It has been a while, – not for the first time, I know – but this time it is for a reason other than laziness or lack of time. Writing silly things on a blog about crafting has become a bit meaningless lately. Things have happened, rather close by and further away.
Almost a month ago, I switched on the computer and saw a post about a tower block in flames. It looked like one of the many tower blocks in the area where I used to live in London. So I clicked on it. Grenfell Tower. For a few years, I have passed there daily on my way to nursery. I am sure you have all seen the pictures so I do not need to explain. Whilst I didn’t consciously know anybody who had lived in the tower, I know a lot of people who live right at its foot.
As shocking as I found those pictures, imagining all the people who could not get out that night, I am even more shocked about the non existing response by the Council of one of the richest boroughs. The same people I had to face when we were fighting against the closure of our nursery a few years back. It was the volunteers of a very strong community, or different communities coming together, who did all the work.
I could be sure that whilst I did not consciously know anybody who has lost his life in the blaze, I would definitely know some faces. From nursery, from the playground, through friends.
A few days later I saw pictures of missing people. And there she was, the lovely lady who was in one of my first knitting classes. She and her whole family had lived on one of the top floors and they could not be saved.
As I do not know if her family wants her to be featured in my blog, lets just keep her name out of if. She was from Morocco and she knew already how to knit. Whilst I struggled with the task to teach this skill to people who had never even hold a knitting needle in their life, with linguistic and cultural barriers (not every one gets my sense of humour). She remained smiling and waited patiently for something more interesting than my attempts of teaching a simple knit stitch. And helped the others around her. And this is why I do not only remember her so vividly but also used her as an example in all my classes later. Because she knitted “the wrong way round”.
Before I had met her, I knew that there was English and Continental knitting. But that was it. But thanks to my own classes, I have met so many knitters from different corners of the world and have realised that there are as many ways of knitting as there are cultures. Approximately. And that there is not just one “right” way of doing it. But I have also realised quickly that mixing styles leads to trouble. If you do the knit stitch the Moroccan way (through the back loop, at least it seems to be the case after my extensive experience) you should do the purl the Moroccan way too, not my way. And this is why that lovely woman became so famous in all my classes. Even at a stage where I had to ban her from helping! Just by sitting next to her people started to change what I had just shown them! I always joked that she was messing up my classes and made her “sit by herself” and luckily she let me make these jokes. As I said, not everybody gets my sense of humour. Thanks to her we had quickly something to laugh and talk about, the atmosphere became relaxed and fun and on a bigger scale she remained for me the perfect symbol of knitting as something that brings us all together, onto the same level, no matter who we are and where we come from. In that sense, knitting is community and unity and I guess, this sense of community is what I am missing most from my previous life in London. I am optimistic that the community affected by Grenfell will be strong enough to finally overcome the pain but life in the area will certainly not be the same anymore. I just hope that finally all the families affected will get the support that they need.
So, whilst having her in my class was kind of a short encounter, it has become rather meaningful to me and it also reminds me that I had once set up the knitting classes and later chaotic group-rather-than-class in an attempt to bring people from different corners of society together. And it had worked well, hasn’t it. I hope I will be able to create a similar place here, too. I will help me feel at home.
RIP lovely lady and all victims of the Grenfell tower blaze.