One month of knitting, writing, remembering and the colour blue.
It is the 30th April – It has been one week and one day, since the sudden death of a great Shetland friend and two weeks since I received a message from her telling me that she had just received results from a CT scan and ultimately, her diagnosis. The above post on Instagram by her daughter, Susan.
Fiona was kind, loving, supportive, honest and intuitive as well as being creative. She reached out to me when I was living in Shetland and offered me the hand of friendship and the loyal ear of a friend.
Just before I left Shetland, we arranged to meet on Bressay, where she lived. I caught the seven minute inter island ferry from Lerwick to Bressay and she met me off the boat. We did beautiful ordinary things – we went to the Speldiburn café for a cuppa and a look at her many weaving, knitting and sewing projects on view there, particularly the lace. She bought cake for Peter and us. With her, I found a safe harbour in which to share my thoughts about leaving the island. To be able to share thoughts in words with others whilst living on the island, was rare for me. A couple of people were the only ones I could share in what I was feeling at the end of my stay in Levenwick. Fiona already understood without me saying anything.
After I left Shetland, to return to the city, we kept in touch and she supported me in every way, checking in on me and joining my online workshops and follow up re group sessions. We both supported charities with our ability to sell creativity – and even at the end of February, we both sent £625 each to the British Red Cross to support the earth quake disaster in Turkey / Syrian border. I sold knitting patterns and Fiona wove cloth in the colours of both countries and made the fabric into little cosmetic purses. In February, she seemed well and active. So, it was a great shock to me that Fiona messaged me on Sunday 16th April with the saddest and bravest message I have ever read in my life. I couldn’t understand the message – read it three times then asked my friend to explain it to me. It highlighted her scan results and that she wasn’t angry or frustrated. That she had lived a beautiful life with love around her in a beautiful home. I messaged her back to ask if I could call, but Fiona had family staying and was understandably tired, so we arranged a call on the Thursday, only four days later. I sent her a little gift. But things changed, by Wednesday, Fiona was in Lerwick Gilbert Bain, hospital in and out of consciousness, so I couldn’t call on Thursday and by Friday, she had stopped eating and drinking and on Saturday morning, 22nd April, 6 days after her message to me, Fiona died. Understandably, her partner and daughter were devastated by this shocking loss; they had not left her side for a week.
I was also devestated at this cruel turn.
The decline was so fast straight after a shocking out of the blue diagnosis that I was left sifting through a thousand thoughts on loss and waste and why and how? I could hardly breathe and felt winded, almost punched by extreme sadness. The strength of my feelings, I now understand coming from experiencing the kindness of a woman who cared about everyone, her family, community and even me and now she was gone. Gone. She was one of life’s unconditional givers, she was positive, engaged and engaging, creative, loving and enjoyed her life. She was too young to die – yet, in her message to me, she said that she wasn’t angry or frustrated by the CT scan findings. But I was.
I now realise that the message she sent me on 16th April, was a goodbye.
After Susan (Fiona’s daughter) messaged on the Saturday, to say that she had died, I drove the car from the city to Bretton, to a little pub called the Barrel Inn overlooking the valley and there, the hang gliders were swooping low and rising high in the thermals. It was cold and windy – just like Shetland, and there, sitting on a bench, periodically crying, below the gliders, I truly felt the presence of Fiona rising in the winds, swirling, swooping free. She was in the wind, then, she was the wind.
Fiona had the bluest of eyes. So blue.
I haven’t knitted anything new for some time, haven’t felt like it or had the need to but I felt compelled to try to make some attempt to capture the pure blue eyes and the joy of Fiona. I am adapting a previous pattern of mine – Smola beanie, scarf and gloves – from when I lived in Shetland. I was going to knit socks but thought they would be too chunky in shoes or boots so I adapted the pattern into little mitts. The pattern has developed into symmetry.
There have been days, before and since her death, when I have heard Fiona’s words, gently correcting any negative bias I have into positive thoughts. She had a knack for doing that, like, ending some of my sentences with – Not Yet.
Here, is to a wonderful woman – Fiona – sadly and greatly missed 1,000 miles away. Just thank you for being kind. I think I will find you in the winds.
8th May – The little pattern that I have knitted is here. It took many hours to design, write, balance, make symetrical for two hands, and knit to as good as I can make them for Fiona. A wonderful test knitter (Karensprenger on instagram has test knitted these mitts, Karen is from Sheffield and both she and Erickaeckles on instagram have gone over the text and charts of the pattern for me – both of whom have taken my online colour blending workshops and both chose their own colours for this pattern and I will share them on Instagram.
Friday 19th May – I have finally finished writing, photographing and knitting the little Mitts in honour of Fiona. Here they are with the blue glass star that Fiona gave me as a leaving Shetland present. Here is the pattern
In total, I knitted 3 mitts. The first one, needed alterations on the thumb placement and cast off. Then I made a new left mitt and then a new right one. The last one is the neatest.
The pattern includes photo tutorials on how to make the little thumb and here is a quick clip of those stages.
I have decided that after paypal have taken their cut and after Ravelry have charged me for each sale – I will donate 50% of the income money that this little pattern makes (about £1.50 per pattern) over the next month over May and June to Macmillan Cancer support.
Macmillan Cancer Support | The UK’s leading cancer care charity
I called the pattern, Fiona Blue, and it is here https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fiona-blue