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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Love. . . Snail mail

Photo credit: Contest entry by Kate and Hendrik www.eqcomics.com Source - google images
I really love "snail mail". There is something so special about being able to open a handwritten letter and know that the contents were written just for you. You can also include other tangible bits and pieces in a way that's impossible with e-mail and receiving a letter is such a lovely change from bills and junk-mail in the mailbox. 

I've had a very lengthy apprenticeship in writing letters. Of course, there were thank you letters every Christmas and birthday, and as well as that I wrote regularly to several friends during teenage years and upwards. For much of my childhood, my mum and I lived 100 miles apart, she didn't have a phone line and we used to diligently write to each other every week. Just telling each other the small details of our lives and including things like little drawings or poems or very occasionally an audiotape of us speaking to each other. Also, for years when I was a teenager and young adult in the UK, I wrote to a dear friend (VG) in Australia. There was no such thing as email and we didn't speak on the telephone as it seemed so expensive back then, but our letters would wing their way around the world, often "waving to each other at the equator" - it was uncanny how often our letters would manage to cross in the post! We built our friendship through letter-writing, not by any other means, after a chance meeting in Guernsey back in 1986. These two wonderful women gave me my apprenticeship in letter-writing - it was such a treat to be able to open the envelope, settle down and enjoy every word of the letter inside, then fold it up to savour again another day.

My mum continues the snail mail tradition to this day, writing weekly postcards to Sonny Jim. For me, email is so accessible (and yet, so impersonal) and long-distance phone calls are now within budget. But occasionally, I still dust off the fountain pen and write a good old-fashioned letter, and it is always a joy to write or receive one. Just last week I got a letter from my Australian friend VG, and it was as lovely as ever to hold her words in my hands, and to see that old familiar handwriting, which I have known for 25 years now. I started writing back to her yesterday - there is much to say. . .

Although letters have been largely superseded by emails, I have yet to fathom how the parcel post could possibly be replaced. Unless one day someone invents a contraption like the one in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book! Willie Wonka invented a "Wonkavision" machine which was able to break a chocolate bar down into tiny invisible particles and send it across the room, where it re-assembled into an edible bar of chocolate -  but even that needed some tweaking, as Mike Teevee discovered to his detriment!!  Imagine going to the "Post Office" and watching as your parcel de-materialised in front of your eyes, only to "magically" reassemble itself at its destination?!

Nowadays, I am lucky enough to receive occasional parcels of loveliness from various friends, and I like to do my fair share of sending them too. One very dear friend in Wales (K) has an uncanny knack of sending me a parcel at just the right moment, sometimes with British sweets and biscuits that I miss (like McVities' Jaffa Cakes or Trebor's Clarnico Mint Creams) as an added bonus. She also sent me the most incredible hand-knitted lime green shawl for my birthday in late January, just before I started up this blog. In the last couple of weeks I have received several parcels of knitterly goodness from far away. . . all sent through the traditional postal service rather than Wonkavision! First, I received some pretty little stitch markers and a stunningly beautiful skein of yarn from an English ravelry friend, S, whom I have never met in "real life":

Hedgehog Fibres "Ink" sock yarn

It's by Hedgehog Fibres yarns, and the colours are so beautiful, whilst it feels deliciously soft. It's from the same friend who knitted me the beautiful Julia socks I blogged about here.

Next, my handmade Artist's Edition "Knitter's Manifesto" package I had ordered from Brenda Dayne of "Cast On" podcast fame arrived. All the way from West Wales! I'll let the pictures do the talking. . .

A Knitter's Manifesto package

A Knitter's Manifesto package

Cast On "Knit Rail" ticket

Knitting Sound Diary

If you would like your very own limited edition package of handmade goodness from Brenda, check out her online shop here. Over there you can also buy a digital download of the audio "Knitter's Manifesto" or the wonderful Welsh for Rainbow collection of knitting patterns and stories from Pembrokeshire.

Last week, a surprise package arrived from some lovely Northland ravelry friends I have never met. When I opened the package it contained the Hap Shawl book by Sharon Miller which I have been lusting after since I began knitting my Hap Blanket - be still my beating heart! What a gift! Thank you so much P 'n' B!!

Shetland Hap Shawls

Finally, a lengthy letter from my old friend VG in Australia, including a Michael Leunig cartoon. He's a favourite of mine, ever since I was staying with VG in Melbourne back in the 1990s and became hooked on his cartoons/observations in The Age newspaper. Receiving a letter from VG took me back to the many years when it was our only means of communication, and our way of developing and sustaining a long-distance friendship which has thrived for 25 years. . .

I feel so lucky and grateful to have such kind and lovely friends, both old and new :) Despite the fact that "snail mail" is definitely outmoded, pushed aside by email and text messaging, I think I will always prefer it over email (even though, ironically, I send far more emails than letters now). I hope the postal service remains viable for a long time yet - I certainly plan on continuing to support it regularly, with hand-written cards, letters and parcels winging their way into someone's mailbox!


  1. Lovely post and great snail pic you found!

  2. What lovely gifts! Theres nothing like parcels of love in the post