One of the big challenges of the bike rally is the fundraising. Thanks to peculiar and wonderful characteristics of knitters, our little family team has done very, very well in this regard. (Thank you very much, a thousand times, thank you.) For the kids, this fundraising can be really, really tricky. When you’re young, most of the people you know are young, and the young are notoriously poor. (Or, they are as poor as their parents let them be, which is, in this family, pretty poor. We think poverty supports a work ethic in the young.) The girls have done their level best to fundraise, knowing (because we have told them) that they are responsible to do the best they can – no matter what. Recently, Sam took this message to heart.
She and I were in a yarn shop, and Sam was behaving the way most teenaged girls do when they’re asked to take part in their mother’s activities, which is to say that mostly, she was rolling her eyes, sighing loudly and tolerating me in only the minimum way necessary. I was picking yarn for Flow and Lizette, and I was saying things like "Do you like the brick? Maybe the green.. is this a good green?" and Sam was saying things like "The brick is fine. The green is great. Get it and let’s go" and I wasn’t being rushed. (My reasoning is that I didn’t rush weaning her, and she can not rush me in a yarn shop as compensation.) I was puttering along, and she wandered off. I picked my yarn, and then scurried around to find her.
Find her I did, standing in front of a stand of novelty yarn. She was fingering a few interesting scarves, and she had that look about her. Sometimes there are people who ask me if my kids knit. The answer is that all of them know how (they are my girls, after all) but that only one of them knits for fun, and that would be Megan. Amanda and Sam only knit to please me, or to score points. Sam spins from time to time, and Amanda knits when she thinks it would improve our relationship, but never before have I seen Samantha stand in front of yarn and look at it like it might be fun. That’s what I saw that day. Novelty yarns can be a gateway drug for some recalcitrant knitters, and that’s what I saw in Sam’s face. That if knitting was socks, and hats and sweaters – she wasn’t interested, but if knitting was all this fun stuff? She ran her hands down several ruffle scarves.
"Is this knitting?" she asked.
"Yup" I replied, being careful not to display enthusiasm. (Enthusiasm only puts teens off. They can’t know you’re in favour of their ideas. Takes the shine right off it.)
"Could I do it?" She queried.
"Yup" I said, again, appearing disinterested in every way.
"If I got this, could I knit it into a scarf for a Rally fundraiser?"
"You bet" I said, and I took a slow, deep breath. Caution was needed here. If Sam sensed that I approved, then all could be lost. I decided to apply maternal reverse pressure. "It’s pretty expensive yarn." I said, "I don’t know if I can buy that for you." That worked. There is nothing more delicious to the psyche of a teenaged girl than the idea of driving their parents into the poorhouse, and me shying from a pricetag made the genesis of the idea take flight within her.
"Please?" she said.
"I suppose." I said, and my heart leapt, but I covered it. We travelled home, and Sam asked for needles, and for information on how to knit this ruffle yarn. I didn’t help her. I did loan her needles, but I suggested that she look the rest of the info up on the internet. (You don’t want to get in a girls business like that. Better to let her own it.)
She did look it up, and I promptly looked the other way, resisting the urge to be helpful in any way. (This is a hard thing about mothering for me.)
"Mum, how many stitches do I cast on?"
"I don’t know Sam. You decide."
"Mum, should I use it all? How long is long enough?"
"I don’t know Sam. You decide."
She did decide, and lo. The child has knit.
The end product is a beautiful long scarf, out of the spectacular gateway yarn of her choice, and Sam’s offering it up here for anyone who wants it – preference given to those who can’t make it themselves.
It has all the frustration, glee and delight that an 18 year old committed to fundraising can put into it, and here’s how the fundraiser will work (according to Sam.) If you want it, you can email me at stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca (replacing the AT with @ and the DOT with .) and tell me how much you would like to pay for it. The highest bidder wins, and I’ll email that person and tell them they’re in. That person will then make a donation for that amount to Sam’s fundraising page, and Sam will pack up the scarf, and mail it to that person.
(That look is "Blue Steel" in case there’s any Zoolander fans out there. Sam’s career as a model is still developing.)
I’ll be the one looking at the amounts and making the call, because Sam’s a kid, and really just practicing knitting, and the amount non-knitters (or maybe knitters) think her work is worth should maybe, probably be something that her Mum knows, and not totally her. (Experienced knitters know we’re undervalued as artists, but maybe not the new kids.)
I’m feeling proud of her tonight. It’s hard to fundraise as a kid, and really, how do we even talk about the awesome that is a teenager looking out for others? This is supposed to be the most self-centred time of her life… the time she has the most difficulty seeing the needs of others, and if this is what being a teen looks like on her? Taking part in a 660km rally for the People with AIDS foundation?
She’s going to be amazing.
Bid away. Feel free to leave comments about the compelling nature of her work, but all bids for the scarf should come in email. (StephanieATyarnharlotDOTca)