jacket being worn by a shopper in the supermarket yesterday. It was obviously hand made but not the sort of hand made which looks home made. (Knitters will understand this perfectly. The rest of you must just imagine.)
It was made from many different colours, yarns and textures brought together with a charcoal grey. The sleeves were exactly the right length. The mandarin collar sat perfectly. There were pockets.
I admired it first from afar, not even realising it was a handknit. It disappeared from view.
A crowded supermarket is not the best place to observe such things or prowl after them for a better look so I went on filling the trolley with the heavy shopping I do once a month. I turned into the aisle that has biscuits, tea, coffee, sugar and related items. There was the jacket again. The wearer was frowning at a label on a tin. I edged closer. Could I get a better look?
As I did so the wearer put the tin of cocoa back on the shelf and turned her trolley around. Our trolleys banged together.
"Sorry," she muttered in the sort of way that you do to be socially polite but when you actually feel irritated. She really did not look in the least bit happy.
"I was admiring your jacket," I told her.
She looked startled.
"Did you make it?"
"You really like it?" she asked. She seemed almost bewildered. Her eyes filled with tears, "My husband hates it. I made it from all the left overs and he says it looks as if I can't afford to buy clothes. I can only wear it when he's away. I even thought I should just give it away."
I really liked it. I was looking at a work of art, several hundred dollars worth of art.
We were blocking the aisle but I wanted a better look, I really wanted a better look.
"Yes, I really like it. I would really like to have a closer look at it."
We moved our trolleys. She undid the jacket so I could see how she had lined it (a remnant of fabric from her quilting shop) and how she had put in darts to accommodate her very ample figure.
Someone else I know stopped to look. She also knits and was equally appreciative. Two quilters stopped to admire it as well. One of them said, "Tell your husband it is a patchwork quilt! It's marvellous."
At last we all had to move on but, as we left, she was smiling.