Lovely Letter to a Vintage French Yarn
What to do with vintage yarn
This is one letter in a collection of short stories written as love letters. The collection is designed to depict the love/ hate relationship that I sometimes have with a type of yarn or a piece I’m working on when I crochet. This letter is written to a vintage yarn I was trying to work with that I didn’t quite know how to use.
Dear vintage yarn,
You arrived in the first “yarn lot” that I bought off of Etsy. The lot was a collection of mismatched yarn and after it arrived I wondered for a moment if I’d made a mistake in purchasing it. Sure I’d gotten a fair price but what can really be done with half of a ball of yarn?
I do have to say that you were the first yarn to capture my eye in the box … and no offense, but it wasn’t in a good way. All that I saw at first was a ball of rough cotton candy pinkness. I didn’t like your color, the color that little girls puke up after a day of sticky sweetness and a night of Pepto Bismol. I didn’t like the way that you scraped against my skin as I pushed you to the side of the stash. I’ll say it more clearly – I did not like you.
I put the yarn lot away for awhile, not sure what purpose it would have. But then I started reading a lot about yarn bombing. I was familiar with this urban art, of course. I had seen examples of crochet and knit work around and about in San Francisco. I had seen news about Olek’s crocheted cozy for the bull on Wall Street. I liked the idea of this fabric form of graffiti. But it wasn’t until I really started reading about it that I got passionate about the idea of doing some yarnbombing myself.
Yarnbombing is a form of activism that I can get behind. It has some of the same history as graffiti art. However, it also has a strong history as a feminine art form since women are generally the ones who knit and crochet. Some yarnbombing crews take their cues from the rap industry so there’s this unique blend of street culture and fiber arts, masculine and feminine. It’s fascinating.
And I have to confess that getting into yarnbombing appealed to me because it had the allure of something edgy and hip and urban that I’d always wanted to do but never had the guts to do. And truth be told, never really wanted to do in the form of actual spray paint graffiti because I don’t paint well and I don’t like illegal things and although the taggers I’ve known in my life were creative people they were also frequently drug addicts and slackers. Yes, it’s a stereotype, but it’s one based on my personal experience. Yarnbombing is not exactly illegal especially because the work is impermanent. It’s about giving and sharing and community and although it could be argued that traditional graffiti art is the same thing, it’s a lot easier to see and accept when it comes in the form of nice soft yarn.
I know, you’re wondering what any of this has to do with you. Well, when I finally started thinking seriously about possibly doing some yarnbombing, I tried playfully to come up with my own tagger name. Most of the great names that I’d heard out there were for knitters – like Knitorious MEG and K1P1 and Puff Knitty. I had a tough time coming up with a name of my own. I thought about K’ro Shay or Krochet Dawg or about a dozen other bad variations on the word crochet but let’s face it – crochet is too French of a word to sound tough and “street”. You know what I mean, being from France and all. So then I started thinking about other crochet words and it hit me … Stash Bustah! Or maybe even Sistah Stash Bustah!
Because let’s face it, I wasn’t about to start using my nice yarn to decorate the world. I was going to use the stuff from my stash that I didn’t want or need or even like. And yes, I admit it, that’s where you come into the picture. Because when I thought about making something to use for yarnbombing, I immediately went back to that yarn lot box and picked you up.
And yes, as I started to work with you, I felt that same initial distaste. You really are a color that I wouldn’t typically use. And you are so rough on the hands. But as I began to crochet that first chain, I looked closer and realized why you were so sharp against my skin. You’re a 100% crystal rhodia skein, a vintage French yarn that really looks like it has little crystals hanging off of the thread. And the longer that chain got, the more attracted to your shimmery lightness I became. Instead of looking at you as cotton candy, I was starting to see the color of a light pink pearl in my hands.
I will be honest – you’re not easy to work with. Your rough edges made me think seriously about putting on some gloves if I was going to continue to work with you. I was glad that you were a bitty thing – just about one hundred yards – and that I wasn’t going to be making something long and involved with you. You are simply not the kind of yarn that deserves that kind of commitment. But you sure were more seductive than I’d imagined you to be.
When I had to take a break from the itchiness of working with you, I set you down and picked up your label, which I’d tossed aside earlier in the day. I found its vintage design charming. It said “made in France” but didn’t scream French. In fact, it looked very 1950’s American in its design and because of the font that was used. It made me want to turn you into a vintage inspired necklace.
So there is where I have to confess that I put aside that yarnbombing plan for a little while. I decided that you’d make a lovely necklace for myself instead. And you know, maybe some day I’ll tire of your itchiness around my neck and I’ll stick you on a sign somewhere in the spirit of what I’d really intended for you to be. But for now, I’m a little bit interested in continuing this affair.
Thanks for the surprise,
Sistah Stash Bustah!