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Harold Harvey - Winding Wool

Harold Harvey- Winding Wool

(Psalm 102: 26)

They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them and they shall be changed.

Candia, I’ve joined a knitting group, confided Brassica.  It’s

ever so relaxing and the old ladies who tutor us are founts of knowledge

about all things domestic.  Do you fancy coming along?

Not likely, I replied. Nothing personal, but I knitted most of my childhood

away, as I was taught by my granny.  Fair Isle, Aran, lacy patterns- the

lot.  The arthritis in my neck would probably do me in.  It’s bad enough

typing out all my posts.

But you haven’t published anything for over a week.

All right.  All right- it was my significant birthday and I was a little

busy.  However, if you like I’ll post an old knitting poem.

Yes, do, said Brassica- I think, sincerely.


Although the Revolution’s tricoteuses seemed to lack compassion,

continuing to ply their spattered textiles in the shadow of the block,

from them my grandmother drew her grim determination,

as she created new from old, transcending all the limitations of the clock,

unravelling the past and resurrecting garments, phoenix-fashion,

resuscitating the obsolete, tethering all the tricks of transmutation.

And when my arms, like Moses’*, felt the strain,

supporting yet another elongated skein,

while she wound the interminable yarn into a tortuous ball,

which would have amply led her through King Minos’ hall;

although in Clotho’s** posture, I staged no insurrection,

secured in a cat’s cradle of familial connection.

She monitored the tension while her matriarchal web she wove,

paralysing her kin by invisible cords of love.

And when her last dropped stitch had been incorporated neatly;

completely disentangled all the snarled knots and joins,

Atropos*** snipped her thread and cast her off discretely.

Turned over, we made sense of her designs.

Robert Gemmell Hutchison, Woman and Child Winding Wool by Robert Gemmell Hutchison, late 19th–early 20th century

* Exodus 17

**Clotho- spinner of the thread of life.  The youngest of the Fates.

*** -‘the inevitable’- the fate who cut the thread of Life.