I got some sad news in an email a few weeks ago. Betty, one of the wonderful women who shaped my trip to New Zealand a few years ago, passed away on January 23rd. The friend that emailed told me that she had been out at her family's camp in the backcountry when things took a turn for the worse. Susie said that she had been doing some amazing work with her felting and her fiber, and had been really happy. And for that, I am incredibly grateful and proud. To be able to go surrounded by people you love, and knowing that the work you're doing is fulfilling and right--that makes it all worthwhile.
The friend also asked if I would like the shawl back that I knit for Betty while I was staying with her. It arrived on my doorstep earlier this week, and it was . . . it's hard to describe what that piece of knitting means to me. It was the first lace pattern that I'd ever designed, and I spent many hours on the couch at Fleecewood and in the huge, comfy recliner at Betty's wrestling with the pattern. It's knit in yarn that I spun while at Betty's, from roving made from her own alpacas (and from her llamas and some nondescript wool where I ran out of the original yarn on the last few inches of the border). I spent five minutes when I opened the package searching out the mistake in the lace I knew was there. It even smells like the perfume that Betty loved.
But even more than all of that, it signifies a big step into the unknown for the me of a few years ago. I had been surrounded by strong women who were doing what they loved and making it work. They weren't playing by the rules. They helped me realize that I didn't need to, either, that it wasn't necessary for me to be a good girl, go to grad school, and get a nice, inside-the-lines non-profit desk job, especially since that's not what I wanted. Betty and this shawl helped me see that making my own path was worth a shot. So thank you, Betty, for everything.