yarn

Yarning

img_1791I have a thing for fiber–and not the type that comes in salads. I love the type of fiber that grows on bunnies and sheep, alpacas and camels. The type that you wrap hands, neck, and ears in when it’s cold.

The longer I live in New England (going on two years now!), the more I find about New England to love. Like the fiber arts culture. Every respectable town, village, or suburb around here has a well-stocked yarn store–or so it seems. The Mecca of all yarn shops, Webs, is just forty-five minutes north of my home, and I make frequent pilgrimages in that direction.

Last weekend, the New England Fiber Festival drew me, though. Because I love all things soft and fuzzy, it’s more than worth the $7 admission fee and $5 parking just to pet the angora rabbits, to respectfully not pet the clearly somewhat miffed alpacas, and to feast your eyes on thousands upon thousands of skeins of handdyed, handspun loveliness.

You can’t leave without buying something. Last year, the twins were just over a month old when we went to the fiber festival for the first time, and they were wearing tiny little handknit sweaters (which received comments from practically everyone we passed). This year, the twins weren’t wearing handknits and neither was I, but one kind woman gave Micah a handknit hat for free (!), and I bought an incredibly smooshy skein of fingering-weight yarn that will make the perfect sweater to echo the blue in Davey’s eyes.

Manny and I have been talking about purchasing an angora bunny for a little over a year, so we took the opportunity to talk to the exhibitors with angoras and to find out more about their care. The whole experience has made me determined to find a hutch, create a cozy nest, and adopt an angora or two of my own. So don’t be surprised if, in one of the next posts here, you get to meet an extra fuzzy addition to the Jacoby household.

 

Making things–with a nod to the past and the future

Small ShoesSometimes I write compulsively. Writing is my job, but I rarely feel compelled to write about car insurance or the rising trends in online education, which is the type of stuff I get paid for. When I write compulsively, I get out my trusty old spiralbound notebook (anything fancier would set the standard too high) and document things–anything that’ll help me remember, later on, the rapidly-changing life that I lived.

Now, for instance, I can look back over some of those spiralbound journal-y things and get a (rather biased and sometimes overwhelmingly emotional) snapshot of what my life was like in 2010. Or 2006. Lots of things were once earth-shatteringly important, when I was 19. Or 15. Or 12. I’d forget them entirely if I hadn’t written something about them. No one will ever read them except me. I mean, they’re not top-secret, but they’re not all that interesting, either.

And sometimes I knit compulsively, which is harder to explain. But in some weird way almost parallel to writing, it’s another instance of making sense of life and creating something tangible to remember it by. I can knit or crochet with an eye to the future and to the past, with a nod to the person who’ll use whatever it is that I’ve made, the child I once was who learned those skills, and the person I am now who’s investing time in working yarn and needles between my fingers.

I’m guessing the sentiment is similar for anyone who creates, whether it’s sketching, sewing, creating stained glass windows, or working with wood.

It’s meditative. It forces me to pay attention, to sit still and focus on one thing (like twenty-three rows of a crazy lace pattern) while letting my mind wander, in a way that the crazy Internet-distracted tendency of modern life often obliviates. Like my writing, I don’t necessarily expect anyone to think that what I’ve made is the best thing ever. It’s enough for me to know that I challenged myself, made something work, and that every inch of yarn in a finished thingy has been touched and crafted by my hands.

Lately, I’ve been knitting compulsively. Impulsively.  Maybe one day I’ll look at the little green sweater I just made for my future child, and I’ll think of the hours sitting in my little Guam home. Puppy curled up next to me. Wondering what corner of the world I’ll be living in next year. Ripping out rows when I make a mistake, then painstakingly putting it back together again.

I don’t have a name for it, but I feel like everyone needs that sort of thing.