In mid-December, a twelve-year-old girl was climbing some boulders with her friends, as she had done so many times before. It was a warm evening; there was laughter, and a pleasing sense of approaching holidays. Christmas was not far off.
Then she slipped. She fell a long way, landing on rocks.
I was at home that evening, when my phone rang. There were four minutes and forty-four seconds remaining in the episode of Gilmore Girls when I hit pause. The girl who fell was my eldest daughter, and she was badly injured.
What followed is a haze of sleepless nights and hard days. Our summer plans changed dramatically. Seven fractures – one of which required surgery – and a dizzying schedule of medical appointments, left us feeling drained.
Knitting during those eight weeks became difficult. Out of necessity, I had to change the type of knitting I was doing. My design-brain receded to the background, and I oscillated between frantic, distracted knitting, and meditative enjoyment.
My focus was on the textures I could feel running through my hands. I noted the quality of the fibres, the detail of the stitches, and the alchemy of transforming string into fabric. I couldn’t think straight, or make decisions, or organise things beyond the essential. But I could still knit. And I could still take notice.
I knitted at my daughter’s hospital bedside. I knitted at my parents’ house while she was recovering. I was not making huge progress with any of my projects, but it seemed essential to me to stay in touch with them.
More than one friend sent me packages of gorgeous things. Being separated from my stash was a discomfort I didn’t expect to feel! So the arriving parcels of yarn were a boost and a joy.
Knitting was also an asset in the waiting-room settings we found ourselves in over the summer. On one occasion I pulled out a ball of White Gum Wool silk/merino (undyed), and began working on a shawl. Before long, the gentleman opposite me was enquiring, “Is that some of Nan’s wool?” A retired woolgrower, he had good things to say about Nan Bray and her methods. He wanted to feel the yarn, and I gladly passed it to him. The ball went on a little journey around the waiting room, as first his son, and then some other ladies in the room held the yarn. I delighted in the look of softness that passed over all their faces as they touched the fibre. Such a simple interaction helped bring me back to a sense of normality, and I felt grounded in a way I hadn’t felt for some weeks.
My other contribution to healing was to decorate my daughter’s leg cast and crutches. She chose her favourite colours, I spared no expense on yarn, and we both enjoyed brightening up those mundane surfaces. When the cast came off, I even adapted the ‘sock’ to fit over her moonboot. The word ‘OUCH’, stitched onto the sock, made us smile.
Our girl is making a good recovery, and we are both stunned and thankful that her injuries were not worse. I am ever-grateful for knitting, for wool, and for days that open up time to craft, whatever else may be happening in the world.