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What a great day!!!

I stayed in until lunchtime so I could walk to the Weds. Market with Steve at lunch.  I pulled my new shopping cart along and we bought German bread, pineapple, red pepper, asparagus and a lemon for dinner. I also bought some Gerber daisies to brighten this very neutral apartment.  We ate Bratwurst for lunch leaning against a building for its shade and then I sent Steve back towards work with all the food to drop off at the apartment.  I headed for the train station.  I had not yet ridden the train, and it was the only way to get to Sherwood to Threads and More.  I thought I should check it out before going shopping with Liz later this week.

Are you tired of me telling you how nice Australians are?  Tough!  You’re going to hear it again.   If you look the least bit uncertain at the train station, an employee hurries to ask if you need help.  When I “touched on” with my “go pass,” the station guard told me what a great smile I had.  She wasn’t flirting.  I got to my train 2 minutes early and waited.

Once aboard I knit my way to Sherwood which is a station 20 minutes from the city and has no signs or maps or even instructions on how to get from the platform to a road—any road.    I knew Sherwood Road couldn’t be far, but which way.  Finally a woman came out of a house and put me on the right path.  I walked to the yarn shop about 600 meters away.  See how metric I’ve become.

I introduced myself to the owner who immediately took me over to meet the women gathered around the table knitting.  Unbelievable.  One was a felting designer who showed me some of her unbelievably gorgeous work.  One was a jewelry maker and silversmith with spikey three-tone hair, flowing garments and stunning necklaces.  One was a freeform specialist named Geraldine McGovern who was working on an amazing scarf and who immediately told me about a special day at the Queensland Spinners Association where I can buy handspun or just some lovely fiber or some of the guild members’ products.  And then Marion Douglas, the felter, signed me up for the last space in Prudence Mapstone’s advanced freeform workshop on the Nov. 28.  Prudence Mapstone!  The Queen of Freeform.

Then I met Marc(pronounced Mahs), short for Marcia so it’s a soft C.  Marc is a wonder.  She knits, but only garter stitch now.  She’s 85 and she does exactly what she wants.  They all were amazed that I had ridden the train and knew my way around the City.  Even so, Marc was not going to let me ride back on the train.  She insisted that I ride with her.  She gave me a grand tour of the suburbs on the side of the river opposite the city.  She took me to her condo on Kangaroo Point where we sat on the balcony and watched the ferry and the City Cats go up and down the river.  She made me iced coffee and shared her last bit of carrot cake and told me stories.

Most of the women I had met came from old Brisbane families.  Marc comes from an amazing family herself.  She attended All Hallows School here in Brisbane as a girl in the 1930s.  This is a picture of some current All Hallows’ girls in the same uniform Marc wore.  ( I took this my first day here from our balcony.)

School girls going home in Brisbane

After graduating, she left Brisbane, she thought forever, and returned home.  During the war, her family lived near an American base from which we fought the Battle of the Coral Sea.   Her mother was a pianist and Marc studied music at university.  One night the family went to the American base to a concert—It was Hogie Carmichael (Google him, children) playing among other things “Stardust.”  Marc turned her back on classical music and since then, it’s been swing and jazz.  She still plays it on her mother’s grand piano.

After the war she went to England for a while and then came back to Australia, married Dennis and moved to NW Queensland to the land.  They were very successful, amassing many acres, raising five children, and living a wonderful life.  She describes herself as being “of the land” and has about her the strong no-nonsense, practical approach of a woman rancher.  She combines this with a true lady’s grace.   In those ranching days, Marc made wool cardigans.  In the winter they had frost and she could wear them then.  Not so in Brisbane.

Dennis had an accident which left him paralyzed like Christopher Reeve.  They spent a lot of time in Brisbane for medical care.  Then they returned to the farm for a few years.  After Dennis passed on, Marc decided to move back to Brisbane.  She said she gave away all her needles and yarn then, because she knew she’d never take up knitting again.  Fortunately for me, that was wrong.  While her friends design and create, Marc happily knits garter stitch rugs (afghans) for her 17 grandchildren.  The one I saw today was patchwork.

It is so stunning to me how people have taken me under their wings.  Liz called after reading my blog about the shawls and handsewn dress to ask if I wanted her to bring me her blocking wires and her sewing machine when she came back to Brisbane this week.  How fantastically nice!!  She’s already driving me to Tangled Yarns for knit night tomorrow night and taking me to Kaalund Yarns on Friday so see hand dyed silks.

Both of these women are having a profound effect on me.  It’s time to reevaluate how helpful I am to people in new situations—heck, even to people I know well.  There is a big lesson here I know.  Maybe more than one.

More later–

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8 Responses

  1. What an incredible time… and what lovely, lovely people!

  2. WOW what a amazing story—when i first read about Marc doing as she what i knew you two would get along just perfect—(after having to deal with me)

    you sound so happy and experiencing such great places, things and people–i say GOOD FOR YOU
    it couldn’t of happen to a better person—

    we all miss you at the shop (and at home) keep these daily stories coming

  3. A friend has me hooked on your blog – love this post – love your life!:) The women in that shop sound like a storybook ready to tell all!:)

  4. Wow you are having such a mulit-tiered experience. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  5. Kindness begets kindness! Loving your stories.

  6. i am a friend of Haogy’s Facebook page… How fortuate you are to have such a hands on experience in
    Australia… I hear Lucy Neatby may be coming your way with her ‘Aussie cousins’ stitch iagrams. Other news… Candace just visited Southern Cal and she will be teaching skirts at the Vogue seminar in NYC in January. I got to see her first skirt…Knit on! LInda

  7. opps… Hoagy… don’t forget… Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. it was so great to meet you at the workshop yesterday…and to see the green linen skirt up close. it has such wonderful drape, and looked really comfy…just lovely.
    this morning i checked my diary and remembered that i was going to go to the christmas meeting of a textile arts group this coming Saturday. if you are free and would like to come along as a guest, just drop me an email, and i will get back to you with all the details.

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