|Beverley wearing one of her knitted sweaters |
while clinging to a large globe in Nuuk, Greenland
“The rhythm of life is a powerful thing….” Just recently I was transported back to my old school drama days by the lyrics of this old song I heard on the radio as I was driving to teach a writing class in the centre of Melbourne.
Though I couldn’t remember how it continued, I definitely remembered the way the words and music fired me up when I was a15-year-old drama student.
The rhythm of life really is a very powerful thing and of course there are so many more ways it can inspire us than through music.
Such as knitting.
When I am overburdened, I find the soothing rhythm of Continental knitting, which my Norwegian mother-in-law, Elsa, taught me, calms my mind.
I was twenty-nine and a disinterested knitter who’d learned the “English” method when I arrived in Norway for the first time, having met my husband-to-be, Eivind, a few months previously when I was running a safari lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. He was a bush pilot whose job was to fly tourists around the many safari lodges dotted around the area that were only accessible by small plane during the tourist season when the floods arrived, attracting the game.
|My current project, a kofte I'm knitting for my ten-year-old|
(based on a traditional Norwegian sweater.)
After a whirlwind long-distance romance I went to live with Eivind in his thatched cottage by a flood plain before Eivind was offered an airborne geophysical survey job in Namibia. Having spent five years in Botswana he accepted as he was ready for a change, so a couple of weeks holidaying with his parents in Norway while we waited for our one-year survey flying contract to begin in Namibia seemed like fun.
Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned and as the weeks stretched into months of delay I found the frustration of waiting was eased by my mother-in-law’s endless patience in teaching me to learn to knit and how to speak Norwegian. The calm, repetitive method of working two colours per line to create the seemingly complicated patterns of the Norwegian sweaters I started making was really soothing as we became increasingly worried by the fact that months of no earnings had depleted our savings, forcing us to cancel our wedding in Australia.
Thankfully just before Christmas at the end of ten months of waiting our contract eventuated and after marrying on very short notice in the beautiful Akershus Festning, the chapel at Oslo castle, Eivind and I flew to Windhoek, Namibia, to spend the next year of our lives.
|My "office," a Cessna 404|
I was known as the ‘knitting operator’ due to the many fairisle sweaters I created in between working the computer in the back of the low flying aircraft; for after setting up the coordinates for the pilot to fly each line, I could knit while monitoring the survey data during long straight lines of more than 100km. It was a wonderful opportunity to knit – and to plot.
The twenty years since my marriage have been filled with change and new challenges as we’ve worked in aviation in more than a dozen countries.
While it can take time to make friends in new places, writing and knitting are always at hand to satisfy my need for company and to keep my mind occupied.
Perhaps I’ve been overstimulated by so much moving about the world, but I find I’m happiest when I’m writing in two or three genres at a time, and working on at least two knitting projects.
At the moment my hot Regency romance, Cressida’s Dilemma has just been published under my Beverley Oakley name, while the next is a Georgian-set ‘dangerous liaisons-esque intrigue called Wicked Wager under my Beverley Eikli name. It’s about to be released by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing while my 1960’s set illegal diamond-buying romance with lots of suspense set in the mountainous African kingdom of Lesotho, where I was born, is about to make its way into the hands of my editor.
Mixing up the genres might not be a sensible strategy in that it no doubt dilutes my readership but it’s wonderful to have three different types of story to throw myself into, depending on my mood at the time.
Just as it is to be able to knit a calming, repetitive pattern when I’m in a meditative mood and wanting to pot-boil my story, or whip out the double pointed needles for a challenging pair of reindeer-emblazoned socks, it’s great to have the first draft of a roller-coaster thrilling ending to throw myself into if I’m feeling edgier with my writing, or to make the most of the quiet when the children are asleep to do some serious editing.
The rhythm of such things really is a powerful thing and, as the words of the song go on, “puts a tingle in your fingers….” Unfortunately, I’m unable to Google the rest of the lyrics as I’m at the family cabin in South Australia’s beautiful Clare Valley with no wifi but I’m with my Norwegian sisters-in-law and you can guess what our chief occupation is: knitting, chatting and drinking coffee which Norwegians love to do.
And every time there’s a lull in the conversation my mind darts off to poor Cressida in Cressida’s Dilemma who is going to unusual lengths to discover if the rumours are true that her husband is having an affair; or to Celeste who has just discovered that her virtue is at the heart of a Wicked Wager; or to Phillipa in 1960s Lesotho who has discovered she really is in love with the bush pilot she rejected but who has now gone off to marry someone else.
What fires you up with the rhythm of life or soothes you when you need it?