One of my darling friends has hit a rough patch in life. Maybe the last she will have to face, but you know how hard those things are to predict. You may have detected this from the knitting in hospitals that I’ve mentioned a few times. But now we’ve passed that stage. Her family decided to move her to a nursing home nearer where they live, and far from where I live. It’s one of those tough situations where my friend isn’t able to make big decisions for herself at present, and she has been fragile and struggling for too long. It’s likely she will not be able to live independently again, and supporting her from far away has been very hard for her family, while many of her friends have struggles of their own that make it difficult for them to visit her. Some of them are no longer very mobile themselves. In this way she will be nearer three generations of her family and meet great grandchildren she has never been able to see.
I met her at handspinners’ guild, and when I first met her she was knitting a complex Aran sweater for one of her sons (her sons are about the age of my parents, some of them are older). In recent years she has knit the same distinctive hat over and over again, and then sometimes I’ve driven her to Guild and she has enjoyed the company and sat with her knitting in her hands. She has been unable to spin for a few years now, and couldn’t face knitting in the recent times I’ve visited her in hospital wards and nursing homes.
Finally one of her sons and one of her daughters-in-law came here to clear out her beloved and now empty home. They were overcome by the task of figuring out what to do with her fibre stash and it was something I could do to help, to figure out how to manage that. I spoke with her a couple of times about what she would like to happen but she couldn’t bring herself to care much. Those wishes that she expressed to me or to her family, were all honoured. I met that part of her family, we shared a little of our mutual grief and some of our happy experiences of our shared human treasure, and then I took away fabric, spinning equipment, wool in every stage from raw fleece to rovings and batts to spun yarn, and so much more. Like the inside of her home, everything was impeccably organised and meticulously stored.
I’ve organised for equipment to go to people who can use it or to the Guild for resale. Yarns have gone to knitters–the vibrant rainbow-dyed yarns she favoured creating in the last few years to people who love colour; the mohair collection to someone who delights in mohair; fleeces were sold at the Guild to people who will appreciate and spin them; and equipment for all manner of crafts she enjoyed over the decades has been passed on to people who will use and enjoy it. Her sewing machine is in the shop for repair prior to rehoming. The electric spinner she never really made friends with has gone to someone else who is finding treadling harder and more painful (just as she did) and who can return to loving spinning as I result, I hope.
In the meantime, I’ve found myself spinning all kinds of fibres from her stash, starting with small quantities of things that didn’t seem sensible to try to re-home. I’ve also been knitting hats from smaller quantities of her undyed handspun and some of the small balls of rainbow dyed yarn that didn’t fit into the packs that went to people who love to knit. It has felt like a way to hold her in my mind in these times when she is suffering and yet hard to reach. She has suffered a further injury and is back in hospital far away and in such difficulty she is hard to understand on the phone. So, here’s to Joyce, her sense of humour, her enjoyment of wool and her love for a snug hat.