The Incredibly Heartbreaking Story of How I Came By My First Skein of Malabrigo

Has there every been a time in your life that you really, truly wished there were hidden cameras recording the moment for posterity? Well on January 29th such a day happened to me at my new Local Yarn Store. I want to share with you the story as close to verbatim as I can, because the incredible oddness of it was blessedly unique.

~Setting the Stage~

I was sitting at a long table at the front of the shop. I had come in for a bar of Lo-lo to Go (which was 75% off) but remained lingering – throughly content to fondle the yarn and work on my pattern.

A woman comes in through the back entrance with a cake of (yummy) yarn in her hand. The weather is crummy, we are actually just a few hours from getting 10.5″ of more snow and she was obviously in a hurry. Here is the conversations that ensued. 

  • Woman: I would like to return this please. I don’t have the tags but I remember what it is and I should be in your system.
  • Clerk: I am so sorry but we cannot accept returns on yarn that has been caked.
  • Woman: ….
  • Clerk:  I wish that there was something I could do but there is no way to inventory it.
  • Woman: ….
  • Clerk: If you’d like I can suggest a pattern for you to…
  • Woman: I only buy one project worth of yarn at a time and I decided not to do a project with sock yarn. I am going to use worsted yarn, so I cannot use this.
  • Clerk: (makes desperate eye contact with yours truly) I am sure that we can modify the pattern you are doing so you can use sock yarn. Let me have a look, Rachel – what do you think.
  • Me: I love modifying things!

I walk over to the checkout counter and the strap on my purse breaks, spilling the contents of my purse all over the floor. I laugh but the woman is looking at me strangely, strangely enough that it actually makes  me nervous. The clerk is pulling up the pattern on Ravelry when the woman turns her full attention to me….

  • Woman: What’s your name?
  • Me: Rachel, what’s yo….(cut off)
  • Woman: Do you have a stash?
  • Me: Um, yes I d…(cut off)
  • Woman: Do you knit with sock yarn?
  • Me: Yes. (I have temporarily given up on more than one word answers)
  • Woman: Do you like this yarn?
  • Me: Yes, it’s lovel….(cut off)
  • Woman: Do you have a project that could use this yarn to the best of it’s abilities?
  • Me: Um…
  • Woman: A pattern. Do you have one planned?
  • Me: Yes.
  • Woman: What is it?
  • Me: The Hogwarts Express Shawl
  • Woman: And who is it by?
  • Me: Susan Ashcroft.
  • Woman: When did you buy the pattern?
  • Me: I didn’t. It was a gift for my birthday from a very dear f….(cut off).
  • Woman: When was your birthday?
  • Me: December 27th…? (at this point I wasn’t sure)
  • Woman: Let me see your queue.

At this point the store clerk is staring at me with open mouth amazement. She hands me her iPad and I pull up my queue. There was the message from my gifter and the pattern.

  • Woman: Here you are. (She’s handing me the freaking cake)
  • Me: I cannot just take this, at least let me buy your worsted yarn (I didn’t have the money for this, but I was flummoxed and I did owe her one).
  • Woman: Do I look poor to you?
  • Me: Uhhh…No. (she didn’t – but then neither do I)
  • Woman: I can afford my own yarn thank you. Here are the specifications on the yarn (she pulls a scrap of paper out of her purse). Just do me a favor.
  • Me: Uhh….anything!
  • Woman: Let this be your next finished project. Go home and cast it on, and use it. I hate languishing yarn.
  • Me: Okay…

At this point she turns back to the befuddled store clerk and lists, which such precise clarity the yarn brand/weight/name/quantity that she needs. The clerk all but runs away to go get the items the woman asked for, leaving me alone with the woman. I was planning on thanking her again and giving her my Ravelry name so she could see the FO when she said….

  • Woman: My daughter was on Xanax.

I am confused, then I realize that when my purse spilled open my own anti-anxiety medication bottle fell out of my purse – she must have seen it.

  • Woman: She committed suicide several years ago when she quit taking her medicine. She lost her job and lost interest in everything she did – I didn’t notice.
  • Me: I am so sorry….
  • Woman: Can you do me one more favor?
  • Me: Anything.
  • Woman: Tell the people you love to pay attention if you cannot list, on the spot, something you are passionate about. To pay attention if you quit doing something you so obviously love. Tell them to pay attention.
  • Me: I promise.

Friends and neighbors, thank you for letting me share this story.

31 thoughts on “The Incredibly Heartbreaking Story of How I Came By My First Skein of Malabrigo

  1. lovelucie1

    I am gobsmacked! How sad the reasons she came to give you the yarn but how fortuitous you came to be in that place. This took my breadth away. Thank you so much for sharing. Let us all make time for those that especially need ones to look out for them.

  2. Curls & Q

    Q – Tears in my eyes. What heartbreak for that woman. Silver lining for both of you that your purse strap broke! She got to pass her story on, and now you have. Even if it touches close to home for just one of us, the message is out.

  3. Andi

    Amazing how random meeting with people can change our lives. Not only did she give you the gift of yarn, but a memory and message to pass on. Amazing!

    1. allnightknits Post author

      I was incredibly lucky that this happened. Not because of the yarn, take the yarn out the equation and I still met someone whose kindness and strength proved that the world can be a better place if you just take the time to look.

    1. allnightknits Post author

      Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing it on your Ravelry page. Once again, knitter’s have shown great substance, strength and kindness – it makes you look at the world a little more brightly.

  4. Pingback: All Aboard the Hogwarts Express! | All Night Knits

  5. The Twisted Yarn

    Gosh. How strange, and touching. At first I was inwardly growling at the stroppy woman, but then she was so kind. Have you knitted the yarn yet? But poor woman, losing her daughter like that.

  6. Ginny

    Wow, what a story. I too was thinking how grumpy she was at first. People come into our lives for a reason, always a reason. We may not know it at first, but it will all play out. She was obviously brought to you because you would understand, spread her message and receive a gift of yarn to make a wonderful project you had been wanting to do. Can’t wait to see the shawl.

  7. Ruth

    How sad for her. The loss of her daughter must be an incredible burden. Is there a way for you to leave a photo of the shawl with the LYS? The clerk could pass it on next time she comes in for her next project’s yarn.

    1. allnightknits Post author

      I could leave a photo with the store, but I don’t want to share with the clerk what the woman told me. I can keep her identity a secret on the blog – bringing that to life where we live may be awkward.
      My plan was to try to catch her at the store again, the clerk said she usually comes in on the weekends. Good idea though.


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