Marjory Woodfield has recently returned to New Zealand after living in Saudi Arabia. Her work has been published by the BBC, Nowhere, Star 82, Flash Frontier and Raven Chronicles. She is a Bath Ad Hoc Fiction winner and was long listed for the Alpine Fellowship (Venice).
‘My writing inspiration often derives from my Middle East experiences. In this instance, it’s a small window into the life of expatriate women on a western compound in Riyadh.’
Knitting a Blanket for the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa
Squares in garter stitch. Double knitting wool. Bright colours. No 4 mm needles (UK no 8). The finished measurement should be 36 inches by 48 inches. As the blankets need to be washed frequently, we would like you to add, if possible please, a simple crocheted or a blanket stitch border around the finished edge, this will strengthen it considerably.
We visit the DMC shop on Olaya Street for wool and needles. Choose colours. Verses from the Qu’ran, soft in the background. On the way home, stop at Bateels for coffee and dates.
Brenda sits behind her desk in the library. She knits the Newfoundland Sea into each square. ‘Look,’ she says, ‘here’s a photo of our house, see the pool, won’t it be lovely for the grandchildren.’ But later they will fill in the pool. It’s too cold, too far away and the grandchildren don’t come. Shreeni, her maid, knits each evening in a small room. Rows of red and yellow. Marianne buys wool and needles but when she gets home her rabbit is missing. She searches between houses, “Chéri, chéri.”
On Wednesday we take wool and needles to Kasuko’s. Drink coffee and talk. Distant homelands. Naheeda is Chaldean. I find a map and point to Applecross, Rosshire, Scotland. From there to New Zealand. Kasuko asks me to cast off. Ourania has bright pink wool, but drops too many stitches. Debbie will finish hers in Russia. Later Janet takes the squares, arranges them in precise rows, colours matching. She sits in her gift shop each afternoon, crochets them together, checks the finished measurements.
We get out suitcases for Addis Ababa. My husband wonders how they will all fit. Amelia in London says use vacuum packs and gives me five. Before we leave, Kasuko visits with Ayoko and Meiko. They look at the finished blankets. Admire the colours, the neatly finished edges. Hold them up for a photo. At the Hamlin Fistula Hospital I take a photo of young women, wearing blankets from Saudi Arabia. Send it back to Kasuko.