As my Winter Solstice gift to you I want to tell you a great story about some great women. I am so proud of this group, and all they accomplish, and so proud that my Mum is a part of it. I want to share how wonderful I think they are. I hope I leave behind me a legacy as wonderful as this. As you sit at home and enjoy a warm safe Solstice, think of all these busy fingers, already at work for NEXT winter’s children…
My Mum knits all the time. She has been that way as long as I can remember. About ten years ago her knitting started to change though. There began to be piles of yarn all over the house. Yarn that didn’t come from a store and needed to be wound up before it could be knit. And beside the piles of yarns there started to be piles of hats. Lots and lots of hats. And scarves, and sweater. Little sweaters. Little hats! This was going on long before she had any grandchildren, so you can imagine that it caught my attention
She had met and begun to knit for a local woman, Adele Frischman. I met Adele a couple of times. She had a strong NY/NJ accent and she did not suffer fools gladly. She was a strong woman. She wasn’t the easiest woman to get along with, it seemed to me, but I liked her. She knew what she wanted, and she knew how to get it. What she wanted was hand made articles of clothing to donate to local kids who might need some help staying warm in the winter. But why pick out one kid over another? So she wanted stuff for ALL the kids. Starting in about 2003 she started procuring yarn from a local mill. This yarn was not in nice skeins all ready for sale. She got messy, sometimes filthy piles of yarn ends that needed to be untangled, balled up, and then distributed about the community to interested knitters and crocheters.
Untangling the yarn is a chore, it takes time and space. A lot of space! And so the “Holy” Yarn Rollers was begun. A group of women that meet once or twice a week in a local church, who allows them to use their long sanctuary to lay out and ball up the yarn. The local Women’s Club subsidizes the rental of the church for those meetings. Usually the yarn is given to the group before the last processes are finished so it’s a bit stiff. The women found that pouring boiling water over the yarn loosened it up a bit and made it more comfortable to knit with. Some of them don’t mind working with it when it’s hard, so not everyone does that. But it’s a pretty time consuming process, either way.
And it’s acrylic. Did I mention that? This was part of the surprise when I noticed all those piles in my mother’s house. I am a yarn snob. I am not ashamed to admit that. Wool and alpaca are my favorite fibers, but I am happy to work with cashmere, quivit (yes please!), mohair, angora, llama…I am happy to work with all of that, but acrylic is something that I try pretty hard to avoid. I will accept a certain percentage in sock yarn, if I have to, to make the socks last longer, but basically I will go pretty far to avoid having to work with acrylic. I would have said that I had learned that particular personality quirk at my mother’s knee. I always thought she was as much of a yarn snob as me, but here she was happily knitting hat after acrylic hat in every color of the rainbow, and in some colors that I hope you would NEVER find itself into any self-respecting rainbow!
So I was intrigued with all this. But instead of it being a cute little hobby she did for a while and then got back to normal, now, almost a decade later, this IS THE NORMAL. And somehow she has sucked me into it as well! OK, not totally! I still have issues with the acrylic, I mean honestly, it makes my teeth hurt to touch it!! But I want to help, so I found a way I can help, and not have to actually knit with acrylic, yarn snob that I am.