Sunday, 30 January 2011

faith healer

We went to see Faith Healer by Brian Friel at the Bristol Old Vic last night. It’s a powerful piece with several themes: love and friendship, loyalty, what it is to be an artist and, of course, faith. I was struck during the play by the assertion of the character Francis Hardy (the healer in question) that most of the sick people who came to his “performances” were not there in faith; they hadn’t come to be healed. In fact they were there for a sort of despairing last resort – to have their incurability confirmed so that they could finally give up all hope. This idea is picked up in Joe Spence’s programme notes where he says:

“Throughout Faith Healer we are drawn back to the question of what it is to lose faith. It is suggested that people come to the faith healer not for healing through faith, nor even for the prolongation of hope, but for their elimination. The paradox of the human condition is that it is easier to live without faith or hope than to be eternally faithful or hopeful, and therefore always open to betrayal.”

This resonated strongly with me and could be interpreted rather depressingly. For me, however, it seemed somehow positive. It’s an acknowledgement that faith and hope are difficult choices, involving hard work and constant reassessment and recommitment, but nevertheless worth the effort.

As so often happens, these musings were picked up in another context. This Sunday in the church calendar is Candlemas, otherwise known as the Feast of the presentation of Christ in the Temple. Luke’s gospel tells the story of Joseph and Mary taking their young child to be presented at the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. In Jerusalem an old man called Simeon had been waiting many years for the coming of the Messiah. He had received a promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. Finally the long years of faith, hope, prayer and devotion were rewarded by the revelation that this child was indeed the long-awaited Christ. The sermon reminded us what an amazing work of faith Simeon performed in holding on for so many years to a promise that he might have dismissed as imagination or wishful thinking.

I’m a very long way from having that sort of faith, but I do nevertheless take comfort from Simeon’s prayer of praise:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Saturday, 1 January 2011

made in bristol

I didn't blog much of my knitting and stitching in2010 and have been reviewing everything I have made over the course of the year. This post has taken me a couple of weeks to write, partly because it's quite long with a lot of pictures, but also because it seems rather boring. By comparison with many of the bloggers I read, I have made very little. However, since the intention of this blog is for my own "makerly" encouragement, I have decided to stick with it - post and bore the pants off them! (Having posted this blog I find that it's dated 1 January, which was when I started it. It was actually finished and posted on 16 January 2011.)

The year started with two projects that should have been made in time for Christmas 2009, but didn't quite meet their deadline.

First Hannah's cowl neck sweater, which doesn't photograph well, but I know has been much worn over the course of the year. The reason it took so long to knit is that it's a strange honeycomb rib made by purling one and then knitting the stitch below. This makes for a lovely cushiony fabric, but takes forever to grow.

Then the lovely Elijah (blogged here) for Rosa.

For Ruth's birthday in March I used some lovely fabric from Fabric Rehab to make an "art-to-go" travelling sketchbook and pencils set. (Previously blogged here).

Later in March after my own birthday I made three quick crochet flower brooches for my lovely daughters who had worked so hard to give me a wonderful party. I didn't photograph them, but they were similar to these, with the addition of pretty buttons bought at the Tobacco Factory Market. These crochet flowers came later in the year when Malago WI had a "learn to crochet" evening and I made up a few samples to show what might be achieved.
I made myself some cosy socks in a soft ethical yarn I had bought in St Ives on our holiday in 2009. I loved them and then felted them beyond use in a 40 degree wash (boo)

For the Southbank Arts Trail last May I made a few felt tea cosies and some coffee pot cosies.

June saw the long awaited completion of my Cortona quilt. (Previously blogged and photographed) and I made little cardigans for the family's newest baby and her older cousin. I've managed somehow not to photograph them.

After that my woodland scarf came off the back burner and was finished in time for scarf weather. This was followed by the alpaca scarf that I started making at the beginning of 2009. Once finished it was admired consistently by daughter no. 2, so I have given it to her - though it is modelled here by her husband F.

I very nearly missed the Christmas deadline again with my final knit of the year. This time it was Ruth's turn for some complicated hand-knitting and I finished the Fiore di Notte armwarmers on Christmas Eve! (This terrible photograph was taken in a great rush on my own arm, before hastily wrapping)

My sewing machine had some serious problems this year and I finally took it to be expensively mended in November. Despite this it managed a few bits and pieces (and I also borrowed R's machine.) The giraffe bag made for D's October birthday

was closely followed by a lion bag for his brother M.
I'm hoping that now it's mended, with a needle that drops correctly onto the fabric below, I will make slightly quicker progress on the quilt I have started to make from fabric I bought when we were in St Ives in 2009. The fabric from a stylish retro shop was designated "vintage", but I balk at describing sheeting I can remember from my teens and twenties as vintage, so I'm trying to think of it as simply recycled!