The bell on the doorknob jangled as I stepped into the yarn store. I breathed in the smell of wool carried on the moist, swamp-cooled air, a welcome relief from the July heat. I closed the door, the sound of the traffic outside muffled by the yarn-lined brick walls of the shop. “Are you looking for something in particular today?” the yarn store owner chirped from behind the counter.
“Inspiration,” I exhaled. “I’ll just have a look around.” The yarn store owner smiled and nodded and went back to her inventory. I slipped my Blackberry into my purse and started to make a slow circuit around the store.
It had been months and months since I granted myself the time to visit the yarn store. I was right in the middle of a really difficult summer, and today’s yarn indulgence occurred only because there were no crises at work that demanded my physical presence and my other errands took me right by the yarn store.
I’d been serving in my boss’s position, as well as my own, since the spring, and I expected that situation to continue until autumn. I dearly love my own job, but my boss’s? Well, not so much. If I take my usual Friday off while working my own job, no one really cares. But working my boss’s job is a different story. The nature of his position is that he needs to be available pretty much all the time. The Powers That Be tolerated me taking my Fridays off, but only if I stayed glued to the Blackberry, creating the illusion that I was really there, and ready to run back to the office at a moment’s notice if a crisis arose. The result was that I was never truly off duty, and I could never take a crisis-free day for granted.
All morning, I’d been running errands and checking the Blackberry compulsively. Now that I was in the yarn store, though, I decided to give myself a break for the time I was shopping there. The Blackberry could wait. I slowly circled the store, stopping to examine the yarns that had arrived since my last visit. One yarn caught my eye — something from a place called Green Mountain Spinnery. The label indicated that it was a worker-owned cooperative in New England. Well, that was intriguing, I thought to myself.
The shop had several colors of Mountain Mohair, and the one that I liked the most was a blue-violet. It had a silvery halo and flecks of a periwinkle blue that seemed to glow, and reminded me of a color in a box of fluorescent Crayola crayons I had as a girl. I picked up three skeins. I didn’t know what I’d make with them, but with three skeins, I could certainly make something useful.
“Did you find your inspiration?” queried the shop owner.
“Yes, I think so.” I replied, placing the yarn on the counter to be rung up. “This is interesting yarn from a company I haven’t heard of before. I don’t know what I’ll make yet, but I’ll figure something out.”
The shop owner studied the yarn. “Yes, it’s a new yarn for us, too. Be sure to let us know what you think of it,” she said as she went to go wind it for me.
On my drive home, I thought about the yarn and what I’d knit with it. It was early July, and I was in the thick of my summer knitting. I hadn’t planned to add in yet another project, particularly one out of heavy, worsted-weight mohair and wool. The pressures from work were weighing heavily on my mind, though. I could use a new project to divert my attention from my troubles.
I considered the wool next to me in the passenger seat. It was suited best to an autumn project. But why wait until then? Autumn is coming, I realized. The days were already becoming shorter, the sun setting just a little earlier in the evening. Not terribly noticeable to anyone, other than a person who looked forward to the fall like a child looks forward to Christmas. That realization was refreshing, like the swamp-cooled air of the yarn shop. Summer wouldn’t last forever. My boss’s special assignment would end, and my life would return to normal in the fall. I could knit my way toward autumn, and at about the time I’d get my life back at work, I’d have a finished object to enjoy.
At home, I went straightaway to the computer to search for an appropriate pattern. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but trusted that the same inspiration that led me to the yarn would lead me to the right pattern. I found it in Carol Sunday’s Shawl Collar Shawl. Complex enough to take my mind off my troubles, but simple enough to not add to my frustrations. And when it was finished, it would hug my shoulders, shaped like a smile:
I cast on the shawl and added it to my rotation of summer projects. As I hoped, I finished it at about the time my stint working two jobs was over. It’s pretty, warm, and practical. Just about every time I wear it, I remember being inspired by the yarn and the pattern, and knitting with faith that I could knit myself right out of a rough spot in life and have something beautiful to show for it.