The following is a true story. It was told to me at knit night on Wednesday. I will do my best to recount the story as it was told to me. Names have been changed.
* * *
It was a February evening in southern Minnesota. A monthly hand-spinners get-together was just breaking up, spilling its chattering crowd, like a tumbled basket of yarn, into the snowy streets.
Anne clutched her nearly finished blue cardigan to her chest as she strode toward her car, fumbling for her keys. “Almost done,” she thought. “If I’d just had a another hour I could have bound off the second sleeve and woven in the ends. Oh well, no matter. I’ll finish it tomorrow.” She trudged to the passenger side of her white sedan and plopped the project and the remains of her last ball of yarn onto the seat. She closed the door, then rounded the car and settled into the driver’s seat.
The car engine protested the cold as she turned the key in the ignition, but gamely turned over on the second try. Flipping on her head lights, she pulled out onto the snowy street and began to drive away.
* * *
Sally was among the last of the guests to leave. She was a warm and talkative women, not content to depart until she’d said her goodbyes to all of her fellow spinners and helped the hostess to gather stray plates and mugs.
She was just walking out the front door, pulling on her coat, and she saw Anne’s car pulling away from the curb and driving slowly away. She noticed something odd about the car that made her take a closer look. Something was trailing behind it: something small and blue that bounced gaily behind the car on the hard-packed snow. A balloon? No. A ball of yarn!
The car was already a block away, stopped at a stop sign, when Sally began to give chase. She tried valiantly to flag Anne’s car down, stumbling toward it in the snow. “Stop,” she cried, waving frantically. “Stop!” Her cries were to no avail. Anne’s car pulled forward through the intersection and continued on its way, driving straight for another block, then turning left and out of sight.
Sally trotted along in the snow, eyes fixed on the yarn, searching for the ends. The yarn had stopped moving, so perhaps it had reached the end of its supply.
Sure enough, at the end of the second block, Sally found the leading end of the yarn, snapped and frayed where it had caught in the Anne’s car door. She picked up the frayed end, examined it, then dropped it back into the snow. “If I’m going to do this,” she thought, “I need to start from the center of the ball.”
Sally walked slowly back down the street, keeping her eyes fixed on the ground until she spotted the other end of the yarn. She picked it up and began winding, using the three middle fingers on her left hand to get it started. She wound for a few minutes, paused to massage some life into her fingers, then wound some more. Eventually, she had to stop. Her teeth were chattering and her fingers were like a bundle of stubby carrots, numb and useless. In her haste, she had forgotten to put on her hat or mittens, and hadn’t even zipped up her coat. “This will never do,” she though, gazing down the two-block length of yarn before her. “I can’t wind yarn with mittens on, and I’ll freeze my fingers off if I stay out here much longer.”
Still cradling the ball of yarn, Sally blew on her hands to warm them. When some feeling had returned, she reached into her pocket to grasp her car keys, then walked over to her little yellow sedan and started the engine. Once the heater had warmed up and was blasting away, she rolled down the driver side window and threaded the yarn through it. Then, steering the car with her right hand and holding the ball aloft with her left hand, she pulled out onto the street.
Creeping along the sleepy suburban street at stuttering pace, Sally carefully resumed winding the ball. Pull forward a few feet, then wind. Pull forward another few feet, wind some more. “Two blocks worth of yarn is a lot of yarn,” she thought.
“What must the neighbors think ?” Sally wondered idly, after a few minutes. “There’s this little yellow car moving very slowly down our street, driving kind of erratically. Is this person on drugs? Are they casing the neighborhood? Are they looking for the gun they dropped in a robbery?” She hunkered into her seat and wound faster.
Twenty minutes later, no police had arrived to question her and she had finally finished winding the ball. She held it in her hand and tossed it up and down. It was hefty and almost too large for her to palm properly. A full hank of yarn, easily.
Sally rolled up her window and pulled over to the side of the street. She fished her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed Anne’s number.
“You won’t believe what just happened,” she caroled, when Anne picked up. “Are you, by any chance, missing a ball of blue yarn?”