Catch-up

My beloved big-baby brother occasionally sends Mother off on holidays – his sister-in-law works for an airline so she can arrange cheap flights. Last year he sent her over to me for a while. Very sweet of him – he is a lovely person – but Mum is not a good guest. We don’t have a car, and Mother is the sort who would drive to the loo if she could get the car indoors. She’s also from a generation of women who never set foot in houses of ill-repute (pubs to the rest of us), and cinema, theatre, etc., is out as she has the attention span of a goldfish with ADD so anything longer than 30mins stops making sense to her. Not to mention her inability to tolerate silences, which must be filled at all costs – this extends to the afore-mentioned cinema, theatre and indeed tv once she’s lost track of the plot. She once kept me on the phone for 4 hours and 23 minutes on a Saturday afternoon despite my frequent requests to go and do my shopping, laundry, visit the toilet…

All this would not be too bad if her conversation were interesting – and it could be: she is an intelligent, well-educated person with an interesting life. However, her conversation revolves around soaps which I never watch, and food. Specifically, everything that has entered her mouth and the mouths of all her acquaintances within living memory*. I have IBS and cannot eat wheat, buckwheat, sweetcorn, rye, oats, and cabbage, and since I fell pregnant I’ve had severe heartburn when I even think about cream, bananas, smoked fish, cheese, citrus fruit, fruit salad… Guess how much I like talking about food. She doesn’t ask how I’m doing, and could not tell you one thing that I’m interested in, because I don’t get to talk to her, I am talked at. I usually tune her out and just go “ah-ha, mm-hm, oh, dear”, and get on with the dishes, marking, having a bath, whatever.

So she came over for a week or so in the summer. I took her shopping a couple of days, once into town which was maddening – 20mins to get to the bus stop 50 ft from the front door? We got as far as Boots before the shops shut – and once along Stirchley high street. One of the shops we got to was a cheapie shop that sells remainders from catalogues. I’ve got some good stuff there in the past – leather trousers for £10, a suit for £5 – though they generally have a bigger range of 18-plus size clothes. Anyway, she got a lovely swirly patterned skirt and, after a lot of persuasion, a pink suede jacket, both of which looked gorgeous on her.

A while after she’d gone home, I saw some fancy yarns on sale, so I made her 3 scarves, all in pink. The first, at the top is pink and white ostrich yarn, which I made a keyhole scarf out of – there’s a hole about one-third of the way in that you can loop the other end of the scarf through, done by knitting half the stitches on the needle up to the required length of the hole, then put them on a stitch holder and breaking off the yarn, and knitting the other half of the stitches to the same length, then joining the two sides together and knitting to the end. I found this yarn very hard to work with. It seemed to lose a lot of fluff – even though it’s not fluffy as such – which got into my eyes and nose and irritated them.

The yarn for the second scarf, in the second and third pics, was like bunting! A long string, with little square ‘flags’, in a range of pinks from palest off-white to a deep plummy purple, at roughly one-inch intervals. Although choosing the needles was tricky – the band said 8mm – it worked up quite easily on one 4mm and one 10mm, to enhance the lacy effect.

The final scarf, in pic 4, was in pink-and-white eyelash. It’s just an ordinary rectangular scarf, nothing fancy. I really liked working with this: it flowed well, and produced a lovely furry effect, though counting the stitches was difficult. I’ve acquired a huge stash of it in a variety of colours, of which more later!

All of these were knitted when I was still working nights at the Hub, hence the model – a very scary Angel left over from the Christmas display in the church next door!

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* – Really. The menu from the wedding of the stepdaughter of a cousin of her next door neighbour but one, which was not attended by my mother or her neighbour, was the object of one of our recent telephone conversations.

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