Seventeen years ago today, I started work at a public service department in Canberra. I'd moved from Townsville a week before, living at Gowrie Hostel and being, well, shit-scared. I was alone, thousands of kilometres from my family and my boyfriend, and here I was in a strange city meeting strange people and about to start work in a very strange government department.
And yet I was excited. Canberra was going to give me the freedom to live my life, meet new people, experience new things and think new thoughts which just weren't possible in a North Queensland town.
It certainly lived up to my expectations. Within a week, two other Gowrie tenants and I had moved into a little courtyard house in Kaleen. Other friends from Gowrie moved across the oval, some into the next suburb. When we went out as friends, all twenty of us went together. Dinner parties were only possible if everyone brought a plate and a chair. It was a great time.
1991 was the year I started on my Great Crochet Project. Surrounded as I was by friends and housemates, I think I was actually really lonely. So I decided to make a rug of granny squares. I went to Grace Bros in Belconnen, back when they sold yarn, and bought a lot of Cleackheaton Country in green, blue and burgundy. Then I crocheted a square. Then another.
My friend Naf was my resident nagger. Everytime we saw each other, usually daily, he'ds ask how the rug was going. He managed to guilt me into finishing it, which I think I did by that first Canberra spring in 1991.
By the time I was stitching the rug up, it was so heavy I could barely lift it. It was so heavy the yarn would pull itself out of the square and I'd have to remove a square and remake it. There was no blocking, no thought of how a heavy, holey granny square rug would keep me warm, but I made it and I was proud of that rug. I couldn't put it on my bed without it suffocating me, but it was done and I felt warm having made it.
Years later it was wallowing in the bottom of a cupboard, still unusable as time had not made it any lighter or warmer. By then mum had made me a lighter ripple rug and that was getting plenty of use. Mr QM convinced me that I should send the rug to the salvos where someone could make better use of it. So I donated it. I no longer loved it. The reasons for making it had been forgotten.
I still think of that rug, of making those squares sitting on the floor watching Twin Peaks and Friday Night Football with my housemates seventeen years ago. Of Naf asking me almost daily how the rug was going. Of sketching out the layout of those squares using highlighter pens during work time. Those are the memories I will keep with me forever. I don't need the rug to remind me of them.