Thursday, 8 July 2010

An Aussie Yarn

My longest-time friend, Freny, who lives in Australia, was scheduled to arrive at Toronto's Pearson Int'l Airport at 11pm on Tuesday night. There is no other non-family member on this earth that I am still in touch with that I've known longer than Freny.

We met in Grade 9 at Sarnia Collegiate I and TS - both having just arrived from foreign countries not knowing anyone in the school. We both started on our band instruments taking music with Mr. Don Jolley - she, the clarinet and I, the oboe. We attended the same music camp OYMC in Beaverton, ON after Grade 10 and traveled to Music Day at the CNE at the end of that summer where she performed in the Honour Band and I received the award for the 'most improved oboist'. That same summer, both our families moved to the north end of town and we both transferred to Sarnia Northern CI and VS where we were in the same homeroom and classes. Freny was a brilliant pianist and we spent many hours in her basement with her playing pop tunes and the both of us singing our lungs out, harmonizing to Mamas and Papas, Carpenters or Association tunes. We certainly had lots of fun together. After Grade 11 (1970) her family moved to Quebec and I didn't see her again until 1978 or so when she was in town doing vocals and keyboards in her rock band, Springwell at the Blind Pig at the Holiday Inn.  She moved to Australia in the 80s and the next time we met up was  in 2003, when she was in Sarnia visiting her family.

We had many adventures together but the most notable ones occurred on the same day and involved our getting to music camp (both of us for the first time) in July 1969 . My mom had driven us to Toronto and put us on the train to Beaverton with our sleeping bags, suitcases and instruments. When we approached Beaverton a couple of hours later, the conductor came to me and said it was only a 'whistle stop' and they would not actually be stopping the train but they would slow down and we would need to jump off. So I went first. Freny was rather reluctant but I yelled for her to do the same and she landed beyond the platform in knee-deep weeds at the same time our two suitcases were tossed off the baggage car. Once we had gathered our stuff, I thought we'd grab a taxi to the camp (hey - I was a 15 year-old city girl - what did I know?). However there was no one at the 'station' (it was more like a large outhouse in size) and it was in the middle of nowhere. For some reason, there was someone in a car nearby and they offered to take us into the town where we inquired about a taxi. 'The' taxi was otherwise occupied and someone else offered to take us to the camp. Once at the camp (by this time it must have been about 11pm) it was pitch black. However, we saw a pinpoint of light in the distance so we decided to walk towards it. It turned out to be a portable 14" black and white television with rabbit ears and about 100 kids sitting around it. They were watching Neil Armstrong prepare to take his first steps on the moon stating,  "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". But I digress...

Fast forward to the present ---

When I learned Freny was landing in Toronto, I offered to pick her up, bring her home with me to sleep and take her to Sarnia the next day where her sister and mother live. That night, I spent a couple of hours at Lorna's first and then headed to the airport, arriving at 11pm, only to find that the last leg of Freny's flight to Toronto was delayed and would not be arriving 'til 1:05am. Rather than sit there racking up astronomical parking fees at $3 per 20 min., I got back in the car and headed to a nearby 24 hour Tim Hortons and spent the next 1.5h happily listening to "A Thousand Splendid Suns" on my iPod whilst sipping full caf coffee and knitting the first sock for Aidan (more about that later).

I returned to Terminal 3 at 1pm to learn that there was an additional delay 'til 1:23am ('En Retard' below)
This would be the last flight into YYZ for the night (or shall I say, early morning). Finally, Freny came through the doors at about 2am and we got her and her suitcase loaded into the car and promptly began heading to the 401. That was easier said than done (as we found out) as summer nights between 10pm and 5am are peak times for road repair in the GTA. After a couple of failed attempts, we finally found a ramp onto the highway and as soon as I got into the express lanes had to promptly merge to the right and exit again due to all eastbound lanes of the highway being closed for an accident. So we found our way to a major east/west road and continued eastward for a few more km until I found another north/south road with a ramp to the highway. Thank goodness for the GPS.  I was grateful that there were no other idiots people on the road at that time in the morning. We arrived home by 3:15am and collapsed into bed.

The next morning (yesterday) we got on the road to Sarnia by 11am and after a lunch/comfort stop and another stop to top up the gas tank (I had forgotten to do so at the lunch stop) we arrived at Diana's (Freny's sister's place). We had a nice visit and then Diana and Freny went to the nursing home to visit their mom. As I had been invited for dinner, I relaxed and snoozed on the couch and did some more knitting.

After a lovely roasted pork loin dinner I set out for Valerie's for the night and this morning got on the road back home by 8:15 - arriving home at 11:15 with no stops along the way.

While I was visiting my 8 year-old friend, Aidan, last week, he asked me if I would knit him another pair of striped socks with his favourite colours: orange, yellow and green. When I got home I realized I had that skein of Corriedale wool I had hand painted in my dyeing workshop last fall that had those colours in it and decided to use it. It's a bit thicker than regular sock yarn - somewhere between fingering and sport weight. With all the waiting around and relaxing over the last couple of days I have this much done on the first sock:
I actually turned the heel whilst repeatedly walking up and down the entire length of Terminal 3 two nights ago.

Before leaving Sydney, Freny asked me if there was anything I wanted her to bring me. I quickly responded that some authentic Australian yarn would be awesome! I sent her specifics as to what weight would be good and how many metres would make a good-sized scarf or shawlette. I asked specifically for merino wool or a merino blend with anything but a synthetic yarn. As Freny is not a knitter, I googled a couple of yarn shops in or near Sydney and suggested she print my the e-mail with my yarn requirements and show it to the proprietor, that s/he would know exactly what to select for me. In very short order, her mission was accomplished. After one failed attempt (the yarn shop was closed - possibly for good), Freny found Morris and Sons  where they immediately showed her exactly what she was looking for.

Freny brought me 3 (!) balls of Morris (their own brand!) Empire Superwash Merino 2ply in three colourways (clockwise from the top), mineral green, russet and piper. There are 700m in a 50g ball. I could use a light mohair along with the yarn, or knit it with the yarn doubled or use it as is for a lovely light shawl, perhaps a 'wedding ring'-type shawl. The wedding ring shawl was traditionally a square measuring 6 feet (180cm) on each side and knit from yarn so fine that the finished shawl could be passed through a wedding ring.

She also brought me two 335m balls of white, machine washable Shepherd Baby Wool Merino 2ply yarn. I'm thinking it would be perfect to wind into a skein and hand paint.
Yay! Lucky me!

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