Thursday, October 09, 2008

Four Cats and A Fascinator

I have some serious things on my mind--a serious short story, the financial crisis gobbling up what little money I had on two continents, a freelance contract with the time ticking and the scope galloping, and a deadline for my fiction writing, so I am going to write a wee post about knitted cats and the foibles of British fashion.

I recently read a great novel (Writing in the Sand by Angus Dunn) and at one point when the universe is in danger of falling apart, three characters take up their knitting--the logic was impeccable--anything that increases the coherence of the universe at that perilous moment would help the universe and--as the character explained, it would help them think. I am convinced that I am saving some part of the universe when I pick up my needles, and, if not, it helps me think about hard things while my hands do easy work.

Now if I have some knitting project that requires mastering more of the arcana of the craft then I cannot think about the other hard things. In that case, I am running away and hiding in the yarn. That has its merits, too. I almost always have several knitting projects that do not require such concentration on the go for the same reason that women (and men) have done so. There are times when you just have to wait for someone or something to happen and in those moments you can knit.

Shetland women are famous for managing to do their complex pattern knitting on the go by inserting needles into a little leather pouch worn on a belt as they walked and watch children or cattle or sheep. I don't think I will ever get there as a knitter. My nearest approximation was the day I had to stand in the driveway just to dissuade any cattle who might make a wrong turn on their way from the field to the barn. I stuck my little ball of brown yarn in the pocket of my giant cardi. As I stood in the gate waiting for the sound of the hooves pounding around the corner, I knitted a few more rows. The wind--a gentle breeze on that day--caught the trailing yarn and arced it out away from cardi at just the right tension. I knit until the clatter of hooves demanded all my attention.

Like most knitters, I rarely follow a pattern exactly. I picked up a pattern for one of those "Calling all knitters" charity events for tiny teddy bears and decided in an instant that I would make cats instead and that I would make them for all the great nieces coming for a family wedding. Because I put the pressure of a deadline on the poor hapless cats, it became another deadline driven moment in my life rather than a saving the universe meditational moment--until yesterday.

Supecting that children, being children may lug these cats around by their tails.I decided to put a little bit of fusible interfacing --reinforcing material--on the inside of each cat where the tail and the body are attached. I did this yesterday just before flying out the door with my husband to the AGM of a local history society. When I got home and saw the cats lined up obediently on the ironing board with their rumps in the air, the coherence of the universe came flooding back into me. It was impossible to take these guys too seriously.

So that's four cats. Here's the fascinator--I'll find some photos if I can. I may even post one of me in the particualr article after the wedding. A fascinator, as I learned, is the littel proto-hat with odd feathers and beads and bows of various material stuck on a comb or a clip or a little hatlet base. When I first saw them--before I even knew the word--I was astounded at how silly they were.

When I learned they were called fascinators, it occurred to me that perhaps it was something somehow derived from the times of the empire in India learned from the cobra tamers--something like they used to captivate the attention of the cobra. I chuckled at my own little idea until I sat behind a woman at a wedding with one of those fascinators. It had feathers that quivered in the slightest breeze--it was a drafty church, so there was a fair bit of quivering--and coils of ribbon looped back upon itself. If we had not been obliged to stand up for the bride, I might have been fascinated into a hypnotic state.

Perhaps as a defensive maneuver--a counter hypnotic trancing device, or perhaps because the hat the woman first showed me looked so like a scene from Alice in Wonderland with me as the Mad Hatter, I now own my own fascinator. I was told it looks perfect with my dress--a story for another day.

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At 5:51 PM, Blogger TerriRainer said...

I loved hats as a teen, but they were never really "en vogue" in Oklahoma, mores the pity!

I never got the hang of knitting, although I mastered crocheting as a child of 9 or 10, I just never seem to make the time for it.

:) Terri

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I'd love to see you in your dress and fascinator. I'm visualizing somewhat fuzzy swirls of intermingled emerald green, a dark rich turquoise, and purple.

At 5:15 AM, Blogger scorrie said...


At 7:57 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hats are great fun but I have the hypothesis that hats and windy places don't mix too well.
My hats up here are usually something wooly that lies close to my head. Not much of a fashion statement to work with in that!

At 7:58 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

I'll send photos. Morris has not seen dress yet so I must not give any clues away.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

I adore hats and have worn quite serious ones at multiple junctures in my life.

I was amused to be told once that dangling earrings have the same impact on a man as on a cat - their eye is irresistibly pulled to the slight motion, but unlike a cat, from there to the curve of cheek and throat. Sounds like the hat "fascinators" pull the same trick.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hmm, Hayden, I never thought about that aspect of fascinators. Interesting.
I do love hats, too. When I see them on other people I admire them but rarely have I been brave enough to wear one. On the occasions I did I thoroughly enjoyed it.

At 3:20 PM, Anonymous amipggy said...

In fact, you're wearing a hat in your photo.


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