Jess, Scotland


(Note: I put a call out on Twitter for people’s stories of textiles and resilience. I received replies and photos in DMs and in emails. The following is what Jess kindly sent via a series of direct messages. Thanks, Jess!) 

There’s a few things I could say on this topic. But I’m choosing to tell the story of Gromit.

In March 2019, I got a copy of “Knit Now” magazine which had a Gromit kit & pattern. By then, I had ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for 5 years & was housebound for 3-1/2 years. I started knitting in 2013 and loved it, spending hours each day after work, with my needles. When I got ME, this was not possible anymore. Like many with this illness, I pushed to try & get better, which made me worse. I lost a lot but I’m gonna focus on the topic. As I got worse, I struggled with holding a pen, typing, so of course, knitting too.

The longest I’ve gone without knitting was 9 months. I got so sad then I had to hide all my knitting stuff as seeing it was a reminder of not being able to do what I love. I knew though that I would come back to it, try again. I did, and since then, my knitting is sporadic. There are still periods when I can’t knit for months (I’m at 2 months now). Anyway, Gromit came as a kit in March 2019. I decided that he would be my priority project, that he would be finished. It took 4 months to get him done (it’s supposed to be a quick knit Face with tears of joy).

At first, I could cast on the toes on one of his legs. Then I managed to knit a few rows. I was really happy to see him coming through! I was so determined that I would knit! So determined that I would finish him, no matter how long. It didn’t mean I could work on it everyday. I had to have breaks (sometimes a couple weeks) as ME doesn’t care what I want. But I started Gromit and I even managed some of his parts in 2 days each (I was in a decent knitting roll!).

He’s now sitting on display & when I look at him, I’m reminded not to give up on knitting, on being myself. I have a dream to become a knitting designer. It’s in motion. I’m slowly brewing my first design (I managed 2 full swatches this year so far, I’m in the 3rd). Your call for stories comes at a time when I feel quite low about my (current) inability to knit. So telling you this story reminds me I will not give up, not on knitting.

ME can take many more things from me, I can’t take anything for granted. But until I have no other choice, I’ll keep getting back to my needles. And I pray I will always be able to get back to them, even for a few stitches. Thank you for asking, for listening. Keep making. Be well.