When a knitter visits an island known for pastoral settings with contented wandering sheep, it is a logical assumption that there may be a run-in with wool. Last weekend we spent an idyllic extra long weekend on Salt Spring Island. Our main reason for the visit had nothing to do with yarn, but it was certainly in the back of my mind that I might find some unique hand-spun and hand-dyed skeins. Pottery and art were also a possibility, as Salt Spring is full of accomplished artists and artisans.
As the door to my favorite island gallery closed behind us, my eyes were already scanning the walls to see if I was going to be inspired by what hung there. I charged ahead of Jon, eager to do a quick once-around before I got down to the business of serious inspection. I noticed a young boy sitting with some crayons and paper on the floor, waiting for a parent I guessed. He seemed very content. As I passed by, I heard him greet Jon with a polite but determined "Hello". Jon can never resist a child and he slowed at the invitation.
"Hello to you", I heard him reply. "How are you doing"?
"Fine, thank you", the boy replied, and then, sensing that Jon was moving on, "You know, my art is for sale".
I remember wondering if he felt some childish sense of ownership of all the paintings in the gallery. Strange. I carried on into the gallery, but the conversation I could hear soon compelled me to circle back to where Jon was crouched down.
The boy of 5 or 6 years was tucked against a wall, with a small platform of an upside down box in front of him. On this platform were scattered four or five drawings, clearly done by a young person. At the end of the platform was a box of coins. Looking back at the "art", I saw that each piece had a price tag carefully placed in the corner. One dollar, fifty cents, twenty-five cents. All in childish numerals, dollar sign askew. Cute.
"This young fellow was just explaining that he is sailing away from a volcano in this picture", Jon explained to me. I was being drawn into the game. "And this is me and my cat in front of my house" the boy pointed at another image. His hand then dived into the Tupperware of blueberries in his lap, and he absentmindedly tried to stuff three at once into his mouth. One almost went up his nose. Was he a little bit nervous, I wondered? The artist's insecurity welling up inside? I fished around in my bag for my wallet. I was fascinated by his determination. I palmed some quarters, still unsure which picture would be the one.
"Tell me about this one". I pointed to the blue and red drawing of a happy stick man. "Is this you?"
"It's me with a ball of yarn" he replied. " I am in my boat".
Hmm, yes, I could see it was a boat, but a ball of yarn? "Why do you have a ball of yarn?", I puzzled out loud.
He looked at me with a bit of childish impatience. "It is for my cat of course", as if it should have been obvious. "My cat is in the boat".
I held out my hand with the two quarters, smiling. "Perfect. I'll take it. I have been looking for some yarn".
As I watched him sign the corner of the picture for me, I felt a wave of nostalgia for all the kids' pictures I have stored away at home. All the magnet-mounted memories on a crowded fridge door. I had found my ball of yarn in the unlikeliest of places. My weekend was complete.
Diane Zwickel lives and knits in South Surrey, B.C. Canada