Judy Sumner
Wednesday September 07th 2011, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A few years ago, I wrote a little bit of a book. (Purlescence still has new copies at the cover price, signed for you if you’d like if you wait for me to show up for Knit Night.) And it sold well.

My friend Judy Sumner, whom I had known via the Knitlist and KnitTalk yahoo groups for lo these many years, had had a sock book idea in her head for a long time. She had already been successful in getting a number of her designs published; her name was already out there in the world of designers and via the thousands on those lists; she wondered if she could do it too. Passing along the gift of Gracie Larsen‘s having believed in me and the great good it had done me, I thought a collection of Judy’s sock patterns would be a wonderful thing to have out in the world and I encouraged her to go for it, one voice among many others.

Twist her arm. She sent me regular updates on how things were coming along. I thought that was very cool. She loved her editor. I loved that.

Judy’s website is here, her book, which came out as beautiful as I knew it would, has been selling out the last copies fast of late here.

Then Judy not only surprised me with a pair of handknit socks, just because she’s a knitter like that, but she also gifted me with a hank of yarn.

And not just any hank of yarn. She had no way to know: I had seen Ellen of Half Pint Farm‘s offerings at Stitches West many times, (Judy I believe went to Stitches East), I had oohed and aahed especially over the huge hanks of merino/silk Ellen dyes and hangs in her booth. But I would look at the price, fair though it was for 13.5 oz, and leave them behind. Those were a lot of sportweight.

So now here coming out of that box that I had no reason to expect was a gorgeous hank of that very yarn. In one of the very colorways that I’d liked so much. Judy had no way to know that; she had just wanted to do that and could only hope I might like it. If only she could have seen my exclamations of gobsmacked WOW!!! in person!

(One of my tall daughters loves her socks and they fit her beautifully. And they helped me be subversive: if you want more that feel like that on your feet, you knooooow, I could help you learn howwww…)

But I didn’t know what to do with that hank. I wanted to repay the gift in the best possible way, but I was stumped on where to start. I have taken it out and petted it and admired it and pondered it many times over the last couple of years.

The time is right. It took me, with distractions, over two hours to wind it all up yesterday, but at least and at last I finally knew: when I asked here a few days ago if anyone wanted to knit for the people who had lost homes, jobs, everything they owned in the floods in Vermont? Who could no longer reach for a favorite hat or blanket when the cold sets in?

That yarn was handdyed in Vermont.  I’m using two strands of it right now, knitting it tight and warm and dense in a cabled honeycomb pattern to make pockets to hold the warmth on someone’s head out there. It’s a start.

Judy has moved into her daughter’s house and is under hospice care now with pancreatic cancer. Her mail is being forwarded; her daughter watches over her email as well as her. If you want to thank Judy for answering knitting questions or just plain for being a friend to everybody she ever heard of, now would be the time. Don’t hope for an answer; let your peace bless them and let it be enough.

It’s very much the least of their worries, and yet, I still hope she gets to see this post to know that someone out there facing so much loss is going to be hugely comforted that someone needed to repay, and took the time–because someone else gave the gift–because someone else had the artistry to dye the yarn–and it will all have come full circle and returned to its home state.

10 Comments so far
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And a beautiful circle it is, too. Thank you Alison, I’ll do my best to make sure that hat finds just the right head in need of warmth.

Comment by India 09.08.11 @ 6:14 am

No coincidences. What a lovely, fitting circle of knitted friendship. Wishing Judy well. I don’t know her, but if you speak so highly of her, she’s good people indeed.

Comment by Channon 09.08.11 @ 6:46 am

“…she also gifted me with a hank of yarn.” Did you say ‘Hank you”?

There is a line about random acts of kindness. It belongs here.

Comment by Don Meyer 09.08.11 @ 9:03 am

what Don said!!

I’m going off to prowl through my wool stash to start on a hat

Comment by Bev 09.08.11 @ 9:33 am

What a wonderful woman Judy is – I will miss her.

Comment by Afton 09.08.11 @ 11:40 am

I, too, knew Judy through the Knitlist and met her in person at her book signing at Sock Summit 09. We exchanged a few email notes over the years and I always enjoyed her posts. She will be truly missed. I might have to knit a pair of socks from her book to send to Vermont.

Comment by Joan 09.08.11 @ 1:31 pm

And now Judy is remembered by a few more folks who didn’t have the privilege of meeting her on-line or in reality. Your story of her gift is another gift.

Comment by twinsetellen 09.08.11 @ 7:19 pm

I love encouraging stories. Sometimes you just don’t know whether what you’re doing is good enough. Some stories will never end, some have bittersweet endings, like this one. Today I will do my best to make someone happy. Have a great weekend! (I’m very, very “Stanford-sick” right now. Wish I could take a walk on campus. If you go there, please say Hi! to the squirrels from me.)

Comment by Monica 09.08.11 @ 11:06 pm

My thoughts are with Judy and the many who care for her.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 09.09.11 @ 2:05 pm

Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear about Judy. I just lost a beloved cousin to pancreatic cancer.

I hate cancer.

Comment by Betsy 10.02.11 @ 11:44 pm

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