"Encode, encoding" to me they have a meaning for then and now: the past, that world of cyphers and spying, the mysterious world of John Dee; it is also part of the present with its computer resonances. But the idea of using the word wasn't linked to either of these things, instead it occured when watching a short interview of an elderly couple on television. Though long retired he had been a fisherman and she throughout her life had knitted his ganseys, those densely patterned, navy or cream close fitted pullovers designed to fit snugly, to protect and keep the cold at bay.
|Herring Girls knitting, filling the time 'til the catch comes in.|
So where is the link between ganseys and encoding? Well, she explained how the many patterns knitted into these pullovers had names: Marriage Lines, Tree of Life, Fishnet. They were in fact a form of abstract art connected to families and to places. passed down the generations. It also occured to me that encoded in each gansey were similar messages to those I found in the envelopes arriving from my family, messages of an enduring connection that goes well beyond surface meaning.