Last summer, my friend Nancy knit a shawl for my birthday. She is an accomplished knitter and has knit so many sweaters for friends, family, children and herself I doubt even she knows how many.
She knit for me a shawl of many colors, of wool yarn in shades of red, green, orange, blue, turquoise and purple. No matter what I wear, the shawl fits in. Nancy used the entrelac knitting technique to make the shawl, giving it a basket weave effect. She edged it with a 5-inch band of ribbing. I dubbed it “the friendship shawl.”
Nancy and I have known each other since we were about 8 and 9. When she stayed with her grandmother one summer, that lady scouted around the neighborhood for little girls who might befriend her granddaughter. My mother volunteered me and my sister, another Nancy.
My friend Nancy, her cousin April, her friend Allison, my sister Nancy and I became the girls of summer in our town. We were a lively, verbal, mischievous bunch who raided the trunks in the attic to dress up in what we called “the old clothes,” vintage garments — including shawls of lace and velvet — that had belonged to Nancy’s grandfather’s family. Dressed in the old clothes, we played croquet and badminton on the front lawn, attracting the amused looks of passers-by.
We swam at the lake on sunny days and baked cookies in Nancy’s grandmother’s kitchen on rainy days.
After 50 years of friendship, Nancy and I still talk about everything — an everything that encompasses the heavy, happy drapery of our having known one another for so long. A lot of thread through the needle, the talk that stitches us together.
Although we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, we stay connected by phone, e-mail and the old-fashioned way — with handwritten letters — we both use fountain pens.
Because we have been friends since childhood, picking up where we left off is easy — we don’t have to explain ourselves. Our collective past serves as the warp and weft that sustain our friendship.
Any knitter or crocheter who wants to honor a much-loved friend with a handmade shawl will find inspiration, ideas and free knit and crochet shawl patterns at www.friendshipshawl.org. The Web site also offers learn-to-knit pages, learn-to-crochet pages, Knitting 911 and Crochet 911.
Wrap your dearest friend in the warmth of your handcrafted affection.
Sheep, alpacas and llamas will rule the day at the ninth annual Maine Fiber Frolic 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, at Windsor Fairgrounds in Windsor. Admission is $4, $2 seniors, free to children under 12.
Attractions at the event include the fleece show and sale, the goat show, the llama show, the used equipment marketplace, the wool pool and sheepdog demonstrations.
But those who love to get their hands on all things woolly will home in on the lineup of fiber arts workshops. Workshop fees range in cost from $10 to $65. Some have additional materials fees. Visit www.fiberfrolic.com for more information, to register for workshops and to make payment online. The workshop schedule is:
Saturday, June 6
• 9:30 a.m.-noon: needle-felted fruits and pastries.
• 10 a.m.-noon: Fair Isle knitting.
• 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: spinning on a wheel.
• 12:30-3:30 p.m.: dog sculptures in fiber.
• 1-3 p.m.: Navajo triple lying.
v 1:30-3:30 p.m.: carding basics and tricks.
• 2-4 p.m.: wet-felted summer handbag.
Sunday, June 7
• 10 a.m.-noon: rug-hooked flower pin.
• 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: wet-felted “nuno” wool.
• 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.: kumihimo, decorative braiding.
• 10 a.m.-1 p.m.: pictorial felt.
• 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: drop spindling.
• 1:30-3:30 p.m.: dyeing for socks.
There is still time to register a team for the Sheep-to-Shawl Contest that the Maine Spinners Registry is sponsoring at Fiber Frolic. The contest celebrates the registry’s 20th anniversary. Shawls will be auctioned, with proceeds to benefit breast cancer research. Prizes will be awarded.
Maine Spinners Registry also is will sponsor a spun fiber competition at the Fiber Frolic. Categories include wool and other animal fibers, as well as plant fibers and silk. There’s also a category for garments, household items and miscellaneous finished articles made of handspun. More information is available at www.mainespinnersregistry.org.
Another big attraction of the Fiber Frolic is the Llama Drill Team, now in its 10th year, which surely makes it a classic attraction at the event.
Fiber Frolic is sponsored by the Maine Alpaca Association.
A Fiber Maine-ia workshop will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at the Page Farm and Home Museum, on the University of Maine campus. The program is free.
Representatives of Friends Folly Farm in Monmouth will introduce museum visitors to a doe and a kid goat from their flock. They’ll share information about raising goats for fiber or just for fun and provide a lesson in spinning the angora fiber.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own spinning wheel or drop spindle, though the museum will have one or two extra drop spindles for those who would like to try spinning but lack their own equipment. In addition to the workshop activities, Friends Folly staff will have raw fiber and spun yarns available for purchase.
The program is one in a series of Fiber Maine-ia events scheduled for Maine’s celebration of the International Year of Natural Fiber sponsored by the Page Farm and Home Museum and the Friends of Dr. Edith Marion Patch. For information on other Fiber Maine-ia events, visit www.extension.umaine.edu/fibermaine-ia/.