18.09.13 Hat parade, a brilliant workshop and a gift from God

Hat parade



How cute is this – the hat’s not bad either……………..all patterns will soon be available on my website………………keep watching this space!

My publisher has given me a ‘knit till your fingers bleed’ deadline – and I’m loving it – but it does mean that other things have been rather neglected,  my blog in particular .

But I did get to spend a day at Sarah Hatton’s Rowan work shop in Cambridge. Sarah is a remarkable teacher (and so pretty with a halo of dark curly hair). She makes sure that everyone in the class understands each step and somehow does this without holding the more experienced knitter back. The class was on ‘finishing techniques’ and was a lovely day out. All the class was enthusiastic; we were a mixed bunch from old hands ( hands I said – not hags) like me to knitters who’d only been at it a year or so – what exciting things we all have in store……………..

The class of 12th September

The class of 12th September

The lovely Sarah Hatton

The lovely Sarah Hatton

Yesterday was another day off for me – although I did take my knitting out to lunch (It ate hardly anything!) – seriously, I hadn’t seen my sister for ages – she lives in Northamptonshire – I saw her a month ago, when she and her husband brought their motor home to nearby Denver Sluice – an amazing place, canals and sluices dug out by hand – a miracle of engineering and sheer determined hard work – well worth a visit……….. we drove over with our northern family to have lunch with them at a nearby (waterside) pub. Then low and behold, this week they were motor-homing near Kings Lynn and I drove over and brought them back here for the day……….

Of course, meeting with a sibling brings back a huge amount of memories and emotional baggage. ……………. Roberta is 18 months older than me, we are totally chalk and cheese, she being fair and I was very dark, until the silver (- please note, silver, not grey) crept in. And here’s one of the big emotional memories of my young life…………I was 15 my sister 16. My mother worked, so I was quite used to coming home to an empty house, only on this particular day everything was different. To begin with, the door wasn’t locked, the dog was shut in the garden, the lunch things were still on the table (I attended a school in the next town and was never home for lunch). There was an eiderdown tossed on the sofa, it was paisley; I remember every little detail about that room. There was no note, no explanation……………I just knew there was something terribly wrong…………….

After some time, a neighbour, a friend of my mother’s  came, she told me that my sister had ‘fainted’ and been taken to hospital. I will spare you the blow by blow details, although I remember every minute………………..She was in the hospital in the next town.  A friend took me to the hospital where I found our local vicar hovering over the bed,  my mother looking fearful, and talk of tests and lumber punctures………….Roberta had had a cerebral haemorrhage (a stroke), and was not expected to live. I spent that first night at the neighbour’s house. I didn’t sleep, I prayed and I prayed …………..I traded with God, I promised that I would never do anything bad ever again so long as she lived…………………….how vivid that memory is today, even after so many years.

Roberta survived one, then two, then three days, but surgery was needed to remove a large blood clot that had formed on her brain and the only place to do this was the Cromwell Road Hospital in London………..

My mother had never been to London in her life. A country girl from birth, then a land army girl during the war………. all city’s were bewildering and scary to her……….She went with my sister in the ambulance, stayed by her side for two days until the operation was over……then was politely told she’d have to find some accommodation of her own.

During the war evacuees were posted in my grandmother’s house, two children from the East End of London aged nine and ten, they were there for most of the war; their mother visiting them as often as she could. It was to their home that my mother went on that wet and windy night (how she found her way I’ll never know) I do know that she didn’t arrive there until 11 pm – not many people had telephones back then. Money was very short, my father had left home 3 years earlier and gave nothing to help the family either financially or emotionally. Without her wages we had literally nothing to live on, there were no benefits in those days.  But she did find her way to her evacuees door and was greeting with a hug and the words, “You took us in when we needed protection,  now we shall take you in and help you”. And they did, my mother stayed with them for weeks. I lived at home alone, my first taste of independence!

My sister made a good but slow recovery, she has never lost the weakness in her left side and now that side is crippled with arthritis and she can do almost nothing for herself, but her life has been good and fulfilling……………..and my mother? Sadly, she never lived long enough to see Roberta back to health……………..the symptoms of my mother’s  illness were very apparent to her, but she refused to visit the doctor until Roberta was well;  she died of cervical cancer at 10.30 pm on  13th May 1965, she was 45 years old……………….Another moment in my life that I will never forget – God didn’t want to trade that day…………….

On 13th May each year, I do something good, maybe a visit to a lonely tenant, or flowers for a harassed mother………………I never tell the recipient  why I’m doing this ……………….fulfilling my trade with God for my sister’s life perhaps?



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