Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Tale of Kale

I realize the entire world does not necessarily know about Madelinetosh yarns even though they should. I have just discovered them in person, and even before I met my first skein, I was already in awe.

The chatter on Ravelry recently about them has been intense, and I noticed many online retailers were selling out of it faster than it came in. It is touted as soft, soft, soft for a hand-dyed yarn, and with colours deeper and clearer than you can photograph, due to a glazing technique and layered dyeing. Truly an artisan's yarn.

So...imagine my delight when, smack in the middle of my Birthday Month of May, kindly after my return from Ottawa, Make 1 Yarn Studio's new owner, Bess Mullaney, managed to wrangle a shipment to the shop. (I believe this makes Make 1 the only Canadian brick & mortar retailer of this fabulous yarn.)

What they say is all true. I am deeply, agonizingly in love. My tale of the Kale (colour pictured here) is a classic one for yarn lovers everywhere.

It all begain when the gorgeous yarn came in, and was situated on the table at the back, for meets & greets. I wandered over and met every colour, surreptitiously perused each skein. I was considering one colour, Oxblood, as a distant possibility and then...peeking out from under the more outwardly flamboyant single skeins...was Kale. A whole six skeins of her. I introduced myself, and although we both behaved casually, there was a knowing. Straight away. And, perhaps because of that knowing, or an instant faith that the Kale was mine, or maybe because of the side distraction of the Tilli Tomas I'd actually gone there to meet, I inexplicably left the yarn store that night without the Kale. I knew I'd be back, I knew she'd be there.

And so, the next day, after some guest appearances in my dreamtime plus a few hours' worth of increasingly obsessive online pattern and yarn research (of all the Kale images online, none matched my memory) and amount decisions (the whole six? maybe only three? could I justify all six? I wanted to do the Mara Shawl at the very least, leaving some for mitts and a hat, or a shawl expansion ) I marched to the yarn store ready to do my worst and take that Kale home where she belonged.

The table where we met was already thinned out; many skeins had gone home where they belonged. I spied one lonely skein of Kale and frantically searched for the rest. Where was the rest? Why wasn't she here? I refused to accept the possibility that she'd gone with someone else, hoping against hope she was there somewhere, just coquettishly hiding, or hanging out in a different part of the store. She was not. Past store policy has been "no holds" particularly on new yarns, so that was out, too. Not wanting to present myself as a high-needs customer to the lovely new purveyor of yarn splendor, I didn't even bother to ask, and kept my reaction diffident.

Inwardly, I was crushed. Much more than I ever thought I could be - this was yarn, after all. Just string with colour. Except it was not, no matter what I tried to bully myself into believing. This outcome was not what I had expected. Kale and I had made an agreement. Unspoken, yes, especially to Bess, the all-important keeper of the cash register, but still.
I had the one skein, firmly clasped against my chest. Feeling its softness, I tried to soothe myself. One skein of Tosh. Perhaps we could still make something. Maybe even a shawl. Perhaps, even though it would never be the same, I could mix that one skein with a couple of comparable colourways. It was already feeling painful. Bess tried, she really did, to help me decide what would go best. We found a reasonable match, a bit of greeny Bungalow and paler skein of purply/burgundy Oxblood. But it just wasn't the same. They came home with me, sat and had a visit with Kale, and then we talked it over and realized it just wasn't going to work.

I went to bed, feeling pretty despondent. All night, I kept dreaming of those other 5 skeins, that they were calling me somehow, telling me it was all right, that they would be there. I dreamed someone had bought them by accident and brought them back. Or that they'd managed to escape and hide from the hordes looking to snatch up some Tosh Stash. Or that there was a holds bin. That's when I knew I was totally losing it.

I woke, and knew I would still have to make my shawl, but maybe not with the green in it. What made the Kale for me was the purple with just the hint of pale green, peeking out just like its namesake. So I went back to the store, and Bess kindly exchanged, and we came home with the Oxblood. It was a better match for the Kale, but still, my heart sank, knowing it really was not what any of us wanted. I was trying to be grateful, after all, because I now had FOUR skeins of Madelinetosh and how lucky is that, and the Oxblood was there, happy to be with me anyway (she'd been kindly turned down the other day by her most likely choice, who was wisely practical and had far more restraint than I). Just like the other day, the Kale and the others sat, talked it over, and tried to find a way to make it work. I couldn't shake the feeling it just wasn't meant to be.

The next day, determined to have eyes half-shut after the purchase and practicing feeling grateful, a surprise post appeared in my Ravelry inbox. From Bess. At Make 1. With tagline "Kale". She had already promised to let me know if she could get more in, or if it came back to the store. Neither of us was hopeful, and with the hand-dye batch process, it was gonna be tough, either way. We both knew that last one was the batch for me. It was time to move on.

"I have all this Kale in the holds bin," her note began, and my heart began to pound. "And it was YOU I was holding it for!"

I was stunned. Giddy. Happy. Unbelieving. Kale was there! I KNEW it! Kale had been telling me so, all along! The chaos of the flurry of ToshStashing had Bess, that Seer of Truth, who had known what I denied in that moment, re-instate a holds bin, and then, with the confidence that happiness was secured, promptly put her agile mind to other more pressing details for the unrequited, and forgot.
What a lesson - and what joy! Had I bared my proud soul and simply inquired after a holds bin, Bess would have been prompted. Never again will pride come between me and the yarn meant to be mine!