I’m knitting a vibrant stripy blanket. It’s a blanket because I’m a rubbish knitter, and it’s stripy because being a rubbish knitter I can only make it interesting in the most simple way possible. It’s vibrant, because the knitting pattern says it is, although I’ve long since gone feral on the order of colours the pattern sets out. So far it’s about ten inches long. It has three little holes where there shouldn’t be holes, and a couple of places where stitches have been retrieved the wrong way round so the pattern (a most basic garter stitch) goes off in the middle of a row or two. This doesn’t matter, I decided, because if I wanted the soon to be born grandson to have a perfect baby blanket, I could have bought one for half the price of the wool and needles, and spent a fraction of the time achieving it. At least in part, this is me taking up my proper place in the proper way, as a sign of my consent to my new role.
But knitting is heavenly. I’ve done no writing over Christmas. You can’t knit and write, but I’ve knitted and watched TV programmes that barely need an occasional raised eye to be kept on them, I’ve listened to all the late Beethoven quartets, the last four Schubert quartets and Tom Waits’s Alice. I’ve listened to a podcast of three chapters of Beyond Good and Evil, and agreed with every word Nietzsche has to say. And I’ve got a blister on my index finger.
Naturally, I’m tweeting my progress, with photos and the occasional Twitter stripe choice of colour. There have been some tweets (all by men) expressing anxiety and fear I may be disappearing into soft, girly domesticity, and I did begin the conversation with a defensive tweet saying ‘this is the most normal I’ve been since . . . this is the most normal I’ve been.’ But in a world where women can’t become C of E bishops, are obliged to wear veils, and are still only to be seen in token numbers in TV games shows and the British cabinet, and where the @everydaysexism Twitter account makes me weep at the evident contempt for women that men still casually and regularly display, it’s clear that what women chose to do or not do isn’t the problem. I’m thinking I can write and continue as a tricoteuse, knitting fury into every stitch, and faintly hope that the soon to be grandson will be part of a generation that does it better.