Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy
After reading Little Women as a kid, I wanted so much to be like Jo March, I began climbing up the willow tree that grew in front of our house with a book to read. It seemed a very Jo March thing to do--either that or dashing to the attic to write another poem. We didn't have an attic in Modesto, California, so the willow tree had to suffice. Jo always had an apple in her pocket, and she'd munch on it as she read. Of course I brought an apple along with me up the truck of the tree, even if I wasn't much of fan of apples.
It turns out that reading a book while precariously perched along a skinny willow branch is not all that comfortable. I usually couldn't read more than a few pages before my legs went numb. And the blasted apple I'd dragged up the tree with me, it would inevitably slip and fall onto the driveway below.
Reading from a tree may not have been as romantic as it sounded in the book, but I did manage one adventure while in my hidden perch. Once two neighbor ladies walked under my tree, gossiping about how crazy our family was. One said, "Can you believe they actually have seven children. SEVEN!!?" The other rolled her eyes in agreement. I nearly threw my book at them, the nerve! Instead, they never knew I was listening--because I couldn't come up with a comeback line before they walked away. I rehearsed witty replies for weeks afterwards.
Anne from Creating Text(iles) has mentioned feeling like one of the March sisters while knitting, and I can relate. In fact, watching the 1994 movie version of the book with Wynona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst is PrairieTide holiday tradition. My sisters and I consider this our "Theme Movie," and we've all picked out which role we'd play in the story. Give that I'm the oldest sister, that probably makes me bossy, proper Meg instead of fun-loving Jo.
As an undergraduate, one of my favorite classes was on 19th century sentimental literature. This was a class where we read lots of Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Willa Cather. The point of the class was that books written by women for the primarily a female audience have been undervalued over the years because they are considered too weepy or too sugar-sweet. Instead, we spent the class examining the strengths of the books--the portrayal of a domestic world that is easy to dismiss because it is familiar. To see the value in sentimental literature from this era, you have to value of the female experience.
So, in tribute to the March sisters and the domestic realm, I present "everyday use" knitting. Behold, a sock:
One sock, two socks. Red socks, blue socks.
I'm knitting the sock without much of a pattern, just trying it on as we go and using my general sock knitting know-how. The yarn in Reynold's Swizzle. While I like the stripes, the yarn is giving me fits. (It seems everything I'm knitting is getting on my nerves of late.) When the yarn slips off the tips of a needle, it becomes very temperamental and pouty--stubbornly resisting the need to return to the needle. I'll have to continue the search for the perfect sock yarn. In the mean time, I've turned the heal and am making steady progress towards the toe. Marmie would be proud.