JIM’S SWEATER, Chapter 4

JIM’S SWEATER, Chapter 4

We drove into Maob “the back way” which is almost the best scenic byway I have ever been on. A sunny, warm day enhanced the experience. This is our 2nd visit in year, but a big part of the plan was rest. We love the Grey Panther, but seem to drive around too much. So we booked into a well-rated economy hotel for a few nights. Since leaving Sheridan, I had continued to knit a few rows and noticed a couple of very large errors. Keep them? Or visit the local yarn shop for help?


The door to Desert Threads, was open on the warm day and I went in. I wandered around a bit as customers were being waited on. Yarn shops have their very own ambience, and Desert Threads was no exception. Beautiful yarns, samples of knitted items and specialty items such as a handmade leather needle cases, felted book marks and stunning felted scarves filled the small store. I approached the counter and was greeted by Cathy, one of the co-owners. Her warm welcome eased my anxiety. As she looked at the knitting, she decided the two big mistakes needed help, which she graciously started to correct.

In the meantime, I met 2nd grader Danny playing with complicated lego vehicles he had made. He also told me he had knitted a scarf with other people who came into the shop. Rosalie, his little sister, was having a snack in the little back room. Danny graciously asked if I would like the last apple/honey bar. When I declined, he helped himself. Soon I was holding Rosalie (once a grandmother, always a grandmother) while Cathy continued to work, nonplussed, on the sweater. Rosalie wanted to sit on the counter where she often sits. Meanwhile Cathy continued to fix the sweater while refereeing sibling spats—“Use kind words” she told them. Finally the mistakes were in better shape. She wanted to knit a few rows of the sweater and calmly added length to Jim’s sweater.

Cathy told me it was “stitch night” when the local knitters came together to knit in the shop at 7pm. She was sure many of them would love to knit a few rows. Too often in our travels, we don’t stay long enough to get to know the people of a community. I welcomed the opportunity .Not sure of how they would react to a stranger, I was the first to arrive and sat in one of the folding chairs arranged in a circle. Soon other people arrive, including one man who stated he was a “privileged white male”. He liked to knit while he watched football. An atmosphere of friendship and easy talk filled the room. I relaxed. So many different projects—a mermaid blanket, socks, hats, a reluctant afghan for someone’s mother, still in progress for a year, warm colorful mittens, scarves.

Cathy’s sister, Rosie, sat next to me. She is a teacher and a co-owner of Desert Threads as well as responsible for some of the beautiful handwork for sale in the shop. Conversation topics changed from local issues and asking questions of the mermaid blanket knitter about her upcoming move to be closer to her friends in the Society of Creative Anachronism.

I felt so comfortable. I only meant to to stay the first hour, but I suddenly noticed two hours had zipped by.


Most of the knitters wanted to knit a row or two and the sweater was passed around the circle as knitters put down their own project and without missing a blink, nor stopped chatting, knit a row and passed the sweater on. Cathy was determined that the Maob knitters would add inches to the sweater. And they did!

The little grey panther had come along and hung out in the usual places, helping when necessary. Unfortunately, the little panther slipped away from me, staying in the shop. Cathy emailed me to let me know she would keep him safe for the night. I picked the panther up the next morning, a little anxious as to what havoc prevailed (think Night at the Museum) during the night, but there was still a warm smile on Cathy’s face as she handed over the little panther.

We said goodbye and I left with the spirit of the time spent in the Desert Threads held close to my heart after spending time with new people whose kindness is woven into Jim’s sweater.img_2482

Count: 3 yarn shops; (Wooley Ewe, Telkwa, B.C.; Close Knit, Portland, OR; Desert Thread, Moab,UT) 15 knitters !

JIM’S SWEATER, Chapter 4



Jim’s sweater made great gains in Sheridan WY as we spent several days with Alaska expats Greg and Debbie. We are still working on the back of the sweater, but several inches of beautiful soft sweater emerged during the laughter filled visit. Debbie is an expert knitter and was happy to correct my many knitting mishaps as well as whipping out several rows herself. My knitting confidence grew as she showed me some techniques in her best gentle teacher  way. Sometimes we both knitted and talked—something that didn’t work well always for me. So sometimes I knitted and sometimes we talked!!

The first part of the trip included other guests that the Marinos take in stride. “Rocket shoes” Debbie left me in the dust quickly fixing fabulous meals for 7 visitors including ANMC oncologist Matt and his 14 year old son Jack, who shot his first deer, as well as their long time friend, retired teacher and pilot 80 year old John. I never seem to have time to visit Matt in Anchorage so I was delighted to see him for a few days. Matt, Jack, Greg and Jim, while out hunting, became involved in a rather bizarre incident involving a deer, a competitive game warden and a gun-waving rancher. But that’s another story.

Soon there were four of us plus Maggie “the chocolatey lab”.

In addition to giving Jim’s cancer check up a green light,img_2082

Greg took him flying on a stunning day, landing in Coalstrip, MT where a fridge held 50 cent sodas and the offer of a retired police car to drive around for guest pilots.img_2126

Dr. Marino was responsible for Jim getting cancer care before he died. when I  had texted  him a picture of his blood results t in WY.  His local doctor was dithering. He urged us to quickly head to Anchorage.  After 2  days in Anchorage, it was 51/2 long months in Seattle. So there is a very special relationship between Jim and Greg

The next day Grimg_2145eg and Jim went hunting, with Jim shooting his first white tail deer while Greg shot a mule deer. As is the Alaska custom, they both thanked their deer for “giving itself” to them.

It was beautiful weather and wonderful company. We stayed an extra few days to help Greg and Debbie celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary with a great dinner img_2168and wonderful conversation. Sheridan friends Mark and Tibby came along with expat Alaskans, Chris and Dave. The best part was that Tibby was so moved by the story of Jim’s sweater, she knitted a few rows as we talked. Chris doesn’t knit but did bring her favorite mitts that needed a little knitting repair work.

The love and warmth in Jim’s sweater increases along with the inches. I can feel it.  It’s getting softer and warmer every day.

Count: 2 yarn shops, (British Columbia, Portland Oregon)  7 knitters.