In a time that stood for all times, there was a woman who loved fiber and wanted to share that love with others. She wondered how she could accomplish this feat, and she hoped and dreamed and prayed for an answer, and then it came to her: she would create a shop, and with that shop, she would build a community of fiber-lovers.
And so she did. Her first shop was a beacon in the darkness, a place where those who wanted to escape could travel and touch the strands of yarn and fleece, from delicate to robust, a place where those who wanted to create could find the materials they needed to make all manner of beautiful and useful garments. But sadly, after not much time, this place of bounty was harmed in a great quake. A strange and dark menacing force shook the very foundation of her shop, rendering it an unsafe place to tread forevermore.
Can you imagine what this woman went through when this happened? The place that she had created with her will and hopes and dreams and prayers? She was devastated. She wondered what she could do. She wondered if her dream had somehow been wrong. She wondered if she should give up.
But the fiber then began to speak to her. In the quiet of the night, next to a roaring crackling fire in her hearth, she sat and knitted or crocheted, and in those moments of solitude, she thought she heard a small voice whisper to her. At first, she thought it was in her mind. But then, the voice grew stronger. It was smooth yet supple, much like the silk that glided effortlessly over her needles. It sang to her, in hushed tones, “you must create again. You must build a community. This is your mission. This is who you are.”
And so the next day, armed with that knowledge, she began again. And in time, she found another home to house that fiber community. It took all she had–money, time, energy, hopes, willpower, and dreams. She summoned everything she had; she looked to her family and friends; she looked to the fiber that continued to sing to her in the darkness by the glowing fire. And she built another community, stronger than before.
In this new home, every corner was filled with beautiful yarn, in every color of the rainbow and then some. Yarn that would keep one warm on a cold winter’s night, and yarn that would drape and glow and surround one like a cloud on her wedding day. There was no end to the colors and fibers she kept in this grand home, an offering to those who patronized her shop, leaving all satisfied that their purchases were not simple material goods but products imbued with the spirit of the one who offered them.
She once said to a patron that every day, she would whisper to the inside of her shop that she wanted as well to build a strong sense of community: that the 4 walls would not simply house goods for purchase, but also encourage and invite those who entered to want to congregate, to learn one another’s names, to hear one another’s stories, to spend time together, laughing and crying and knitting and crocheting, making art while making one another’s lives better by their very connections. She prayed to those walls, to the energy inside them, and to God, to allow her to gather that community and to give her the tools to keep it alive.
And so it happened. She was given this gift, and her community began to flourish. And as the patrons became friends, they took part in spreading their good will and cheer to others outside the four walls. When a dear friend’s family endured a terrible fire, and they lost what they thought was everything, this community banded together and made them red hats in support of their first efforts to rebuild. When there was a call to help those in need to shield themselves against the cold winter, this community worked together to make garments to donate. And when this community wanted to give back to one another the bounty that they had collected, they brought in their fiber and sold it to one another, an event which felt like Christmas all over again.
The community was there for one another and there for itself. And this mattered. The fiber flew through fingers as garments were made and stories were told. And isn’t that what life is about? It’s about sheltering one another from the storm, whether that storm is literal or figurative. This woman, whose name was Sue, was given a gift, and her gift was to bring a small corner of the world together, where they could welcome and give shelter to the one, or to combine their efforts and bring shelter to the many.
Some nights, it is said, that after Sue returns home to her crackling fireplace and her needles or hook by the hearth, that the fiber in the shop begins to sing. One skein of ethereal periwinkle blue silk and merino will begin, tentatively, and then another skein of an alpaca blend in pale pink will join her. After a verse or two, a strong deep purple worsted wool will add volume with his bass, and then in short order, all of the skeins will begin to sing. They sing of hope. They sing of dreams. They sing of vision and creativity. But most of all, they sing of the woman who brought them all together, and they, too, form a community of voices, just like those who visit Sue’s shop, all healers, spreading good will and cheer throughout the world.
(Written for Sue, owner of The Yarn Maven shop in Smyrna, DE)