This week we're completing the chapter on Sharing from this year's book study, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket.
SQUEEZING IN FOYLES
Initially knitting alone at home, Jane eventually ventured out to sit with a group of other knitting enthusiasts at a wooden table in the cafe at Foyles Bookshop. Occasionally only a few would turn up and other times the 'squeeze' meant you needed to be rather careful if you were knitting with long needles.
"But I am quite happy with a little compression, because it reminds me of the value of knitting groups like ours." (page 214)
A few reasons Jane loves the knitting group at Foyles are these -
* you don't need to book ahead
* you don't need to reserve a seat
* you can arrive and leave when you please
* no age limits
* you can knit whatever you fancy
* you don't have to wait to be invited
* you can be a beginner or a veteran
* new people are always welcome
As I read through the list above it made me yearn for a local group like that which could meet in a cafe like they have at Foyles. Personally I'd love a regular meet up in a relaxed cafe or tearoom environment where anyone can turn up, stay as long or as short as they like, never feel guilty if they miss a week or a month, and can sit and enjoy any handcraft they enjoy - knitting, crochet, embroidery, hand quilting...The freedom which Jane details in her writings about Foyles really resonates in my heart.
Do you frequent a group like the one at Foyles?
"There is something quite magical about sitting round a table with a group of chatty, engaging, sociable knitters who all seem to have an opinion on everything from cinema to opera, restaurants to cafes..." (page 215)
PASS IT ON
After her children remarked one morning that daddy was off to work and they were going to school, but Mummy would just be going to the supermarket, Jane was taken aback.
"Then I laughed and realised that it was up to me to demonstrate clearly to my offspring of both genders that there are many different ways to live your life, and that my chosen path (domesticity) was an alternative, but equally fulfilling, choice." (page 218)
"My children will not inherit titles, land, wealth or even a great wine cellar, but I do hope that they will inherit a few life-enhancing skills." (page 218)
THE QUILTING APPRENTICE (Tom)
Whenever Jane lays out blocks for a quilt it is son Tom who becomes the 'jigsaw master' and decides where each piece looks its best.
"He has developed great colour placement skills and can see patterns which are invisible to me until he points them out...In return for quilting advice we talk about rugby and BMX bikes, paper rounds and school. As we kneel on the carpet and move fabric like chess pieces, we share skills and snippets of each other's lives." (page 218)
KNITTING BEE (Phoebe)
Patiently waiting for any of her children to show a desire in knitting, Jane had to stifle whoops of joy when Phoebe decided she like to learn. After taking her daughter through the basics she bundled both of them up for a Parent & Child Knitting Weekend at the Rowan mill in Yorkshire.
"It was an amazing experience to sit for two days in a large room surrounded by young girls (and a couple of boys) and their mothers or helpers, and to see everyone knitting like pros. If anyone ever had doubts about the value of teaching children to knit, then they should see one of these workshops in full flow...Phoebe adored the whole experience and talked excitedly about her knitting non-stop for 190 miles of the 200 mile journey home. And then she fell asleep." (page 219)
ONE SMALL STITCH (Alice)
"If I had reminded Alice of the joys of knitting on a regular basis, I would have turned her off the idea. Instead I had to bide my time and hope that positive reinforcement worked. You can take a teenager to yarn but you can't make her cast on." (page 219)
Once started, Alice showed herself to be a very careful and deliberate knitter and soon Jane, Phoebe and Alice all attended the parent and child workshops at Rowan mill together.
"I have double the amount of joy in watching both my daughters work with yarn." (page 219)
"Unlike many knitters, I don't have a ball-winder or 'swift' to turn my loose skeins of yarn into neat, dumpy cylinders. But I do have a pair of hands and I enjoy the gentle, hypnotic motion of winding a ball of wool myself." (page 222)
Jane closes the chapter on Sharing with another art study, this time a painting by Harold Harvey, "Winding Wool" 1914...
"It is an unusual scene with the holder set above the winder (the winder normally the main subject in such paintings), the holder more dominant and in control. It's a beautiful snapshot of a moment in two girls' lives, perhaps a turning point when the older one is becoming secretive and the younger one still trusting and transparent." (page 222)
Shifting from art appreciation to poetry, Jane leaves us with this poem, "Winding Wool" by Robert Service (1874 - 1958)
She’d bring to me a skein of wool
Well, we're close to the end of our book now, just two chapters left. Have you enjoyed our roam through the pages and thoughts within The Gentle Art of Domesticity?
* This week I'd like you to share in the comments below how our study so far of Jane Brocket's book has enriched your own view of, and attitude towards, living a gentle domestic life.
Our next reading will begin the chapter on Nature and we're studying pages 224 -239. I'll have that blog post for you on Tuesday October 15th.
May your day be blessed, your smile brightened, your heart lightened, and God's peace be overflowing upon every moment.