Post- Magazine

spooled [narrative]

keep in touch

Sun streams in through the dirty windshield of my green Subaru. I prop up my knee as I drive, and if my mother saw me, she’d be upset. But you are the one in the passenger seat next to me, twiddling with my phone to pick a song on our nine-minute drive to Michael’s. 

The aisles of the craft store bring us comfort; spools and spools of brightly colored yarns all organized neatly by acrylic, wool, and mohair for our browsing pleasure. Fifty percent off all yarn today! Paper bags overflowing in our arms, we walk back to the car with our loot.


We’re entering our twenties now, which means internships, boyfriends, darker shades of lipstick, reading books other than young adult romance novels. But I still think about third grade—noisy recorders, dirt in our hair from the playground, and after-school crafts—with a warm familiarity. I remember the periwinkle case you made me, a home for my loud, neon instrument, crocheted from scratch imperfectly, yet with so much care. I remember when you tried to show me how. We wove thick threads clumsily together with our hooks. Yours, a perfect stitch. Mine, not so much. 

The physical distance between our colleges sits on my chest: a throbbing pain. I wince when I think about the parties you go to, the dates you go on, the people you meet—noneof which I'll ever know. I was used to being the center of your universe, or at least occupying a little part of it. Now, we struggle to squeeze in a phone call each month. Each time I come home, you say little things and have certain mannerisms that weren’t there before. I wonder who passed them onto you; who wove those threads into the inner workings of the mind I used to be so familiar with?

I cling to the memories of our coffee dates. The Subaru brims with yarn and conversation, and we speed over to our favorite spot, where we both order zucchini bread and cold brew, sit outside even if it’s freezing, and crochet. Last time, we both worked on scarves— you, working side to side, and me, creating a long ribbon that I doubled in width. Your scarf was a pale pink. Mine, a soft cornflower blue.

I tuck my chin into my scarf on the Amtrak back to school. The train car is stuffy, but I don’t have space in my tiny carry-on to store the scarf. A thread has become loose; I try and fail to tuck it in, so I leave it be. 

Providence is cold. I walk out of the library for the first time since arriving back from home, and I feel like I’m going to fall over; the railing of the steps leading down from the Rock anchors me against the gusts of freezing wind. My scarf, tucked away beneath my huge puffer jacket, soothes me with its heavy wool, crisscrossing around my neck like a hug.


The light blue of my scarf slowly fades and the sheen grows fuzzy. A bit of thread peeks out of each little crevice, slowly—cheap yarn does that. Each night, I wrap the scarf delicately into a little ball and place it on my desk. In doing this, I notice how it’s stretched out in certain places, how the edges aren’t as straight as I thought they were when I first finished the project—changing, little by little. 

I met a new friend at RISD. One Thursday afternoon she took me to the “yarn vault,” a place I technically wasn’t allowed to be. The stash was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Walking through a room of looms, student projects hanging unfinished, and rolls and rolls of textiles and fabrics, we eventually entered the vault. The shelves and shelves of yarn, threads spilling over the sides and spindles squeezed together with barely any breathing room put poor Michael’s to shame. The room, slowly filling with conversation and yarn, reeled as we grabbed scissors and got to work. I rolled up little balls and stuffed my Patagonia fleece pockets with as much as they could hold. We spun project ideas back and forth, my mind a bobbin on a sewing machine. 

The next day, I laid all the loot out on my desk. What was I thinking? A little ball of dark raspberry, a spool of olive green, some threads of ochre yellow. Not enough of one color to make a whole project, even a little keychain. 

Most crochet projects start with “the magic circle.” Looping the strands of yarn around your fingers, a slip knot fastens in a certain way, allowing for easy readjusting of this circle of thread. This starting method is perfect for projects like hats, or granny squares, where looping stitches around the circle over and over again creates the project’s unique shape. Strands of yarn interweave, over, under, around, making a home for hands or a blanket for a bed. 

Crocheting frees my mind to wander; I loop stitch after stitch over each other to create something simple, something useful. Yet, learning how to crochet is a multifaceted process. The journey starts by finding footing in simple projects and trails off in explorations of new patterns and adventurous designs. The translation of these patterns requires the adoption of a new language. Chain becomes ch, slip stitch becomes sl st, single crochet, double crochet, half double crochet, and triple crochet—sc, dc, hdc, tr. Short terms guide novice hands: inc, dec, turn, join, rep wreathe my brain as I complete stitch after stitch, row after row.

The scarf was just one spool of medium-weight wool yarn hand-spun into single crochet stitches, all joined together into one long rectangle. Intricate patterns, rainbows of colors, dimensions of texture had no place here. I sat and stared at my brand new, little clumps of contraband yarn; spiky mohair threads, twisty textured fibers, and shiny metallic filaments shed onto my desk.

Crochet projects can dip in and out of different colors. For a single crochet, you insert your hook, wrap the yarn over, and pull through, then use the new color to repeat through both loops. Seemingly simple, and yet I struggled. Intertwining the two separate threads of yarn, one kept slipping through the loop of the other—they were incapable of meshing together. 


As time inches on, days looping into weeks and months, I find myself wishing I called you more often. There is difficulty in weaving together my present life—Providence with its cold weather and pilly scarves—and my past, where I wait in your driveway, my backseat stuffed with yarn eager to become a warm project, ready to pick you up and drive to our spot. There are times I pick up the phone, then put it down; it’s been so long that I don’t even know where I would start, what I would say, if you even found what I said interesting. But I think of you when I spin threads into chains with the little metal hook we bought together, and I especially think of you when I successfully weave two colors together. When little ends stick out and I have to tuck them in; when I learn a new pattern and get excited to teach you when I’m home again; when I finish up my scarf and wrap it snugly underneath my jacket. Memories woven into projects, new and old. 

I haven’t given up on my patchwork project. For now, when it gets cold, I still reach for my overworn cornflower scarf, finding solace in knowing it will always keep me warm. Maybe when I get home, you can help me, and we can start over together.

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