Hanks for the visit
It was quiet in the wee lounge when I paid an unscheduled visit today, some of the ladies were having a nap. As I popped my head around the door, I was spotted and invited in. I could not resist a blether, a song and a tune or two on the box.
Today several of my songs were new to the group and the lyrics brought about, great hilarity. What is it about group laughter? One fuels the other. I listened to the laughter and wondered whether the staff thought. What is going on in there? The funny macaronic songs were a hit. I Once had a Girlfriend that came from Cromore and When I went to Glasgow first a mach a Tir nam Beann.
One singing giggling lady had a visitor and swithered about leaving the room. A lady visitor from the street then took her armchair and joined in the song circle. This time it was the evergreen Lovely Stornoway with the chorus Ied by the very lady she had come to visit. Another resident, who never sits for long and seems to sit to one side of the main group, joined us the minute there was an empty seat. She laughed when the rest laughed, relaxed, became a member of the gang and stayed seated for a good half hour.
There were only six armchairs in the wee lounge and as I passed on the way to the water fountain, I realised two ladies had come to sit in the hallway outside the room. One of them addressed me “There was only one song there I did not have. And the title of that other one was actually MacDonald’s First visit to Glasgow. What about my brothers favourite, as she launched into Eilean Beag Donn a’ Chuain”
After the singsong in the wee lounge, I went to see a lady who had participated in the group session the day we had brought the spinning wheel and the different colours of Harris Tweed. I had extended both my arms wrapped in a Harris wool hank and she had promptly began to wind it around her fingers and made a ball, as I swayed left to right feeding the yarn into her capable hands.
I had thought of her yesterday when I discovered a hank of reddy brown wool on my loft. When I enquired about her whereabouts today I was told “She is in her room knitting”. Turns out this lady not only knits furiously, she has her own stall when they have a Care Centre Sale of Work. So my hunch had been bang on, but what I only realised on our second meeting was that she was unable to communicate vocally.
After introducing myself, I examined the hank in my hands. In the company of an experienced knitter I was not going to pull and break the crosswise thread which keeps the hank together in transit. I had several attempts at opening the knot on the bands, on admitting defeat I just extended my hank covered arms towards her, one tug and they were unravelled and we were away, making balls of the reddy brown hank.
If you have ever extended your arms with a hank of wool, you will allow me this. Some of my childhood insecurities came back, have I mixed up the loop putting it on my arm, did I lose concentration and has it slipped to one side. Am I extending my arms far enough, will it come unstuck if there is a snag in the wool loop?
Well we had a sticky start, but the lovely silent lady studied and deftly gave the wool a sharp tug and occasionally would thread the wee ball through the strands. And we were off. She motioned to me about the size of the ball, was it big enough, should she start another ball. The shared understanding of workable ball size helped me to communicate. Yes. She would measure the width of the hank with her fingers and I could see what she was planning. It was a huge hank and we got five equally sized balls.
As I swayed back and forth feeding the line of wool I sang work-songs, mouth music and whatever else came to my lips. By this time I could not stop singing, having spent an hour and a half in the wee lounge. I tried some funny Gaelic stories from her part of the island and by the humorous twinkle in her eye I knew I was speaking her language in more sense than one.
Searching for a poly bag in her drawer when we finished, her face lit up with the joy of a creative knitter when I said the wool was now hers. I will be going to the Bethesda Shop tomorrow to see if there are any hanks, not balls no thanks, just hanks.