Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The half-colours of quarter things...


Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms. ~Ikkyu Sojun

I'm sorry that 2 weeks have gone by without an update. I've been away... in Portland, which I love... (more on that later).

Today, I am back on the East coast, sitting by my window, trying to nurse my under-watered African violet back to life and thinking about the subtle colour of a coastal spring.

"In the same way, you were happy in spring,
With the half colors of quarter-things,
The slightly brighter sky, the melting clouds,
The single bird, the obscure moon-

The obscure moon lighting an obscure world
Of things that would never be quite expressed,
Where you yourself were never quite yourself
And did not want nor have to be ..."

- Wallace Stevens, The Motive for Metaphor

a few days ago, members of the Rockin Sock Club 2010 from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, received their Spring shipment of the surprise yarn. It has been very controversial...

SPOILERS BELOW - Do Not read further if you are a member and want your package to remain a surprise. I have photos and descriptions below.

The controversy, it seems, arose first from the fact that the Spring skein was what is called a Spirit: a faintly tinted yarn with just the essence of colour, and second from the fact that some people received a faintly tinted pink version just like this:


and some people received a faintly tinted cream or pale yellow version, like this:


and, from descriptions, some few people received a skein that had absorbed no colour at all...

For me, the skeins - in all their permutations, as you can see - were exactly like the Sweet Peas in my garden. I could see the dyer's hand in their design, and appreciate the inspiration.

A profusion of pink roses bending ragged in the rain speaks to me of all gentleness and its enduring.
~The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams

I say that from the perspective of someone who received a skein that has more visible colour and that I love.


I do understand the very real disappointment of a sock club skein that seems - to the receiver - to be inferior to that which others received and that you really, really dislike for that reason. I felt that way a few months back and made a royal fool of myself in the posts (for which I was soundly "disagreened" by my group-mates). Now I am more sanguine, and I can tell myself that if I don't like one, I'll like the next; that I can de-stash at will (though I've never been able to bring myself to de-stash a BMFA skein, whether I liked it initially or not); and that I can order another and ask the lovely folks at Blue Moon to pick out a skein for me with "more pink" or "less yellow", which they are always happy to do.

The arrival of a yarn club package or an order is a highly anticipated event, fraught and weighted with a myriad of emotions only barely related to the yarn itself. Yarn packages assuage loneliness and replace company, they substitute for the doctor's home visit and bedside manner, they calm raw nerves and sooth grief for a time... they encourage overworked mothers and reward over-stressed workers. We all want to open that package and find a bouquet of flowers and I think that our disappointment is commensurate with our emotional expectations.

My heart goes out to those who were disappointed this month and I hope that they find happy homes for their yarn and substitute it for themselves with another colour they like better.

"Happiness? The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone. That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf. ... The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch. Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. - this mindless simplicity can be called happiness."
- Frances, Mayes, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, 1999


"In these divine pleasures permitted to me of walks in the June night under moon and stars, I can put my life as a fact before me and stand aloof from its honor and shame."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals

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