women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Love to Tell the Story

"In the tale, in the telling, we are all one blood. Take the tale in your teeth, then, and bite till the blood runs, hoping it's not poison; and we will all come to the end together, and even to the beginning: living, as we do, in the middle."

Ursula K. LeGuin

When I was young, my mother read Uncle Wiggly stories to me. He was an old gentleman rabbit with many friends & great adventures. And each story ended with something like this:

"And now boys & girls, if you are good, tomorrow we will hear the story of Uncle Wiggly and the "whatever...".

Inevitably, this left me wanting, "Just one more, Mommy. Please?" The writer knew how to whet the appetite of young children and keep them coming back for more.

A little later in my life, the Indiana Jones movies came out and revisited the format of the serial movies of old with their cliff hangers and potboilers. You always wanted to know what happened next.

Today, we eagerly await the next installment of the Harry Potter series, or the Hunger Games, or Twilight. Before that it was Star Wars.

Or my favorite: Lord of the Rings.

There is something in us that loves a good yarn, that keeps us turning the next page, reading well past our bedtimes, lining up for midnight shows at the cinema. We chafe at the bit, we drool over spoilers, we want - no - NEED to know how it turns out.


Maybe because our lives are such a mystery to us. We don't know what comes next. We plan, we ponder, but ultimately God laughs. Our lives are not our own. Call it fate if you aren't religious.

All I know is on most of the momentous days of my life, I didn't see them coming.

I will admit to falling prey to several exciting narratives recently. I have been burning the midnight oil most nights, working on my designs.

While I knit I have been watching Dexter on DVD. What has impressed me most is how well crafted the plot lines are. Nothing is wasted. Every episode ends with a little cliff hanger of its own and each season finale neatly gathers in all the little loose ends & ties them up in one thrilling package. That is very good writing.

After I have toddled off to bed, I have unwound from the day's stimulating work with a murder mystery: "What the Night Knows" by Dean Koontz. It too is a page turner, with a surprise around every new development. When you are reading till 2:00 in the morning, you know it's good.

But the narrative that has totally held me in thrall this month is the evolving design of In Dreams ( the mystery shawl that kicks off with the first clue on Friday)

I decided months ago that I wanted the design for this piece to feature large motifs, rather than repeating small ones. I wanted it to unfold, rather than repeat. I wanted the increases to flow from within the pattern rather than adding one stitch at the end of each row.

I am now moving into the final section of design elements and it has been a great challenge. If I increase too much in one area the shawl begins to ruffle or forms a point rather than a semicircle. If I increase too little, the stitches pull.

Putting all the pieces of the story together has been a greatly stimulating endeavor to me. I cannot wait to get back to it each day. There have been many changes and false starts. But I have learned so much and enjoyed the process so tremendously. It has been a page turner.

I only hope you enjoy knitting it as much as I have enjoyed designing it.

The downside of this fascination, is the languishing of Argonath & Mithril. And my lack of responsiveness the past 3 weeks. I have been on retreat these past few weeks as I worked my brain around and around the unique problems of this design, looking always to making her the very best I have to offer.

Crafting a well coordinated pattern is much like telling a story. All of the pieces must fit together neatly and arrive together at the end. Each element must contribute to the enjoyment of the whole experience and the well honed beauty of the finished product.

Today, with clue 4 completed, I have forced myself to put In Dreams down and use the day to set up the database for In Dreams clue dispersal (Hurry up, Friday!) and catch up on my huge backlog of correspondence, here on the blog, in my home email account, and on Ravelry.

After those housekeeping tasks are completed, I will devote my time to the completion of Argonath (finally!) and get the pattern out into your in-boxes by week's end.

In Dreams is calling to me. Soon, it says...soon... but not yet...



Dzign by Jamie said...

Wonderful post. We have the same taste in books. I haven't read an Ursula LeGuin book in ages. If a book store was only a couple miles away I'd be there in 10 minutes to get one of her books!

Donna Lee said...

I love Ursula LeGuin and I love a good story. Funny, I'm listening to What the Night Knows now. It's good. I figure if it makes my heart beat faster it's a good book.

I don't know how you (or any designer) can take all those elements and turn them into such beautiful designs. I'm in awe (in the most true sense of the word). And yes, I can't wait for Friday!

Ebonraven said...

I am very excited for In Dreams (and Argonath and Mithril, of course.) I am taking a bit of a raod trip on Friday that was originally supposed to be on the train (so I could knit) and instead is now going to be driven (boo, hiss.) On the upside, I will have time to knit in the evening on Friday so that I can get started. This week, I wind my green laceweight into a ball, and on the way down to Oregon, I shall be stopping to pick up the gold and silver beads I want for the shawl.

Susan said...

A kindred spirit.. Uncle Wiggley..sigh.. I didn't think there was anyone else around who remembered him. The innocence of our youth...Waiting for my yarn to come so I can start my "In Dreams."
Thank you Susan, for the memory.