I belong to the Russell Knitters, a genial group of ladies that meet every second Saturday of the month at the Russell Library in Middletown. Last Saturday was an ordinary meeting day, eight or so members attended. Halfway through, an older woman poked her head through the door, asking if we’d be interested in some craft supplies that belonged to her late sister. She passed away recently at 83, she said.
In she brought dozens of needles — straight, circular and double-pointed — crochet hooks, books and even a half-finished tatting project. She left, amid our profuse gratitude, and without a pause we rushed, elbow to elbow, to examine our fortune.
The stash said alot about its former owner in its magnitude alone — she had every size and type of knitting needle available neatly arranged in a clear plastic box. The booklets were in terrific shape and plentiful, the needles in their original sleeves.
I scored a dozen circular needles and half-dozen double-pointed, rounding out my collection substantially, and a slim book of socks for men, women and children.
It wasn’t until I took my findings home that I realized how well-preserved her supplies really were. Double-pointed needles by Susan Bates, Zephy, Boye and Marcia Lynn bore their original prices, astoundingly cheap now — 39 cents, $1.10, $1.25 and $1.65. But the most remarkable piece was "Hand Knits by Beehive," stamped with "Kay Burns Yarn Shop, Needlecraft and Accessories, 150 Main Street, Middletown, Conn."
Price, 25 cents. Copywrite 1944.
In a year when the presidential front-runner could well be Hillary Clinton, today’s woman will surely appreciate such nuggets: "Knit your way to his heart. Any man goes soft and romantic over the little woman who makes socks ‘just for him.’ So knit them in his favorite style, his favorite color ... "
At first, I thought raiding this woman’s stash of needles was crass, but upon reflection, I think I hope to have such a thoughtful sister to make certain my beloved craft supplies are passed onto others who share a similar passion for an age-old pastime. With two boys and an editor husband, my yarns will languish upstairs at home in their orange tote boxes until some one or another decides they need said orange tote boxes for more important uses — like old newspapers, or toys, or clothing that no longer fits.
I’ll be hovering above, like Reese Witherspoon in "Just Like Heaven," unable to "cross over" until I let go my earthly attachment to ... the Butter-colored Classic Silk Top-Down Pullover I never managed to finish or the Tricot "sporty jersey-style sweater for the stylish soccer mom" pattern I printed out but failed to attempt.
If the delicately tatted handkerchief, carefully organized collection and a sister’s generosity are any indication, my unnamed benefactor was a woman worth knowing.
And remembering — every time I finger her gifts to me.