Friday, February 11, 2011

I didn’t mean that I thought talking about funerals in advance was a bad idea – I think it’s great, and much easier on all of us, the sufferer and those who love her, that we can talk about all aspects of death instead of having to pussy-foot around the subject and pretend on both sides that she’s getting better.

But having once arranged every detail of the funeral, I think it’s then time to move on. C. had made a will and given her two daughters an enduring power of attorney before all this happened. I am sure, if necessary, that she has since improved any arrangements that needed improvement. But she wouldn’t dream of talking about such things to us – or to anyone else except her daughters and, as necessary, her lawyer. I think it would be better for her, as well as kinder to us, to put the funeral under the same sort of embargo.

Of course the subject of death will come up. She lives with it daily, and must think of little else. But still wiser not to dwell on detail.

I want as many as possible at my funeral to wear something I knit for them. They all know this (and I am sure will turn themselves out appropriately) and often refer to it with hilarity to a point where I wish they would talk about something else.


VKB No. 16 sold for £13.49 on eBay yesterday. Spring, 1940. The very first one of all went for an equally risible price a few days ago. Towards the end of last year, one of the pre-war ones fetched over £200. I can only conclude that the bottom has suddenly fallen out of the market.

And speaking of VK, the Winter 2010/2011 issue came through my letterbox yesterday. An odd moment, I thought, with Groundhog Day behind us and the snowdrops up and the spring sunshine through the windows – yesterday was a particularly beautiful day here – showing up the winter film of dust. One would have needed to have it at least three months ago if one was to knit anything in time for winter. “With knits this snug and sublime, there’s no need to hibernate. Get outside and enjoy the big chill.”

But that is to carp. There’ll probably be another winter. The designs are good – VK is now way out there ahead of everyone else, just as they used to be 40 years ago. I like a lot of things – the scarf at No. 3; Mari Lynn Patrick’s great big cardigan, no. 14; and especially Tom Scott’s little cardigan, no. 25. And there’s lots else of interest.

I was very grateful to yesterday’s commenters, especially Ron, on the subject of a shawl for our niece. I will take you up on it, and knit a proper shawl. I love Jared, as we all do, so I went to have a look at the Bridgewater, but I think there’s too much st st there for me, however good the result. I’ll get Sharon’s Love Derg book out today and have another look there.

What about the pi shawl? I have always meant to get to grips mentally with EZ’s remarks about the formula “circumference=twice pi times radius” and its effect on a growing shawl. (It would take me all morning to get that into mathematical notation.) If I knit one, I would have plenty of time to think about it.

I got on nicely with the stripey RtB sleeve last night, and am now within about 10 rounds of the end. So I should reach the gusset today.


  1. Pi Shawls are so easy! I do not find you need to think about how it works, it just works. You can use EZ basic instructions from the July chapter in Almanac, add in her patterns or develop your own. Basically it is a 12 stitch pattern that fits the formula. Perhaps EZ remembered her 12 times table (and English pre decimal coins )when designing it! I really enjoy knitting them and always have one for my travel knitting. The formula seems to work with any yarn as long as you match up the needle size, I just prefer to knit mine with a needle 1 or 2 sizes larger than you would for normal stocking stitch tension and so far they always work. I have lots on display on Ravelry -Judithknits-where there are masses of others to see and admire.

  2. When a close friend of mine died she had her funeral alrranged in advance. She had knitted hundreds of socks (including kilt hose from the pattern you once sent me). Everyone who was wearing her socks took their shoes off at the door as a mark of respect - and the three men of religion officiating conducted the service in their socks. It was just the sort of thing she would have found highly amusing. Good on you for saying "wear what I made"!

  3. My grandmother planned her funeral down to the last detail when she was healthy. She paid for it (all of it down to the musicians and food) and even picked out the songs. At her graveside when the priest was done with the last formalities the mariachis struck up their songs.... and it was party music, from the North of Mexico where she was born. She had ordered that it be so. I remember the sound of dance music filling the cemetary with shouts of "Viva Chihuahua, Viva Mexico, Viva Celia!" (long live Chihuahua- her hometown--love live Mexico, long live my grandmother) from the singers and the accordion, and guitars merrily blazing away. I remember looking at my dad and he said (with a chuckle) "Just like my mother." And the music made me smile..

    My grandmother was almost 90 when died, she had lived a hard but exciting life (as a revolutionary, and a bootleg runner among other things.) And the party music suited her. It made everyone smile and clap, and it was appropriate for someone who had lived such a long and full life.

    So with that said, I understand your concern about C planning the funeral. I think these things are best done well ahead of time, when one doesn't lapse into depression--and when one can marshal their sense of humor.

    And I say, make a pie shawl!! And Judith does make the most gorgeous stuff. I have a swallowtale shawl she gave me as a birthday gift a few years ago. It always get compliments.

  4. I'm glad you at least considered the book (What Would Madame Defarge Knit?). There is a nice shawl in there but am not sure what your requirements are for your niece. I am sorry for your sister-in-law's illness. We went through something very similar with my mother-in-law and it was very difficult.

  5. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I have to gently differ with you about "moving on". I can imagine that it is much easier to think about the funeral than about what must necessarily come before: continuing decline, loss of dignity, increased pain, loss of control, loss of so many earthly delights.

    It is easy for us to move on, because we have something interesting or at least not terrifying to move on to. Knitting, cooking, eating, even just going to the optician - these mundane occupations will fill our days. But for C., and others in her position, her funeral might be the least difficult part of the rest of her time on earth, because by then all the horrible parts will be over.

    I know it is distressing for you and your dear husband but I think it might be very comforting to C to imagine the time when her pain is finished and everyone is saying nice things about her.

    I love the idea of people wearing things I knit for them at my funeral, though I think it had better be in the winter, as it is too hot and humid to wear most knitwear in the summer. And I think I had better get busy knitting for others - most of my hand knitwear is in my own dresser!


  6. In the documentary 'Constantin and Elena'
    by Andrei Dascalescu ( 2008) about his old grandparents in Romania, Elena is counting the woven wallhangings and rugs she has made, and are all over the house, and concludes that the 49 or so available are not enough to give away at her funeral. So she sets up her loom and makes more colourful flowery rugs.

  7. Anonymous8:29 PM

    Pi shawls are wonderfully freeing. I can just concentrate on what lace patterns to use and work away. No fussing with planned increases or anything like that. I often recommend one to a timid knitter as their first lacework project for those very reasons. Plus, once you memorise the formula, you can just start one at a moment's notice. I hope you enjoy whichever pattern you go with. Best regards and best wishes for the sister-in-law. -- Joe-in Wyoming