A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stitchy McYarnpants

Today I drove up to Hadley to hear Debbie Brisson, a.k.a. Stitchy McYarnpants, talk about her new book, The Museum of Kitschy Stitches. Deb is a Boston woman with a husband and a job in IT; Stitchy, on the other hand, is a passionate collector of the most bizarre and tasteless examples of knitting and crocheting patterns and pieces you ever did drugs for a decade to forget about.

Through the magic of ebay, Debbie has been able to collect more crocheted clowns, granny-square tea cosies, rainbow-hued acrylic ponchos, and pompom-infested hats than she otherwise could have managed in six lifetimes of pawing through piles at yard sales, curbside on trash day, and the Goodwill. So in addition to speaking about her book and signing copies, she dragged in an entire trunk full of some of the highlights from her collection. My favorite was a knitted yarmulke, with a touching note to the recipient still attached. Obviously, the gift had never been worn. (It was unanimously agreed by the audience that its owner must have converted to Catholicism upon receiving it.)

That's a crocheted cap on the podium, made from squeaky acrylic yarn and sections of Budweiser beer cans. The item Stitchy is holding up is not vintage--it's a granny-square cover custom-made by a friend for the book itself. Nice touch, no?

Sara the bookstore lady is modeling a poncho from her own collection. It was made for her by her step-mother's mother, "to be treasured always, and handed down to your children." Note the lumpy fit, the garish colors, the draggly fringe, and the properly pointy hood--all features of your high-kitsch piece.

There were no men present, and noone who was not an avid knitter, except for me. I do knit a little; one of my resolutions this year, in fact, is to finish my knitting projects. And being in the presence of all those knitaholics--a very jovial and engaging group, btw--not to mention all those completed projects, did make me want to get out the needles again.

Sara told me about a knitting group which meets weekly in the store, and about other, similar groups at other bookstores in the area. They're free, ongoing, and not classes. Just a bunch of knitters who get together. Little House on the Prairie and all that. And, of course, the experienced knitters are always willing to help the newbies. That might be a good way for me to fill up some of that spare time I can't figure out what to do with.


Blogger Elaine Frankonis said...

I linked over from your post at Blogsisters. I think I'm going to buy that book as a present for myself. I'm somewhat familiar with Springfield; my daughter and family live in East Longmeadow.


11:59 PM  

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