Today is January 28th, the last official day for the 13 Fridays project. Faithfuls Cattryn and Susan joined me for the W.O.W. group. Susan has been working with Sallie, who, with guidance from Susan finished a hat for herself today! Sallie is a master at coloration, and was very particular about the exact mix of colors and textures she used in the hat. It really turned out great. Piphany has made 2 purses out of the crocheted fabric she has made. She forgot them today, but I hope to post them soon. Piphany has been a real regular during our sessions and she is finally seeing the results of her work. Jeanne has joined us again, and she is a natural crocheter. She is making a white scarf with red stripes so she can visit her son in Reno. And Tillie is telling tales of her Emerge AZ experiences. Today, Piphany and Tillie began to reminisce about their childhood - the food they would eat, the gatherings they would go to, their mothers. A fellow popped in (which is unusual - the word is out that this is a "ladies only" group), but he had heard there was sewing going on. He asked if we could sew the buttons back onto his jacket, which me and Cattryn happily did for him. A familiarity seems to have set in.
Later, outside, I spent my last couple of hours as I began this project - working alone. I photographed the last group of hats that would be hung for the residents today and was greeted by familiar and unfamiliar faces - but always with enthusiasm for the hats free for the taking. Today, I finished a pure red hat, a special request from one of the residents. I had teased him in the weeks prior that I'd make the hat, but I'd probably never see him again. So as I finished up hanging the hats, leaving the all red hat off the line, I started to look around for my "special order" client. Sure enough, I looked over, and there he was. I called to him and held up the red hat. He told me his name was Mike, and he put the hat on right away.
I looked out over the campus, where I now feel strangely at home. I know I'm delusional - I still get to go to my car, and go home for the night. I cringe to think of what it would be like each night down here. But, when I began this project, I was nervous when I arrived here - unsettled and feeling very out of place. But as each week has progressed, a small space has been carved out for me to be here on Friday mornings.
I decided I would knit awhile on one end of the campus, then move to the other end, just to make sure the hat clothesline would be seen by more residents. I noticed one of our regular ladies - we all call her the Judge. She is sweet and polite - and when you speak with her, she engages with you when you speak. She always has lots of necklaces on, her straw hat, and she really looks quite dapper everytime I see her. But she usually sits alone - well she looks alone, but she carries on full, complete, and very interesting conversations. So I doubt that she is ever "alone". During the W.O.W. sessions, the Judge has her very own, unique style of crochet and she manages to make alot of fabric! Today, after our group session, there she was, sitting outside, sewing away. I walked over and noticed that she was using some of the "crocheted" ropes she makes to embellish a polka-dotted stuffed animal. So I sat down beside her, and just watched her, and listened to her for a while. I asked her what her name was and I think she said Erliss. But, I'm not sure. I like "the Judge" better anyway. She is just one of the gems I've come to recognize here.
There are several ladies we've come to know:
• Tillie, of course - our strong leader, but fragile at the same time
• Dee, a tiny sprite of a woman, who is a truck driver - against all odds
• Piphany, quiet, says "yes maam" when you talk with her - so proud of the purses she is making
• Jeanne, the kindest face you'll ever see - I hope she finishes that scarf and makes it to Reno
• Dana, 2 years homeless, kind, but still lost - sometimes just comes to sit with us
• Sallie, the fashionista, colorist, and regular at our sessions
• Marilyn, we lost her to a job - I guess that is a good loss to have
• Erliss, the Judge - content within her own world, but open to entering yours once in a while
• Rosalie, an amazing artist - I purchased 3 of her images
• Mai, a little Asian woman who came in the beginning - we see her, but not at W.O.W.
• Celeste, still on campus, but not a regular in the W.O.W. group
• Ruth Ann - she came once to crochet, really wish we could see her again
There's others whose face I would recognize if I saw them again - some I see regularly, others, I've spoken with and have never seen again: David, Charlie, Mike, Darrell, Jay, Robert, Dolores, Elisa, Maria, Mac, James, Jackie, Jenny and so many others whose name I don't know, but whose face I do.
There's the brave and kind knitters who have come to participate in this project:
Off site knitters:
A. Brooke Heuts
Thank you does not cover how I feel towards everyone who participated and expressed interest in this project. But I will say it - a sincere thank you to you all. I've learned so much from all the people and events that occurred over the course of this project. For now, I am processing these experiences with an eye toward future efforts. But, for now, my most immediate plan is to have lunch on Sunday with Tillie and discuss the possibilities.