Birds of All Feathers – a stranded and felted knitting design

Birds of All Feathers Bag, by Mary Ann Stephens, copyright 2009

Birds of All Feathers Bag, by Mary Ann Stephens, copyright 2009

The “Birds of All Feathers Bag” pattern is for sale as a downloadable, personal-use PDF through Ravelry.

The first time I was out in the world on my own, I encountered one particular problem: Apparently, I was too friendly.  I had grown up in a medium-sized upstate NY town where it had always seemed perfectly normal to smile and wave “Hello!” to anyone who walked by, whether you knew them or not.  Invariably, they’d at least wave back. Often, they’d stop to chat and we’d end up sweetening each other’s day, if just by a bit.

As I moved from my safe, sleepy hometown of Binghamton to my bustling college town of Baltimore, I was stunned to see peoples’ reactions to a simple “Hello!” Most anyone who had been leisurely strolling down the street, eyes on the horizon, suddenly quickened their pace, focused narrowly on their shoes and gave me a wide berth.  Some were terribly confused and asked “Do I know you?” And some definitely got the wrong idea altogether!

Eventually, I caught on, reigned in the “Hello!”s a bit and now even manage to live happily in frenetic, anonymous metro NY.   But I’ve always missed the open-hearted nature of Binghamton.  Since last April, that friendly hometown attitude has seemed a fading relic from a very distant past.

It was shocking to read the headlines of April 3, 2009: “Shooting Rampage Ends with 14 Dead in Binghamton”. It was such sad irony to see that this horror occurred at the American Civic Association of all places, a spot where birds of all feathers would regularly flock together. Recent immigrants of myriad backgrounds had been taking English classes at the ACA – some while they held down multiple jobs – as they worked to fit in and contribute to the local fabric. They were killed by a fellow student who had obviously lost his mind. It was so unfair!  More than that, to me, it became absolutely heartbreaking as I read that their slain teacher was none other than dear Mrs. King.

I think every Binghamtonian of my vintage knew Mrs. King.  She was mother of 10 bright, active, wonderful kids, including my old friend Beth, and you really couldn’t go anywhere around Binghamton without seeing Mrs. King’s van zipping here and there as she took the kids, and plenty of the rest of us, one place or another.  I first met her because she was my Girl Scout leader (and a wonderful one, at that!) Oddly enough, as busy as you’d think she must have been with 10 kids, she was also the one you were most apt to run into as substitute teacher here, volunteer there, chaperone yet again.  She was intelligent, enthusiastic and famously patient. She had a phenomenal memory, too. The last time I saw Mrs. King was at an old friend’s wedding.  Mrs. King hadn’t seen me for at least a decade, yet she reminded me of umpteen sweet, silly things from my childhood that I had entirely forgotten.  She even recalled and giggled with glee over some minute details of the fabulous (well, we thought so) department store diorama Beth and I had made for French class. I remember the delightful time we had building it, with Mrs. King’s abundant support and encouragement.  I suspect she remembered every project every one of her 10 kids ever did.  I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if she had remembered countless details of all of the thousands of us she touched – she cared that much! We’ll certainly always remember and be inspired by her.

No one could ever have more enthusiasm for a fun project than Mrs. King, and my old hometown could definitely use some enthusiastic support, so it seems only fitting that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my hopefully-tons-of-fun “Birds of All Feathers Bag” project will be donated to the Broome County United Way fund for the ACA victims in Mrs. King’s memory.  I hope you’ll join in the fun.  Thanks!


About twostrands

Traditional knitting with a colorful twist. Website =
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3 Responses to Birds of All Feathers – a stranded and felted knitting design

  1. Linda Mickelberry says:

    I think I posted in the wrong place… THIS is beautiful

  2. colin says:

    Yes, it is terrible what happened for all concerned. we all leave ripples and those ripples do collide at times in awful events like the one you describe.

    I say Good Morning or whatever to those i meet when I manage to walk the walk the dogs. I am often ignored or thought nuts. This is very small country town.

  3. twostrands says:

    Thanks, Linda! This post or that post, it doesn’t matter – I appreciate your sweet comment, wherever you put it.

    Colin, when those unfortunately small-minded people are rude to you, I hope you remember the countless ones among us all over the world that only wish we could have you and your adorable dogs brighten our mornings!

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