I am in holiday mode. As I've mentioned before, unemployed people don't get holidays because life is a permanent holiday for them. Yeah, right. A holiday on which you can't spend any money - can barely even afford to buy life-sustaining food. But Sandra is on holiday, so it feels like I am too. And I really will be on Friday, when we fly to New Zealand for a few days to see my daughter and her family. This holiday has been booked for a long time (ie when I had an income), and I am really looking forward to it.
What am I knitting? I am making a scarf for Nan, who is 88 years old. She is not my grandmother; Nan is her name and it's more complicated than that. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
In 1951 John and Maimie Ward adopted a baby girl. They named her Mary-Helen. They probably didn't think too much about the woman who'd given birth to her, and as I grew I was told vague stories about a girl who couldn't look after me, so she'd given me to them to look after. No probs.
Fast forward to 1987, after a change in the law in New Zealand made it possible for me to find out who my 'real' mother was. Imagine my horror to discover that the woman who'd given birth to me, Pat, had in fact been 43 years old at the time. I traced her quite easily - she was still in the Wellington phone book - and wrote to her. In reply I received a phone call from a woman called Nan, who said that she had been living with Pat since 1948 and I obviously had the wrong woman. The Pat she knew hadn't ever had a baby. I told her gently that it was definitely the right woman - she had given her age at my birth as 43, which meant she was born in either 1906 or 1907. No other woman of that name had been born in New Zealand for five years each side of the age of my birth mother. Shocked, Nan hung up. Two days later I got a moving letter from her: apologising, saying she now realised there were a few months 'missing' from Pat's life in 1951, and explaining that Pat had Alzheimers, so she would have no idea who I was, but that i would be welcome to visit.
I did visit. It was dreadfully difficult. Nan wanted me to be something I couldn't be - I suppose some kind of replacement for the Pat whose body she still cared for so lovingly but whose mind had gone. I just couldn't do that. But I did visit a few times, and in 1989 Pat had to go into care, as Nan reluctantly admitted she could no longer care for her. Pat died in 1995, and at her funeral I met my cousin Mark and his partner Gary, and thus made contact with a whole web of family connections. Mark and my daughter Elizabeth and I helped Nan to scatter Pat's ashes in the garden that they both loved, and this photo was taken that day.
You can see Lizzie and her husband Rob, Mark, Nan and me.
I still visit Mark whenever I am in Wellington. This time I will be also visiting Nan: hence the scarf. I last saw her five years ago, when I returned for the birth of my first grandchild. She lives a way out of the city, and it isn't always possible on my flying visits to see her, but this may be the last time. Although, knowing Nan, she will be around for Rebekah's graduation from University! She has always been an outdoorsy sort of grrl; she last climbed Mt Taranaki in her early seventies, and since then has done a spot of white-water rafting.
This is a simple garter stitch scarf, a la Sally Melville's in The Knit Stitch. You change colours every row and leave the ends long (having knotted them) to form the fringe. It's out of the stash except for one ball of Heirloom 'Amore' that i bought to give some depth (reds and greens) to the rather neutral/coppery colour combo.
It's so pretty I think I will make one more for myself in these colours.