Casting off, casting on.

I was going to write about this on Monday, but today is suddenly the right day. As most of you know, I choose a fine Canadian sock yarn to see the world with each book. (The first time it was Koigu, the second time it was Fleece Artist.) That yarn becomes the travelling sock, the sock that meets knitters, soaks up their knitting mojo, cheers on other socks and poses with everything local and interesting for the duration of a whole book tour, which in my universe, usually spans until the next book comes out. I knit a round or two on the socks every time I do something interesting or go somewhere neat and I stretch out the pair. I’ve been thinking for the last little while about what yarn I would choose…it needed to be Canadian and it needed to be very beautiful, since both you (if you’re planning on still reading the blog) and I are going to be seeing a lot of it over then next while. I rooted through the stash, I pondered the possibilities…and then it came to me. I have two skeins of Painted Yarns merino two ply that are unbearably beautiful, and they have been weighing on me heavily, since I knew the dye-mistress, Virginia van Santen was not at all well…and not dyeing anymore.

As a matter of fact, I knew that Virginia was terminally ill with cancer. I loved this yarn, but I didn’t know how to use it. How do you use yarn that was handpainted by a woman who won’t ever make more? What do you have to knit out of it to honour that sort of legacy? My angst was compounded by knowing she was one of us. I didn’t know Virginia, other than virtually, but she was a blogger, a commenter, a knitter and a member of our community. What can you knit to do that justice?

A pair of travelling socks. That’s what. I wrote away to make sure that Virginia would like that…that she would think it was charming rather than dorky, that she would be pleased, rather than freaked out by the nomination. I got the go from a friend in touch with Virginia and I put my two skeins out on the counter to choose. There was Spring Greens and June Gardens.


I was torn. Both are beautiful. I pondered and pondered, planning on making a decision Monday morning when I posted about deciding to use the yarn, making a big plan to take the yarn places that Virginia couldn’t go. Taking the yarn to knitters she couldn’t have time to meet…to adventures every yarn should have. Tough call. I wanted it to be a lot of fun for Virginia to watch the yarn travel around, slowly becoming socks.


Sadly, I opened my mail this morning to learn that Virginia had passed away today, gently, with love and before I could take any of her yarn anywhere.


Somehow, it doesn’t feel too late. I picked the spring greens, for spring is rebirth, fresh starts and something new from the cold of a long winter…


… and I cast on.


I hope the legacy Virginia left, her words on her blog, every beautiful thing she made with her two hands, and all of us knitters slipping her beautiful yarns between the fingers of our hands does something to comfort those who will miss her most.

Safe Journey Virginia. Thanks for the yarn.