A couple of weeks ago, during my Saturday afternoon volunteer shift at the library, I was able to get in one or two rows of knitting. I can usually knit quite a bit on those shifts because we’re not busy and because I work with a partner who loves to shelve books. But summers in Texas are indistinguishable from the molten core of a volcano and the library is air conditioned, which means more patrons and more checkouts. I can’t remember when I had time to even take my knitting project out of my bag.
But that day, I was knitting when a woman came to the circulation desk to check out books. She said, “Oh, I used to knit, but I don’t any more. And no one in my family knits.”
Bummer, I thought, as I scanned the barcodes on her books.
“I have a bunch of yarn,” she said. “Do you want it?”
My first thought, was OF COURSE I WANT FREE YARN. But then I asked the critical question as non-snobbily as I could: “Is it wool?”
She said it was, and that some of it was cashmere from Italy that she bought without having any plans for. “You know how you go to a yarn store and just pick stuff off the shelves.”
I nodded, thinking, I don’t pick cashmere off the shelves.
I wrote my name on her book receipt and she said she would drop the yarn at the library for me.
Around 10:00 AM on Monday, I got a call from one of the morning shift volunteers.
I was there in 15 minutes.*
When I walked in, Jackie, who had called, smiled at me from behind the circulation desk. Take. me. to. the. yarn. NOW, I started to say, but remembered my manners and first thanked her for letting me know it was there. She held up a stitch dictionary she had been browsing through and assured me that she was just looking at it. “I like to cro—”
“There are books, too?” I asked.
“—chet,” she finished, then nodded.
Manners shmanners. “Where?”
Jackie led me to a two-shelf book cart in the back room near the kitchen. On the top shelf were four dusty file-size clear tubs stuffed with
Jackie watched as I opened each tub full of vintage yarn—Unger, Bernat, Del Avo, Indiecita, Lane Borgosesia, Katia, Brunswick—careful not to let any of the skeins leave my sight. I felt like a prisoner guarding my breakfast in the mess hall, ready to defend my haul against Jackie or some other crafting bully who wandered by and thought the yarn was just another donation, there for the taking.
On the second shelf of the book cart was what looked like a foot-tall stack of books and magazines, also vintage, and mostly from the 80s.
In reality, only about 7″ high.
What a collection!
Pingouin and Phildar magazines.
Vogue Knitting magazines.
As with some books that came into my possession, these Vogue Knitting covers were so familiar to me, I thought I already owned most of them.† I didn’t, though, and they’ve filled in a lot of gaps in my collection.
Unfortunately, my knitting donor is a smoker. As soon as I can get the smell out of the yarn, I’ll do a post on what’s in the tubs.
Coffee grounds seem to be working to absorb the smell.
*There are other knitters at the library, including the director, whom I’m almost positive would not have exerted eminent domain over my yarn, but I wanted to get it out of their way as soon as I could.
†I did own them at one time, but they had been donated to Goodwill by a dumb college girl who had no idea what she wanted to do with her life, but was sure she would never knit again.