This year I did something new and joined a yarn club through Destination Yarns and Erin Lane Bags. It alternates every month, but one month I get a skein of yarn, and the next month I get a yarn bag. The fun part is that the theme for the yarn and bags are both centered around world travel and, not being much of a traveler, it’s always someplace I’ve never been. Each month there’s a clue and you get to guess where in the world you’re figuratively going before the yarn gets mailed to you. I always have a good time trying to guess, and was pretty tickled in March when I figured out the destination was Japan.
The yarn is called Mount Fuji, and its beautiful pink color is reminiscent of the cherry trees that bloom there in the spring. I was telling my husband all this when I got the yarn package out of the mailbox, and was excitedly opening it. As I was holding the soft wool in my hands, I remembered what my mom had to say about the color pink. She felt pink was the perfect color for everyone, and would tell you there is a shade of pink that will look good on anyone, no matter your skin tone, you just have to find the right pink. My mom said this so often, her friends thought her favorite color was pink, and were surprised when I told them it was actually red.
Later on that morning, I was still gushing to my husband about the yarn, and the destination. I’ve never been to Japan, but when my mom was on city council in her town of Seward, Alaska, she had the opportunity to go. Seward has a sister city in Japan – Obihiro. Every year there are student exchanges, and that particular year city council members went. My mom was so excited. Even though she didn’t travel often, she loved when she was able to, and she’d always been interested in going to places like Japan. Looking at the yarn, I remembered the stories she told about her trip, and all the fun she had, and without thinking, I said, “I’m going to make a shawl out of this for mom. She’ll love the color, and when I tell her the color is the cherry blossoms on Mount Fuji, it’ll remind her of her trip,” for a second all I thought about was what shawl pattern would be perfect for the yarn, and for her, and then I burst into tears. My mom passed away four years ago. I haven’t forgotten that, but for a moment, it had been like she was still here.
I put the yarn in a drawer, thinking I would let it sit for a while. But, you know, I couldn’t quit thinking about it. So, I pulled the hank out and wound it into a ball and set it on my work table where I could look at it. I printed off a couple of lacy shawl patterns, but realized I needed to work on my lace knitting skills before I tackle anything complicated. No big deal, I wasn’t ready to make anything with this yarn anyway, right? One morning I was poking around on Ravelry, and I saw the Reyna Shawl. It’s beautiful, and simple, a pattern that would let my mind drift as it wanted, and wouldn’t require a lot of concentration. What to do with the shawl when I finished it, though?
I couldn’t do what I wanted to do with it, and give it to my mom. It wasn’t a shawl I wanted to keep, either. Looking at it, it felt like a piece that needed to go to someone, but who? I let the thought simmer for a while with the yarn and pattern on my work table. There was a hat I was working on that I wanted to finish first, anyway. But then I did finish it, and I needed something to work on, so I picked up the pink yarn and pattern.
Casting on my first stitches, I was thinking about a conversation I’d had with my dad that morning. My aunt, his sister, is coming to visit this summer. He was working on getting the house cleaned up. The conversation felt a little surreal. In that past, it would have been my mom talking about cleaning, and planning the things they would do while my aunt was here. I remembered when I got married 16 years ago. My Aunt Kim was my maid of honor, and wore this beautiful pink dress. That shade of pink was perfect for her, and you know, I think the pink of this yarn is too. My aunt lives in North Carolina, but everything is air conditioned. I bet a shawl would be just the thing. It’s portable, not too bulky, and can be worn at work, or church, or anywhere she wants really. I could probably finish it before she gets here, and have it waiting for her. Now, the yarn holds more than one memory, more than one emotion. I hold the wool and think of my mom, and her trip, and the color pink, and my wedding day, and how the shawl will look on my aunt, and I hope it will keep her warm. I hold the yarn in my hands and let the memories roll around. I hear my mom’s voice, and see my aunt, and smile.