Sunday, July 12, 2009

A love letter to yarn

I've been working at Heavenly Sock Yarns on Sunday afternoons for a short while. I find it simply heavenly, indeed, to work there.

If I had to decide between perfume and yarn, I'd take the yarn and run. I may truly adore fragrances, but my love of yarn has been a longer love affair, and runs much deeper. I also know much more about yarn than fragrance. I've raised sheep, been a spinner, a weaver, and a life-long knitter. I understand how a yarn is made. In this way, my love for the stuff is properly more akin to a perfumer who loves perfume, who really knows it, and thank goodness I haven't been tainted by my few (failed) attempts to make a living with it.

I really find it hard to believe that I'm being paid to work in a yarn shop. Pointing out the merits of different yarn to people, helping them with their knitting, or simply being with other people who love simply holding a nice ball of yarn in their hands, well, it's pure fun. I've always dreamt of owning a yarn shop, but unfortunately I had these dreams before knitting became popular, and it was a losing proposition. But getting to work in a fantastic shop (and it is) is just as good, maybe better, for I don't have the worries and hassles of running the business. No wonder I'm thrilled!

This shop is a gem of a place. It's quite small, and it seems impossible that it holds such an extraordinary selection of yarn. Since I only work once a week, every time I go in there's some new surprise, and it's a bit hard on me, for sometimes those surprises scream "take me home!" Today, there was a luscious new Malabrigo yarn (pictured above) that was begging me to start knitting a new shawl. New shawl? I haven't finished the old one yet, nor have I even used the last skein of yarn that beckoned me so. I've got two unfinished sweaters and one unfinished pair of socks (in addition to the abandoned projects, perhaps a half dozen, that should be ripped out).

I don't feel too bad about all this. Whenever I'm in the shop, I hear the same thing from others. A standard request from a customer is this, "Please don't let me buy anything!" As if I can help them - I can't help but point out all the luscious yarns that they haven't seen yet, oh no. Others say "I wonder if I can get out of here without purchasing anything. I have enough yarn to last me a lifetime." I don't have enough yarn to last me a lifetime, not quite, but I certainly have more than enough. But like perfume, there's always something new to explore or old that hadn't been noticed.

This is not mere materialism. It's love.

There's nothing about a good ball of yarn that I don't like. I like the feel, whether it's as smooth as silk and merino wool, or scratchy with linen or mohair. I like the colors, of course, especially when they're hand dyed, or pure and natural, practically right off the sheep, camel, alpaca, or qiviut (but I am partial to sheep). Angora? Okay, there's one fiber I've never loved. Nor do I have much love for cotton, but there's some that are beautiful to look at. Bamboo, suddenly popping up in many yarns, is a lovely soft fiber.

I love the smell of sheep, but I've blogged about that enough.

A skein is a gorgeous thing. The way is twist and turns and drapes in ones' hands is a delight. Unfurl a skein and it looking gorgeous hanging down, draped over a chair, wrapped around one's hair, left in a bag, a basket, hung from the rafters or used as a swath. I could buy them just for themselves (and I'm sure I sometimes do, even if I've got justifications for a new project). Oh, why bother to knit anything?

I've never bought any Malabrigo yarn (though I suspect I'm about to) but I've always enjoyed looking at it. There's hanging skeins and piles of the worsted wool, the colors ranging from the most subtle to almost luridly vibrant, at the back of the store. It's slightly thick-and-thin texture cascades down the wall where it hangs from hooks. I can't imagine how anyone can pass it by without admiring (or practically salivating).

With all this gorgeous yarn, I'm always amazed when someone pull a project from their bag made of the ol' Red Heart acrylic yarn. Sure, it's cheap, but it's so ugly. When I was a kid, it was all one could get, and when I finally found a store that had something else, I thought I might faint with joy. I am not exaggerating; I would make sure I passed this store every day and go in to say hello. I couldn't afford any of it, but it didn't matter. I would just stand there and stare. It felt as satisfying and transporting as seeing the Flemish paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Did I say I love yarn?


BitterGrace said...

Thanks for this post. It's very nice to experience someone else's joy vicariously ;-)

I can't think of anything in my life that's like your yarn; i.e., something I know a lot about, and that also gives me so much pure aesthetic pleasure. That's quite a gift.

Julie H. Rose said...

How about poetry, music, art, perfume?

BitterGrace said...

I guess I don't think of myself as knowing "a lot" about any of those. Not sure how much a lot is ;-)