Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cowl Is Almost Done

And I am itching to knit some lace.
(The socks are just a row or two past 6 inches—progress—but nothting special)

I have lace weight yarn by mile, by the hundred miles—Wool and mohair, cashmere and silk,(an embarrassing richness of silk). In white(2 skeins, last week!) and cream, blues, and pinks, peach tones and greens and browns--from the palest toast, to rich dark chocolate. In solids and hand painted pastels, in gaudy red and navy (should I over dye it?)-- and yet—I hesitate.

Does any one remember Nixon's Checker's speech? (It's ancient history now—and almost funny—Tricky Dicky talks about his Republican (as in GOP) values, and Pat Nixon's “good cloth coat” (vs a mink coat). (the comment is about half way through-- few paragraphs above the Hiss link if you don't want to read it all—the video is just part of the text)

He's not the only one to value a good cloth coat. Malachi and Frank McCourt did a great skit some years ago, about old biddy's gossiping—As props, they each wrapped themselves in hand knit shawls—a few shawls—one as a head scarves and a few others over their shoulders. (I googled to see if I could find it—I was at a live performance--others were taping it—but couldn't )
As biddies, they were mocking a woman (like Angela McCourt) who was very uppity—wearing a coat out and about to the shops and other places. -(and not wrapped in a shawl)--and listening to them, was like listening to maternal aunt and other relatives gossip.

I am sort of caught in-between. My mother, or Nana, or aunts, wouldn't be caught dead in a shawl—a shawl was a mark of poverty, and being lower class. No, they thought like the Nixon's—for them, a good cloth coats was just the thing.

Sweaters, yes, but fine knit ones--(I remember a favorite sweater—soft yellow wool—knit about 8 stitches to the inch!) or maybe an Aran –after the Clancy Brother's made them so very popular—circa 1960—with their first American tour –they appeared at Fordham University—most of there concerts were at universities and colleges on that first tour.

I still have the Aran my Aunt Gay (Gabrielle) knit for me when I was 16--(I am not quite the reverse (61) but close to it!) I don't (never did) wear it much—it's too warm for me--but it, too is knit with finer weight yarn--DK --not the heavier than worsted now commonly used. My mother had an Aran coat, too, but it was a casual coat—good for taking my sister to the park, or some small (grocery) shopping and what not—but never worn to church or any place important--and even a doctors appointment rated as important.

But there weren't any shawls. No siree, we were on our way to being middle class, and we wore coats!

I am quite convinced my mother –in sort of a reverse “it you build it, they will come” magical thinking—didn't want her children to knit or sew. She wanted us to be middle class, and buy good cloth coats, and not wear home knit, or sewn clothing.

It was as if, not knowing how to knit would insulate us from having to knit. But—being perverse—I wanted to knit—and learned to knit (with almost no instruction except watching) and I learned to sew, too.

Now, it's quite popular to knit shawls—There are books, and blog's and excitement about making a shawl like the one in the movie Jane Eyre. Every week some knew pattern is released –like this one from Joyce—(Joyce used to be part of my Tuesday knitting group—but CUNY keeps scheduling her to work Tuesday evening)

I like lace, and knitting lace, and I like fine yarns, but somewhere—in the back of mind, there is an old biddy, wrapped in a hand knit shawl—who mocks me.

I am too middle class (in my demure, semi poverty); too far from the ancestors who had to wear hand knit shawls.

I don't go anywhere fancy—where a lace shawl might be considered an acceptable bit of luxury.

For every day, I do have coats (well one trench coat with a zip in liner—that's rarely worn—most coats are to warm for me!) and jackets (lots of jackets, in denim, in fleece, in suede, and cloth!)--So much more practical in the car and the subway. I even have long hooded Kinsdale cloak (rarely worn, but oh so wonderful!) I even have some sweater jackets (not hand knit). Who am I fooling wanting a shawl, wearing a shawl?

But my nose has been snooping in Knitted Lace of Estonia, and in North Sea Knits, Victorian Lace, and A Gathering of Lace. Yarn is calling out to me. My fingers are itching to knit lace.

Trouble is--I always start well--but I am not so good at creating FO's! Well maybe this time will be different.

1 comment:

JelliDonut said...

What a great post! Very enjoyable to read. Isn't it funny how attitudes about knitting and sewing have changed?