting noise. Not only that but I fear that if she rubs them together too much they may actually catch fire, and the progress she has made will be undone into dust and ashes. Well, mainly ashes.
She has, so far, gone from 20 stitches to 19 stitches, to 23 stitches. There are aeration holes aplenty. She has also given herself hand cramps, back ache and the beginning of a hunch back. I await blisters with a sense of calm inevitability.
My friend said that she found knitting relaxing.
Last night, as I was doing the relentless round of EBay negotiations, and Tilly was hunched over the kitchen table going ‘SCREE SCREE BUGGERIT SCREE’ she said: ‘I am enjoying this knitting, but I can’t find it relaxing.’
I nodded sagely. I cannot find it relaxing either, and I’m not the one doing it. I had to put my knitting lessons on hold due to a husband in Germany, but given how stressful I find watching Tilly I don’t know whether I will be ever taking it up again. There cannot be two generations going ‘SCREE SCREE BUGGERIT SCREE’. It will be like having a houseful of mad tricoteuses waiting for the heads to start rolling into the baskets.
She is, of course, making the ubiquitous scarf, where all the righteous knitters of the world begin their odyssey into the hall of knitting fame. Whether it remains a scarf is still to be seen. I will keep you posted.