There’s a whole lot of potential in a ball of yarn. It can inspire, or bring simple joy, or become something meaningful and transcendent in the right hands.
Summer is barely upon us, but for once, it feels like spring melted into summer in Edmonton back in early May. Personally, I have loved every bit of the unseasonably warm weather, but our province has suffered tremendous loss as a result of the hot, dry weather spring brought. Fort McMurray, a city north of us, was evacuated and devastated by wildfire, and lives have been completely and often permanently changed due to the tragedy.
While at first, I heard daily reports of the heroism and bravery of the firefighters, I soon had to turn off the radio and limit my exposure to the news, because the thought that my own family could have been in the same circumstances, had the fire been here, haunted me. I kept making mental lists of what I would grab on my way out the door, if we were suddenly told to leave.
I wanted to help in some way, to make a small contribution to the massive effort across the nation to support the brave people of Fort McMurray.
One afternoon, while at a get-together of local fibre artists, I overheard a spinner talking about all the yarn she is likely never going to use, and I thought of all the yarn in my own stash that, let’s be honest, I’ll never actually use, although it is great yarn. Most of it was purchased before I learned to spin, and before I learned the advantages of natural fibres over synthetic. I figured if I personally was stuck in a situation where I didn’t have the comfort of my own home, I would be going crazy without something to keep my hands busy, and likely others would be feeling the same way.
Six of us pooled our yarn, patterns, knitting needles and crochet hooks together, and we put out the call to anyone from Fort McMurray who wanted to come and take yarn and tools.
Now, I’ve spent my career in a helping profession, and I spend many hours volunteering in my community every year, but I have to say, I haven’t been so personally touched by a small act of kindness toward my community in a very long time. I had the privilege of being the connection point for the ladies who came to get yarn. I got to meet them, hear their stories, see pictures of the devastation of their homes, have coffee with them while their children watched cartoons with mine. Our contact was brief, but it was sweet. There was a shared understanding that we are people who create with our hands, and no amount of external devastation can take that from us.
I came away with new friends: quality people with resilience, courage and the readiness to be “Alberta Strong,” because that’s who they were long before they had to be.
After each person left with their bag(s) of yarn, a quote from a childhood story resounded in my spirit: “kindness always comes back.” It didn’t take much effort for each of us to share our extra yarn. In fact, our craft spaces were probably overdue for a good spring cleaning. And sure, it was kind of us to share. But I was so blessed by the return of kindness. I got to see, up close and personal, the generosity of the community of crafters I’m privileged to be a part of. Each girl showed up at my door with a box of yarny goodness, and an eagerness and excitement to know that their gift was making a difference for a fellow crafter. And personally, I came away with new friends: quality people with resilience, courage and the readiness to be “Alberta Strong,” because that’s who they were long before they had to be.
Now that all the yarn has been given, I like to think on the beautiful things that’ll be made as a result of these brief connections: baby things, children’s accessories, maybe even little gifts to themselves. The only limit is really the imagination of these strong, capable, creative people. Because, really, there’s a whole lot of potential in a ball of yarn.