Uncle’s loom

I came across part of a story, or maybe just a short story I had written and for a while I couldn’t think when or why I had written it… I thought maybe it had been on a writing course I had attended, but then I remembered it was a visit to a writing collective last year when we had been given a workshop. We had wandered round a nearby gallery and craft-shop and been told to find three items which appealed… I can’t remember what two of the items were but the third was a lovely hand-knitted white hat with random gold and bilberry stripes.

Here’s what I wrote, unedited:

As Ghillian opened the door to the wool shop there was an unexpected sound of a frog. Startled she looked round then down and by the wall was a large plastic frog and as she closed the door it croaked again. It made her smile.
“It’s better than a door chime or a buzzer!” a woman had emerged from a door and was standing behind the counter, smiling at her.
Ghillian agreed it was.
“I want some wool to knit a hat,” she told the woman, possible Faye since the shop was ‘Faye’s Knits.
“What had you in mind?
Ghillian explained that she had seen a collection of hand-knitted  hats in a gallery. They had been rather expensive and she’d learned her lesson on spontaneous purchasing a long time ago. However, having decided to buy one – the white one with the bilberry stripes and gold thread, she returned to the shop to find it closed for the holidays.
She decided she would try and knit her own hat. She wanted to do it for her uncle…
She wished she could have kept his loom and woven something magical for him. But she couldn’t… Maybe if she had met him sooner and he had taught her how…
Maybe if she had been able to keep his loom and learn…
What she could do was knit something. Unexpectedly she found herself telling the woman behind the counter.
“I’m sorry to hear that your uncle died… sorry you couldn’t have kept the loom,” She spoke heart-felt. “My mother died not long ago. She was an artist… I burned every painting I could find, her frames.. I burnt everything – not very eco-friendly, I have to say, but I burned the lot!”
This was so unexpected and vehement that Ghillian was shocked.
“I’, sorry…” was all she could think to say.
“I’m not… now, wool… what sort of colour were you thinking of to make your uncle’s hat?”

***

She had tried to sell the loom, she had tried to sell her uncle’s loom. She’d tried to sell it in different places and bit her tongue on the disrespectful prospective buyers displayed, disrespect to the loom which was old and ‘no-one uses anything like this these days…’
She’s advertised it in Weavers’ World and The Spinning Times it was eventually it was a free-to-take-away Facebook site and she wept as two men who patently had no interest in weaving threw it on the back of their flatbed, and she wept as she closed and locked her uncle’s door for the last time.

***

Having gathered the wool from the brambles and briars,
From the barbed wire fence,
Ghillian Flox cleaned and carded
and spun and threaded
and wove her hats and scarves

She’d learned in her uncle’s painting room
the colours of the sunset and sunrise
in his lighthouse studio looking west and east
South and north.
And so she made her bilberry hats
thread gold and snug.

© Lois Elsden 2019

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