Saturday, August 29, 2009

Something About Yarn

A couple of summers ago, I was helping a friend pack up some of her belongings from her apartment in Ghent. She was moving out of her apartment to move in with her mom in Hampton. She'd been hospitalized for a couple of weeks with pancreatic cancer and dealt with chemo, radiation and surgery. All of that time in the hospital and away from work was leaving her severely strapped for cash. Moving in with her mom was supposed to be a short term solution: save some money and eventually buy a house of her own.

Unfortunately, she only survived about six months, give or take. She passed away in the hospital in Hampton right after Halloween, 2006. Her name was Jan Rosser, and she was the first person I made friends with while at Operation Smile. She loved to crochet, plants, her family, Halloween, and Johnny Cash. Jan used to talk about starting an online store (before Etsy was all the rage) called Sew Sassy Kitten Knits.

But getting back to the crocheting and moving out of her apartment...I've been thinking about Jan a lot lately. Those few times at her apartment when she was packing up stuff to take to her mom's, Jan had me taking down her curtain rods and carrying heavy stuff down to her car. As a thank you, Jan loaded me up with some of her yarn. (I consider myself lucky to have friends to share yarn with, since we lost Jan.)

I still have one of those yarns left, three years later. It's the last one from Jan. It's not a pretty yarn. It's olive green, tan and black, all twisted together in one strand. It's like upholstery yarn or something like that. In fact, it reminds me of tweed because of it's appearance and texture. No matter what I make, it's going to take me forever to use it all up, because it weighs about five pounds and is wrapped around a cardboard cone, like it's meant to go on a heavy duty machine of some kind. There wasn't even a label on it and it looked like she never even had a chance to use any of it herself.

Before, I would have used the excuse that I still had that yarn because I always had other things to work on. I actually knew that I would make with it, the moment I saw it. But I think the truth is this: I'd look at that yarn over the years and know that once it was gone, then I'd have nothing left of Jan. I finally broke down a few weeks ago and started a project with it.

This "hobo" bag from Lion Brand yarn was what I first thought of I saw this homely yarn. I made one and am working on a larger one right now. It's like this yarn was meant for this project. It's strong and slightly stretchy, so it's perfect for a trip to the grocery store. It seems to fly right off my crochet hook, and the larger the current bag gets, the more I think about Jan. I find myself looking at it now, thinking that if I had the room, this yarn would make a killer hammock.

I think about how, during late winter, we'd get antsy for nice weather and start counting down to the last frost of the year and compare it to when the Farmers' Almanac said we'd set the clocks forward. When spring came, we'd compare plant and seed prices for the best deals locally, and compare what we were planting. Jan had a balcony at her apartment to die for and enough pots to put a garden shop to shame. We'd talk about new crochet patterns and projects. It was pretty much a given that any co-worker that announced a pregnancy, the new baby would end up receiving a baby blanket and little tasseled baby hat from Jan.

I still find myself even thinking about things that make me go, "Ooooh, I need to tell Jan this," and then I realize that I can tell her anything I want, but it will be a one sided conversation.

So who knows that I will make once this grocery bag is done. I think maybe I'll attempt a new rug for my front step. I just need to remember that I'll always have a little bit of Jan and keeping the yarn isn't the point. I really think that if she knew I had been hanging on to this ugly ass yarn for three years, she'd laugh her ass off and ask me what my problem was because she gave it to me to use.

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