From the depths

cochineal 2My deepest stash, excavated in The Great Closet Overhaul of 2014, revealed some wonderful treasures. One of them is this skein of yarn. It might be one of the first I ever purchased—just look at the price! It was 1978, at the Frederick Craft Fair. Ginny Barnes, who would become one of my dearest friends, had a booth at the top of the fairgrounds.

Natural dyes! Beautiful colors! Earning a living with fibers! My dream life! Judy and I wanted to stalk her, we loved the idea of her life so much. Our own looms were on order, I think, and we would have some of that life soon enough.

cochineal 4I never knew what I wanted to do with this skein. It’s small, and back in those days I didn’t know enough about winging it. Also, I think I just wanted to keep it. It’s light fingering, I’d guess — 260 yards and 40 grams of Cochineal-dyed wool.

cochineal 1

When it emerged from the back of the closet, I washed the mustiness away, and began to think about what it could be. I hoped it wouldn’t be too brittle to wind and measure, and it wasn’t. After a week or so, I decided I would knit a little scarf for my friend Ginny.

My 260 yards would be enough for something, as long as it was lacey. I searched Ravelry and found Evelyn Clark’s Lava Lace Scarf — just lacey enough, and calling for 250 yards. Tcochineal 7he pattern is a bottom-up triangle, which I’ve reversed. I’m knitting top-down so I can get it to take on more of a crescent shape.

The stitch is a simple two-row lace, easy to “read” in the row, and perfect for knitting away an evening. The Cochineal color is elusive, which is plain to see, since every photograph captures it differently. The top photo comes closest, and that’s because it was taken on a grey afternoon just before a snowstorm.

I’m thinking of Ginny with every stitch, and hoping that we’ll connect again. We shared so much back in those old days, before I moved away. I miss her, and it’s only distance and a sort of shy hesitation that keeps us apart. A scarf can’t fix that, but it’s a start.

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