“20 Days In 2020” – an update

wierd wood

It’s eleven weeks since I got back from my “20 days” painting retreat in Wales. What’s happened since getting back makes me yearn for those simpler days of just thinking about painting, dog walks and managing the weather.

Of course it’s been lovely getting back in touch with family and friends even in the socially distanced way we can now, but life is much more complicated and restricted. Emotions fluctuate between fear, guilt, frustration and relief and as the weeks roll by any novelty (however immature it was to feel it) has gone and left a level of tedium in its wake.

The jokes about our situation have been replaced with vitriol about the mishandling of the crisis, but the support we give each other now is much deeper and sensitive. Everyone’s experience is unique to them and complicated, but from this crisis so far has come some new richer friendships and valued new connections. I suppose my “20 Days” helped me understand that it’s all about doing what you have to do to get through and embracing the different emotions. It’s okay to be not okay all of the time – this will pass.

I’ve had a really heart warming response to my  “20 Days in 2020” journal, which along side painting sales has so far raised just under £400 profit which will go to Parkinson’s UK to fund research into the disease and hopefully help find a cure. Thanks to all who have supported this project so far. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want a copy of my journal and artwork can be viewed at https://paintingwithmrp.com/20-days-work-for-sale/

Thank you and stay safe xx

Draft Brochure

Knitting Together

This is a little tale of two parallel knitting journeys:

Freda 69 is an experienced knitter, using the practice to help her cope with the loss of her husband and distract her from her grief.
I’m 48 and a knitting novice using it to help cope with a restless mind and changes in dexterity as hands and movement deteriorate due to my recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

The knitting journey started with a chance conversation at the social dining club “Friday Club” with Freda about my husband’s love of Nordic style jumpers. Freda offered to knit the desired jumper and the discussion was quickly followed with trips to town together to find an appropriate pattern and wool. The wool sourcing missions also included cakes and coffee and a good chat about how we both were feeling.

Our second sourcing mission into “Knit” in Nottingham was successful, and after discussions with the wonderful Ellie. Freda signed up to a knitting challenge beyond what she’d expected – a really complex pattern. I then saw a lovely knitted hat in the shop window and Freda talked me into my own knitting challenge to learn to knit a relatively simple bobble hat.

Whilst Freda was creating, washing and checking her test piece in Beeston, Notts, I was away on a quiet break in Norfolk getting bitten by the knitting bug. After a couple of false starts I completed my first hat, and then after a mission to find a wool shop, I knitted a further two for Christmas presents.

Freda was mastering the complicated pattern and giving me regular updates about her progress. I was aware of the complexity of the pattern, and Freda was aware of the money I’d spent on the quality wool. There was trust and belief in each other and a real level of respect.

I never expected Freda to have completed the jumper in time for Christmas, but at a “Friday Club’ meeting in early December, Freda and good friend Peggy announced with glee that it was nearing completion. We talked arm and body lengths and made some calculated decisions about when to stop. They both came round for lunch the following week and Freda presented the finished jumper. It was truly amazing and the three of us stood and admired the creation.

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On Christmas day 2019 I gave my husband Simon the jumper and explained the story behind it. Of course I couldn’t do full justice to the adventure we’d been on to create this work of art, but it fits perfectly and he loves it.

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Once again I’ve been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness and generosity, gaining a friend and a jumper through this journey.
We’ve hopefully both benefitted from the healing properties of knitting and helped each other with our particular struggles with bereavement and acceptance. I’ve also been reminded that friendships, and creative challenges come in all shapes and jumper sizes. xx