When I began knitting I didn't feel like I needed a group and didn't seek anything out. Eventually I did appreciate the virtual ways knitters get together, either via podcasts or board chatting on Ravelry. As I became more involved in the virtual I also started seeking out groups that met near me. My local library had a nice group that met twice monthly but it slowly feel apart when it lost it's library support.
The greatest way I've met knitters has been through Instagram. Not too long after I joined, mostly to use the pic editing options, I thought to look for knitting pics. Soon it seemed to me that knitters (crochet and spinning too!) had taken over! Now I was chatting with names in the craft that were big!
I finally took a step outside my comfort zone and went to a knitting retreat, Knitting in the Mitten (KitM). I'd talked virtually with people who would be there so I felt like I knew them. I only went for one day but that was enough to get to know some great people.
One of the people I'd been lucky enough to met was KaRi. She occasionally held a knit group at her house. It was a little drive for me but I decided to go, then she let me in on some news. She wouldn't be able to use her spinning wheel for several months and wanted to loan it to me! What a dream! A ladybug wheel with all the accessories I could ever imagine. So I put spinning at the top of my to do and now at about 3 mos in I've finished 10 skeins.
I'm always saving and trying to get to a point where a wheel I liked could be purchased. Checking craigslist and eBay, finally thinking maybe a new wheel would be necessary.
Then someone posted a wheel available on a Ravelry board and KaRi brought it to my attention. Little did I know she did more than that.
I got in touch with the person destashing the wheel. I saw pics and knew what it was worth with all the accessories. It was going to be a squeeze getting that amount together on short notice but I thought I'd come up with a plan. We talked on the phone for what I thought was arranging for me to try the wheel. First, she told me this lovely story of how she came to have this wheel. I might have some details a bit off because I may have gone into a bit of a shock during this call but I want to record the great story behind this so here it goes...
G knew a woman who had a farm with alpaca (? Sheep?) and she came up with the amazing idea to spin a fleece and knit her a sweater. But she'd never spun and didn't have a wheel. She went forward anyway, getting a fleece from the husband and processing it herself. Then she took the fiber and went to an LYS and said I want to spin this, do you have a wheel I can borrow? She had no intentions of becoming a spinner... She spoke with Jo and she said she'd arrange it. But when G went to pick up the wheel to borrow she got a note saying it was hers to keep. She never intended to keep it but got to work spinning, planning to return it when she finished. During the time she was spinning, her daughter had to see a doctor whom she recognized to be Jo's husband. She brought up the kind act briefly and they went on to the matter at hand. Months later, G heard that Jo had sadly passed away unexpectedly. She started trying to get in touch with the family, thinking they'd surely want this piece of Jo back. Getting no responses, G kept spinning and thinking of ways to get in touch with them, finally trying the husband's number. A daughter answered and after introductions G told her she felt she needed to return this wheel as she only meant to borrow it. The daughter told her, no, Jo put the wheel right where she wanted it to be. Enjoy it, use it once a year and think of Jo as you spin. Besides, Jo had 7 wheels and it would crush dad to bring back another!
At some point G and KaRi spoke about me, my love for spinning and the struggle to save enough for this expensive equipment, as a mom with three growing kids. That's when G became my Wheel Fairy. Knowing she wouldn't spin, she wanted the wheel to go to a good home. Somewhere it would be used, appreciated and not sold. She wanted to just give it to me! Absolutely refusing any sort of repayment.
Just like magic, my Wheel Fairy arrived to drop off my (!) wheel. Thoughtful as she is, she even brought cookies for my kids, who had to put off plans for me to receive this gift. We chatted a bit and she again told me beautiful tidbits of info about this wheel's story. We will surely cross paths again!
One of the last stipulations for taking this wheel was that Jo be thought of... I know people often name their wheels, so it seemed to me the best way I could honor Jo and think of her often was to name my wheel Jo!
So here is Jo, my Ashford Traditional, on her inaugural spin!
The connections we make as knitters, spinners and such, even virtually, can become a community where we share, not just the love for the craft, but the tools as well.
I know when this story started it was perhaps a little difficult to see where it was going, but I hope it makes sense now.
I must also speak a bit about paying it forward. Lately I've been trying to share the knitting love more. I finally knit a blanket for charity, I began swapping items with others and giving away prizes on my podcast. I gave away some of my designs for free and sent yarn & patterns to an amazing woman who knits chemo caps. Now, I know these things aren't necessary connected to my good fortune of having something gifted to me, but it certainly makes it feel more significant. There are still parts of life that don't seem fair and no matter how much you pay it forward, you just don't feel the return. But when you're least expecting it, I think it's most likely to happen.