Joan’s Sweaters


l had the good fortune of an overnight this week with friends who take great care. It is always inspiring to me to be able to step out of my usual routine and space and linger in moments with others in their’s.  It was a true respite and rejuvenation came to me because of the manner with which they care. This is not a realm that I find most people in. This is how my friends exist. They are not over-consumers, nor frugal. Their lifestyle seems balanced and well-managed to me because while they have taken care to have the means to be comfortable they also do things like make sure the birds are feed, the bears have water during a drought and their neighbor’s dogs get walked. While with them, they made sure I had everything that I needed, preparing for my visit with small details that delighted me and made me feel cared for.

There is something so refreshing about the simple gestures of giving and receiving gracefully. It was like going to a spa except there was no money exchanged and it was brought forth with such love, without an agenda, that I could be completely authentic and real.

While we were out and about for the day we popped into a local yarn shop and I overheard a transaction between the shopkeeper and a customer.  A young girl purchasing a small handful of roving for a few dollars, that she did not have enough cash for and did not meet the minimum price for a credit card purchase. I piped up that I could make up the difference of the dollar and when the girl thanked me I told her that I was certain she would have the opportunity to pay it forward. It is an effortless circle. What we gain outside of the money is the true gift of the circle. It made my day, this spontaneous gesture and instilled something in that young girl and the world that will remain unknown to me.

The giving and receiving continued through the day as my friend and I exchanged our stories.  After not seeing each other for 12 years we had an endless conversation and I realized how rare it is to be with someone who does not judge another’s life choices. We’ve always been comfortable in our rare times together.

And then I found the sweaters. They presented themselves like a regiment in the enclave of the closet. They were a curious group and upon looking closer I realized their quality and workmanship like a true textile sleuth that I am, besides my knitting thing, and these were quite obviously related to the England of my friend’s background. So I asked, what is up with these sweaters and can I girl-handle them?

They obviouly had a story. My God, these all came from the same knitter and were knit in the same wool, different colors, probably local sheep. These sweaters were alive with even more than how the wool felt in my hands. The very soul of the knitter was encased in every stitch

Turns out that my friend’s mother lived in Ipswich in Suffolk next door to Joan Barrell. Joan has passed on now but while she lived these sweaters were faithfully knit over the years for my friend’s husband. She had given him one and he liked it so much that she just kept knitting and giving. Can you imagine?  She was not a relative. She was a neighbor who had it in her heart and apparently the time and love of knitting to create these blessed garments for her neighbor’s relations.

There was an extraordinary person behind these that I imagine lived an ordinary life and perhaps without very many others to knit for. Giving as her way.  Try getting that sense and story out of your next purchase from Wal-Mart.


About Marcinigini

I am blogging to connect with others in order to move forward the gift culture concept as expressed by Charles Eisenstein and to further the implementation of an intentional community network. Some of my blogs will have nothing to do with those but will involve my passions of crafting and cooking and open sourcing.

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