I have been doing some spring yarn cleaning and organization to prepare for my annual birthday yarn purchase. For the most part, my stash is not out of control, largely confined to a single basket. I have heard tale of far worse.
In need of a smaller birthday gift for a girlfriend, I was impulsively inspired by Yuko Nakamura’s non-felted slipper pattern.
The pink yarn is handspun and was gifted to me via my husband’s friend Beth. Imagine a woman in her early 60s (I am guessing) pulling up relatively unannounced in your driveway on a Harley motorcycle…Then she hops off and pulls a six back of beer out of one saddle bag and several skeins of her own handspun (from her very own sheep nonetheless) from the other saddle bag.
That is Beth.
She is retired UPS driver who has outlived three husbands.
And she knits. And spins. And, thankfully, gifts. Quite the lady.
I have been carting the off-white yarn around since 1998. It’s true. I have only been to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Fool Festival once as a fluke. I attended college near Rhinebeck, New York and randomly ended up at the festival when a fellow knitter mentioned she heard there would be a bunch of yarn for sale at the Rhinebeck fair grounds. We had know idea what we were doing. It was simply a whim.
I really do not remember too much about the day…it was so incredibly long ago. I just remember buying this plain handspun with hopes of knitting my first sweater. By today’s standards, I think the yarn was very affordable…but back then I was making $5.25/hour minimum wage, and the $40 or $60 I probably spent felt like such a crazy, huge splurge. The yarn has always felt so valuable to me (even though it really isn’t) that I have carted it around with me for the past 17 years across many states. I did once knit most of the intended sweater…but I vaguely recall it was too small. I unraveled the work and kept the yarn.
For a long time, I would use the yarn as beginner material to teach friends how to knit. It is well suited that way, and I didn’t mind gifting a ball here and there. Recently I have started to knit with it again (including my quince fingerless gloves), and I have to say I really like the yarn. It is not the least bit itchy, and you can really feel the lanolin in every stitch. It is a slower yarn to knit with, compared to a lot of the more modern yarns I typically use.
It feels good to use these two yarns together, both so storied. Much preferred to collecting dust in the hall closet.
I intend to make a second pair soon using a different shade of Beth’s handspun for the bottoms and more 1998 Rhinebeck yarn for the body.