Student Nurse AKA Cat Girl has been spending the last few months on work placement. This has involved everything from holding the hands of expectant mothers as they give birth, sobbing uncontrollably at the beauty of a caesarean to helping with geriatric and psychiatric patients.
Her last placement was at a centre for people with psychiatric problems and a lot of the time there was spent doing arts and crafts with them as part of their therapy. She came home one evening clutching two huge, chunky knitting needles and a ball of wool the thickness of my little finger. “I’ve learned how to knit,” she declared, sitting beside me and painfully slowly winding the wool over the needles and creating a stitch. She spent the rest of the evening, holding the needles and winding the wool over the stitches until she had finished a row and then repeated this.
“I want to learn how to do purl stitch,” she said, already bored of doing the simple stitch which she clearly had yet to master. “Do you know how to do it?”
I took the needles from her and deftly would them around my fingers and began to do the purl stitch, trying to go slowly so that she could see where the stitches went and how the direction of the needles changed. She got the idea, but still could not master the art of having the wool wound around her fingers so that she did not need to take her hand off the needle each time to make a stitch.
“Have you ever knitted anything?” she asked a while later, after I had unravelled and found yet another dropped stitch.
“Oh yes,” I said, reaching over the side of the sofa and showing her a piece of grey knitting – it measures around 10 inches in depth and is the back of a sweater. Seeing how impressed she was, I fished around in the cupboard and pulled out the completed front of the same sweater.
“Wow,” she said, examining the masterpiece I was creating, “When did you start this?”
I grinned, I knew exactly when I had bought the wool, precisely 20 years ago, as something to do after we moved from England and I didn’t have the vast garden I once had to occupy me, I had started knitting the sweater in 1997 – and have still only completed the back and half of the front… it is an ongoing project.