Inspiration from Oz

Today I received an amazing birthday package from my dear friend Valerye. She and I became pen pals (the pen-and-paper type–not e-mail pals) in the spring of 1993, when I was living in the Midwest and she was living just outside of Montreal. Over the years, we’ve written to each other about our boyfriends, our marriages, our jobs, our children, yoga, cooking, photography–pretty much anything and everything. We’ve managed to keep in touch while I moved between Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvia, and while she went to Australia to be an au pair for a year and then decided to live there for good. (Yes, there was True Love involved there.) Here’s the kicker: we’ve never met. We did talk on the phone once (right before she left Canada to move to Australia), and there are times–like now–when most of our correspondence is through e-mail (we both have one-year-olds, and sometimes it’s really difficult to find the time to handwrite a letter), but the bulk of our writing has been on good old-fashioned paper. I have a big box of letters and cards and photographs I’ve received from her, and I imagine that one day–maybe when we’re both old and gray–we’ll finally meet and sit down to go through this shared material history together. That will be a trip.

But one thing that’s not going in that box is an amazing book she just sent me. It’s a book of patterns by an Australian handknit designer named Jo Sharp. I’ve never heard of her before, but after browsing the book and her website, she strikes me as a sort of Australian version of Debbie Bliss. Sharp even has her own yarn, too.

The book is called Village, and it’s “book number six” in Jo Sharp’s series of hand-knitting collections. She’s used some beautiful yarns in there; I haven’t seen them in any of the stores I’ve visited, but they are available online (isn’t everything?), so maybe one day I’ll try some. First, though, I have to decide which of the many terrific projects in this book I am going to tackle first!

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