Marking Time

Spring is here in Central Texas. After our scorching summer, winter was mild. My hand-knit sweaters languished in the closet, barely worn. Now it’s time to think about cutting the grass and weeding the garden and cleaning the windows. On Saturday, I saw strawberries at the  farmers markets alongside dark green kale and white-veined collards. Soon they’ll be replaced by asparagus and leeks, and come summer, okra will be everywhere.

Although the seasons bracket the year, they really don’t change much from year to year. Summer is hot and long. Spring is short and wet. Fall is short and dry. Winter is well, winter. What does change?

I was looking through my yarn stash a few days ago, trying to find a skein that I just knew was there, somewhere. It was a little like an archeological dig — the newest stuff was on top of the boxes and drawers, followed by a second layer that mostly covered the bottom strata. But unlike an archeological find, the bottom layer wasn’t the good stuff.

As a beginner, I bought inexpensive, big box yarns for projects — acrylic yarns in oddly variegated colors, wool blends that shed more than my cat and cotton yarn in crib-safe colors. I started knitting when novelty yarns were really popular, so my bottom layer has a few skeins of hairy, sticky, fun fur yarns. They weren’t fun to knit with.

The second layer shows that I got more discerning with my yarn purchases — I found a LYS. But still frugal and a bit afraid of sweaters, I bought sock yarn or wools for scarves or hats. Nice stuff, but in small quantities. And the colors — bright, clown-vomit variegated yarns. Nothing subtle at this point. Large skeins of fine lace weight yarn.

This layer also has “travel yarn.” Stuff I bought as souvenirs on various trips. There’s some scratchy wool (suitable for felting) from Halcyon yarn in Bath, Maine. Some Blue Moon from Coastal Yarns, a seaside shop in Cannon Beach, Oregon. A few skeins from shops in Boston, when we went there for the Marathon (Mark ran, not me).

The top layer reflects my current tastes. Mostly neutral, subdued colors. Not much lace weight — too hard to see as I get older. Or maybe I don’t have the stamina for lace knitting any more. There are leftovers some color work, as I ventured into that technique. Sweater leftovers too.

After a while, I stopped looking for that errant skein. Perhaps I gave it away, or just dreamed about it. I’ll never know. But I was glad for the activity, glad I’d dug into my knitting past and discovered a way to mark the passage of time.
Parallelogram scarf

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