Poems

Knitting

If I wrote a poem about knitting it would be about colours and how some of them, say rust and navy, just really want to be together, and the smell of those soft pattern books from between the wars with brown photographs of women wearing cosy twin sets, or matching vest and knickers, and trying to get in touch with the past, and living a simpler life where things are made, and unravelling and sorting out maths problems with a blunt pencil, and symmetry and pattern, and the shaping all going wrong or the sleeves turning out too short, and how using modern wool with a 1930s pattern ends up looking a bit odd, and experimenting with a baby’s pilch, a word that doesn’t even exist now, meaning knitted pants to go over a nappy before plastic ones, because wool can hold its own weight in water without dripping, and knitting small things with a baby asleep, and he looks a bit swamped but he fits into the stripy jumper until he starts school, and the toddler wears that jumper his sister wore and a matted dribble patch develops on the front, and then the regret of discarding the poor old things, slinging them into the Oxfam bag and wishing they were all still here as a back-catalogue of the decades of industrious clicking, all those hours sat knitting and splicing ends to join in a new ball, and choosing what to knit next, and finding the right sized needles and using wool that might do, and imagining, and the thrill of casting on and then seeing the rib emerge and my mother saying that’ll never fit you, and the tools collected over the years – horrid plastic needles that smell weird, cold metal needles, steel gauges, short needles for children to learn on, useless double ended needles, needles made from bamboo which are too light weight, all lined up in a cloth roll, and odd ones and big pins to hold stitches and puncturing a numbered piece of paper to keep count of rows and if it turns out awful it can be undone and re-knitted as something else, and darning, what a useful and neglected art that is, a woven patch worked into a worn out elbow or heel, and all the while half watching a crummy film on TV surrounded by muddly baskets of wool. And somehow I would want to say, quite strongly, that it is not about making a fucking cover for an iPod or knitting a stupid joke teapot.

img_6711

Advertisements