Fresh Paint
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Yarn Tales
Thinking about yarn, I drive north deep into Republican territory. No "Knitters Against Bush" here. Find knit shop ("fine yarns and hand knits"). Yeow! I've never seen stuff like this before, since I'm from olden times, when yarn cost 99 cents and was acrylic, or very long ago, when wool was everywhere.

Man walks in holding a plastic see-thru knitting bag. "I was told to bring this to you and then bring it right back as soon as you fix it." Workers cluster around trying to figure out the mess. A scarf, twisted and piled up, in a complicated, expensive yarn with dropped stitches or ravelled or some other crime committed against it. "If I can't figure it out right away, I'm going to have to charge you." "I don't care," the man says, and sits at the big table.

A long time ago, this would have been a ladies' hat store, though for hats that cost about 500 dollars each.

I am aware that they are watching me, like I'm in a museum and might break something. Steal something. I am clearly just looking. Is obvious my real leather purse cost no more than 15 dollars at TJ Max.

A basket of yarn is so rich, so deep, each ball coiled around a center, vulva-like. Cashmere. 52 dollars a skein.

Door flies open, confident-stepping woman breezes in, needs red cashmere, bulky, plushy. In a hurry. Off to Austria, or whereever. "Though I haven't finished the other sweater yet, and there's still the shawl for my daughter. Still..."

You don't have to swatch the yarn yourself here. And they generate the pattern for you in just your size. You can knit the pieces, and then they will put it together for you.

I am suddenly aware that they all know each other, like cave-mates, and I am from a tribe so very far away. Even the man belongs, his wife's proxy, the spinner of money. They are not warm toward me, and I feel embarrassed even being there. They know I'll never spend 17 dollars on a single button. The store has dozens and dozens of tubes, all sizes. I've never seen buttons like these before. I suddenly realize that buttons used to be considered jewelry, as was lace.

I've never seen such beautiful stuff in my life. I feel like a hick. One wall has just 3 or 4 yarns on glass shelves, lit from below. It would take at least 10 balls of any of these yarns to make a simple sweater. They are busy selling cashmere to someone whose skin is rich enough to be warmed by it. I slip away.

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