I knit or crochet all the time. I mean, all the time. Carry it with me everywhere. There is always a project of some sort on the front passenger seat of my car, since you never know when you’ll get stuck in traffic. (I once sat in a major traffic back-up on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in DC, and luckily had a scarf-in-progress with me. By the time the back-up ended, some two hours later, I had a scarf-almost-done.) Late one recent afternoon, I was on the T bus in Chapel Hill, heading home. Bus was a bit crowded, but I found an empty seat just behind the railing at the rear door. I pulled out a crochet hook and some white sparkly yarn, and started making a starfish. At the next stop, a woman got on the bus at the front, shepherding two small children in front of her, a girl about eight, and a younger boy. The mom and boy found a seat, but the girl chose to stand near the rear door and hang on to the railing. We made eye contact, and I went back to my starfish. She spied the yarn and crochet hook in my hands, and stared. I smiled at her and she looked from me to the yarn and back to me, then smiled back shyly. I finished one starfish, knotted the yarn and snipped the tails. She watched. I started the second starfish, my hook flying in my hands. Still she watched, inching closer, now her hands sometimes absently reaching up as if to touch the yarn. We were about halfway to my stop by then. I finished the second piece, then quickly stitched them together to make a solid sparkly starfish. As I snipped the final yarn and pulled each leg to straighten it, she watched, mouth wide open, then looked at my eyes, her own wide with amazement. I reach over the chrome railing and handed it to her. Suddenly the bus slowed down for the next stop. She hesitated just a moment, then took the starfish in her hand just as her mom and brother swooped up from their seats to usher her out the now-open rear door. As the doors closed and the bus began moving again, I looked out the window just in time to see her holding the starfish in both hands, and she looked up at me and waved, smiling.
Not too long ago, my husband and I took a quick trip to Tampa, Florida to celebrate the 85th birthday of his Uncle Don. While there, we spent a wonderful evening at a cookout at the home of one of Don’s daughters. As she gave us a tour of her adorable Florida cottage, we turned the corner into her dining room and there, in a large and airy cage, was the most gorgeous African Grey parrot I have ever seen. His name was Sammy, and as soon as he saw visitors approach, he puffed out his chest and actually preened: I think he knew just how gorgeous he was. He had deep slate-grey back feathers, and a coral breast that practically glowed. It literally stopped me in my tracks: the colors were so rich and vibrant. I turned to my husband and said, “That’s the next Scarffish color.” So here it is: African Grey: a beautiful, soft grey Scarffish with deep coral starfish. (You can also order a Moby infinity scarf in this combination.) Either one: $75.00, made by hand in Chapel Hill NC. Free shipping, too. What are you waiting for?
A couple of years ago, post-college, my daughter worked for CityYear in Washington, DC. We moved her and a roomie into an old red-brick apartment building in Glover Park: a second floor walk-up with one bedroom and a second “bedroom” created out of the magic of the porch behind the kitchen. When we got there, it was clean and swept, but in the living room was a tired looking, spindly palm tree, literally horizontal on the floor, looking none too happy. We moved the girls in, repotted the plant (Mom’s hope springs eternal), and left them to their Big City Adventure. Several months later, when landlord neglect and bursting water pipes dictated a move, we once again swooped in to help, this time to remove the furniture and boxes to home, as the girls had luckily found a short-term lease in a furnished apartment. No one was happier than us, since it meant only one rented truck schlep, not two. But when we arrived to pack up and hit the road, there was the palm tree: once again horizontal, bereft of a pot, and gasping for water and sunshine. “That’s it,” I said. “I’m taking this back to Chapel Hill.” And so I did. Within minutes of our arrival at home, I had (again) repotted this saddest of plants in a beautiful teal crock in our bedroom facing a sunny eastern window, watered its dried roots and plucked off its brown and desiccated leaves. I could swear I heard it breathing a sigh of relief as I set the pot in its new home. Within a couple of months, it had sprouted not one, not two, but three new branches, all of which have since grown out and produced their own sets of leaves. It now sports its own blue Starkler, too: it’s amazing what a little TLC will do. Know someone who deserves a little unexpected appreciation? Send them a Starkler: it’s guaranteed to make them smile.
My darling Dad was from Quincy, MA, and despite moving to Washington DC at age 22, right after WWII, he retained his strong and wonderful Boston accent his whole life. As children, we thought the vehicle in our driveway was a “cah”, and that at night we took our “bahth”. Every day, Dad would come home from work and ask all of us, “Did you get any stahs today?” Nothing made him prouder than school papers with a shiny star stuck to the top, with a “Good job!” or a “Nice work!” from a teacher. I think of this every time I make a Starkler, and every time I ship one out: I know it’s going to make someone smile. You can order a single Starkler packed up with a tiny notecard from you, or you can buy them by the box. To celebrate or to feel better or to “just because”, at one time or another, everybody needs a star. www.scarffish.com
Why is it called a Scarffish? It’s simple, really: my son, who was about 11 at the time (he’s now 21), found me knitting (again) and asked what I was doing. “I’m attaching some crocheted starfish to an old scarf,” I said. “I have no idea what it’s going to look like.” He looked at the scarf, and said, “Oh. It’s a scarf. With starfish. It’s a scarffish.” We just looked at each other. Simple.
What’s your favorite color? Mine has always been pink, although there was that period from about 13-18 when I painted huge purple and black stripes on my bedroom walls. I loved it. My parents, not so much. I never know what’s going to prompt a particular color combination for a Scarffish or a Moby. One day, about three months ago, I was driving from Chapel Hill to my favorite paper store, Not Just Paper, in downtown Durham. Rounding a bend on the road into town, I saw a perfect looking, tiny brick house. It looked like the painters had just finished, it was so fresh-looking. Slate gray brick with ice-white trim on the windows and edges, and then, as I passed it, there they were on the front porch: two fabulous, bright, lime green Adirondack chairs. It was instant inspiration, and my next stop after the paper store was to the yarn store for grey, lime green and white yarn. And here it is: the “Downtown Durham Cottage” Scarffish, inspired by real life. If you’re the owner of this house, contact me, and I’ll send you a Scarffish to match your beautiful home.
Happy new year! And we are starting the year off with a new design for Scarffish, along with a new scarf: we now have a fabulous infinity scarf, called the Moby. Scarffish, Starklers and the Moby (more on Moby later) are all available on Etsy and ready to ship.