Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Helen Samuels


“Grandma, what are you knitting?”

“I’m knitting the Nine O’Clock News.”

“But – how . . . what do you mean?”

But looking more closely he could see that it was true. There was the financial crisis in the Eurozone, there was the uprising in Syria and in a turbulent passage draped over her knees, the latest hurricane to hit the East Coast of America.
“Are you following one of the patterns from your magazine?” She gave him a look.
“So, are you just making it up?” He sat down and listened as she explained how she had confused her wiring earlier, plugging the television into the computer and somehow hooking up the printer just as the clock struck nine. She handed him the resulting printout – a dense code made up of thousands of figure 9s in irregular clumps across the page.
* * *
“Grandma, what are you knitting today?” Today she was using six needles.
“You’re knitting satin?”
“No, the planet Saturn. It’s a gas giant.” There was, in fact, an immense volume of wool surrounding his grandmother’s armchair.
“But . . . won’t that take forever?”
“Well, it is quite a big project but I’ll do it in six sections and then stitch them together.”
“That’s amazingly ambitious, grandma. What about Jupiter?”
“No. Saturn’s my favourite planet. I’d have to learn a new stitch for Jupiter.”
“I wouldn’t have thought that was beyond you.”
“At my age you know your limitations.”
* * *
“Grandma, what are you knitting now?”
“Post-War Berlin.”
“Are you serious?”
“Ssh. This is a tricky bit. It’s the transition from the American occupied zone to the Soviet side.” He could hear sounds of unrest coming from the contested knitted city as he reached for a biscuit.
“Have you done the wall yet?”
“No, it didn’t go up until 1961. What do they teach in schools these days?” Angling his head, he could see the Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden – and was that the devastated Potsdamer Platz?
“Grandma, this isn’t just made up out of bits of old films, is it?”
“Certainly not. I’ve gone to primary sources for a lot of the design. Of course, there is such a thing as collective memory . . . oh, there, I’ve dropped a stitch on a watch tower. Now dear, have you thought about what you want for your birthday? You liked that cashmere pullover last year. I was thinking of another one of those but in a different colour scheme. I’ve got some beautiful turquoise.”
“Yes, that would be lovely, grandma. I did like the pullover very much . . .”
“Well, I was just thinking of all the incredible knitting you’ve done lately and, well, I just thought – it wouldn’t be for me, specifically, of course, but – would you consider knitting something that might somehow improve the lot of humanity? Like a solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict . . . for instance?” His grandma adjusted her glasses and took a sip of tea.
“For your birthday?”
“No, grandma. I doubt if there’s time before the 31st. For the world at large. Obviously I wouldn’t expect you to manage the pullover as well.”
* * *
It was the morning of the 31st and the house was strangely silent. The kettle hadn’t yet been boiled and the curtains were still drawn. As he pulled them, he saw a card and a small package on the coffee table. He opened the card and read the message, ‘Gone to Gaza. Back next Thursday, all being well. Happy Birthday Dear’.
Inside the package was a cashmere pullover in shades of orange and rust with veins of rich turquoise running through.



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