Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Much Ado About Mittens
I had a plan when this winter began. I was going to knit mittens. I was intrigued with mittens. Selbuvotter had caught my eye, and I was fascinated with the intricate designs on the backs and palms of these mini canvases. These mittens really seemed to express personality - Poetry Mittens, Squirrels, abstract designs - and I saw myself making gift mittens, mittens that would be my personal Hallmark card. My messages through my mittens would be as clever as a fortune cookie, or perhaps as abstract as cave paintings, or modern day graffiti.
The text of Selbuvotter described the mating rituals that became attached to the making of these mittens - tokens of affections, signs of friendship, talents at domesticity; Value as a wife and life partner were attached to these mittens. Oy the pressure!
So, I freaked out . . . no mittens!
But, the freak out period passed, and I returned to my Anemoi Mittens. I started these mittens back in October, and returned to them partly out of affection, once again embracing the mitten as an artform, and partly out of necessity - I lost my third pair of gloves this winter, and my hands are cold!
So, now they're done, so pretty I could put them in a picture frame. And, I've worn my mittens for a day now . . . and you know, they're just not that practical. I reevaluated the mitten.
Why talents as a wife, or a homemaker, or a lover, or a friend, or a sister or a daughter, were ever attached to the ability to make something so impractical is really quite astonishing. You can't do anything with a mitten on - can't juggle your coffee, the newspaper, your files and your keys. Can't change the song on your iPod. Can't drive, probably, although I wouldn't know about that. So, then I started thinking - it can't be the finished product that had value - but the process.
And looking at my bemittened hand, I became more enamored with my mittens.
There was a time, and a place, and a prevailing attitude that had such a respect for the process of knitting, and the act of creating, that courtships would rise and fall, marriages would be decided, and friendships would be sealed. A sonnett - where design, tension, color were valued as much as rhyme, meter, and metaphor.
Which brings it all back to me - my mittens will not be hallmark cards, or tokens of affection - only another knitter could read the love, affection, loyalty, commitment knit into every stitch in this day and age. And, since I'm not gifting mittens to all of my fellow knitters (sorry my dear Rosie's friends!), I'm just going to have to make them for myself, and my mitten art will decorate the world, but perhaps not speak to it in a way that asks for acceptance, or love, or appreciation, or conveys the same. Judge not my mittens! But, you can tell me they're pretty though!