January 29, 2013

Landscape of a story, and the stories of a landscape

The scarf from my last post is finished!

This one took me two and a half months. Yikes. Part of this is because of the tension problems I had (I had to rip out the first eight inches or so to try to fix the tension once, but it did a strictly limited amount of good), which were infuriated and frustrating and made things really difficult. I eventually figured out how to deal with it on the fly (those knots from the last post), but even with that, it was a pain in the ass.

But it is finally done.

The original idea for this was simply to weave a scarf for my wife in rainbow colors and black. It morphed into something else entirely, in a very organic fashion. It became all about landscapes, curving shapes, color shifts, and transitions. In my mind, it grew into a series of snapshots of a quest out of a fantasy novel, or possibly science fiction; the last bit of landscaping had the bit from Heinlein about "We pray for one last landing/ On the globe that gave us birth/ Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies/ And the cool green hills of Earth."

It was as if an adventurer, finally venturing out of her comfort zone of home, saw incredible vistas and scenes that stuck with her all her life, bigger even than all the wonderful and terrible things that happened to her, simply because she always thought about places, about the land itself and the way it moves and lies, because she connects with that before and after all else. She returns home, and she tells her story again and again, but when she thinks about her journey, the images that come back to her again and again are all about the land and the sky.

This idea of a personal narrative being rooted in images of the earth rather than events connected for me with the way Literata talks about a landbase, and how having that kind of connection being centered in one's personal world changes how one sees other places as well. To me, the hero of the scarf had, like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins*, never been outside her landbase before this journey, and never had to think about her connection to the land before, but traveling made it really come home to her. She saw all these other places, and they were amazing, and they imprinted themselves on her for the rest of her life -- but each of them made her long for her own land again.

It's also a very narrative scarf. Obviously. So it's also about the power of stories, the infinite possibility in an outline of a story (how many different stories could be written about the journey sketched in that scarf?), and how the story in one's head can differ from the story as one tells it to others, and about how setting shapes a story.

I don't know what she'd think of the comparison, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual process of working on this reminded me of the way Elise Mattheson talks about the jewelry she makes, and what each piece is about, their names, how they tell her what they're about. I feel like there's a story in this scarf -- no, many potential stories in this scarf -- but I don't need to know them to create the scarf in a way that is true to those stories.

I posted a bunch about this scarf on Ravelry, but never really talked about any of this. It's a thing I find difficult to talk about in more secular spaces. Which is why I started this blog, really. I feel very deeply about my religion and my experiences, but I don't always feel very comfortable sharing the details of that. It's not, most places, that I feel unsafe talking about it, but more that I feel like it doesn't necessarily belong. Sex, politics, and religion are Not Polite Topics for mixed company, traditionally, but I'd much rather talk about either of the first two in public, unless I'm specifically asked.

There it is. A scarf that's the outline of a story, told in images of the places it takes you.

The next project will, I hope, be more literally literary, as in I'm planning on weaving actual words into it. If I can ever find the right prayer to Athena Ergane (Athena of the Works, her title as patron of crafts, particularly spinning and weaving). It will also have some of the first yarns I spun.

*And yes, the mountain is a reference to the Lonely Mountain, and that black spot on one side of it is a reference to the Back Door.