Improv Lace Knitting inspired of Sami song & the Minnesota dwarf trout lily
IMPROVISATIONAL LACE KNITTING
Last spring (2014), I attended an open mic evening at Sjømannskirken i nyc. Wonderful evenings, those open mic gatherings. The staff at the kirke (that’s “church” for the non-Norwegian-speakers who might be reading this😉 are quite a talented bunch of folks, fostering the spirit and also nurturing the music of the flock (n.b. word choice here could be a foreshadowing of upcoming mention of yarn…just saying’..), but, back to the evening of the open mic….
One of the performances featured some very special guests. In town for a performance at the Scandinavia House related to the exhibition Sámi Stories: Art and Identity of an Arctic People, Marie Boine and her band provided an element of extra magic to the open mic. I must admit, I was transfixed by their performance. It left my face wet and my heart in my throat. That word “transfixed” I’d never thought too much about it until typing it now and in this context…. it calls to mind being “transformed” and/while being in a “fixed” state/place. …. I’ll have to ponder that one further… but, back to that music… Hard to describe what music can do to a person. I can only describe the feeling (from a year ago, but it stays with me) as reaching down into my body and guts and grabbing hold of and shaking me in a way most visceral. THIS is what music can do to a body. And I DO mean “body” in its metaphorical sense as in “somebody” AND in it’s literal sense: the flesh body/house in which a spirit lives. Music vibrates/activates/agitates us (our human bodies) at the level of our very atoms. Sounding a bit dramatic? ha! ;-) It is those atoms that connect us to the each other, to the earth, to the drops of water, to the sky, and (here it comes) to the heavens.
So… enter (stage left) the knitting improv. After the concert, I had the chance to speak with the singer who left my face coated with tears. She’s quite something, the spirit she invokes. And that piece of jewelry she was wearing… wow! My mother has one in a similar style. But this Sølje had gold and silver and was large and caught and splayed out the light shining on it so that it scattered onto those standing in its midst.
That concert (and it’s atom-shuddering impact) stayed with me for quite some time. I began knitting the piece in these photos. Knitting during SyttendeMai in nyc, knitting on the plane to Minnesota, knitting and lacing the sun, the stars, the water, the lilies. By the time I got to MN, I had finished most of the water. It’s good exercise for the brain: knitting with linen (which has a mind of its own on how it intends to make a stitch, I like that it has a will), making up the lace work as you go (storing it in short term memory, 8 wedges of the circle at a time), and then repeating what might seem random, but is the result of some choices, perhaps related to innate…
When I knit, I sometimes set up parameters for myself (e.g., this will be about ….., this project will be done when I run out of those…. skeins of yarn, I bind-off when the plan lands…, etc.). In this case, my rule was to use the two skeins of yarn I had on hand (the gold and the blue). BUT… then I stopped in to Northfield Yarn and saw the most enchanting color of silver/grey/clouds on water/glistening salt-ish. That, I realized, was my third color.
I had thought that the knitting told me (yes, fiber DOES speak to us, just go with me on this🙂 ) to go from the sun, spiraling out into the waters, coming down to earth in the tumultuous waves of water and then the to dirt of the earth. But the knitting had a different idea: it was more water and in a different form, and then led me to what grows at the water’s edge (I tend to like things living in the land of the liminal). The pattern of how to finish that outer section came to me on a visit to the Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.
My brother, Mark Daehlin, is a painter. His work is exquisite. Some of the many gorgeous images that have come from his brushes is a series of paintings of the waterfall in that idyllic place. We took a hike there, and, for the first time, I saw the home and habitat of the Dwarf Trout Lily. It was not at that time blooming, so I had to rely on images for its inspiration to speak to me. But seeing from whence it blooms is a lovely thing indeed. That particular species of lily is found ONLY in that small area of Southern Minnesota (in all of the world). Due to several reasons, including its brief reproductive cycle, it is and endangered species.
While I do not claim that this knitting replicates the bloom exactly (only it itself can do that), it IS inspired of and by it. The bind-off is my own special invention (as with all inventions, no doubt someone else thought of it before, but I am not aware of that in this case) that revealed itself to my fingers a few years back. I find it to be especially suited to finishing the edge of a piece of lace knitting as it gives room for stretch (or not) and helps that infamously curling edge to calm down and be restful.