Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bohemian Mama: A Scarf for Bonnie

My mom is an artist. I don't mean she dabbles in watercolors or quilting...She's never dabbled in her life! She's also quite Bohemian...but not BoBo (Bourgeois Bohemian). We've never had enough money to merit THAT unfortunate title, thank God. Nope. Just honest to goodness, old-fashioned Bohemian. She's also beautiful. See?(Bonnie and Hannah at Cafe Italia, May 2006)

When I was a little girl, she used to play the piano and the flute; she'd studied music and voice at Eastman School of Music, and played beautifully. My favorite was Moonlight Sonata. She'd sometimes play it downstairs after my sister and I went to bed...To this day, that haunting melody takes be back to the little townhouse the three of us shared in Hillsdale, Ca.

Around the same time, she was also producing a LOT of paintings. Her canvases could be found around the house in varying states of completion and dryness...I can still see, in my mind, a rather abstract painting of a tree, layers of dark and light paint spread like frosting, sitting on the kitchen counter with its top leaning against the cabinets. That particular work hung in my grandparents' home until they passed away.

About 15 years ago (or more!) she started working with clay. It didn't take long for pots to turn into sculptures. Winning aclaim from all who saw them, her gorgeous sculptures simply "fly off the shelves" whenever they're exhibited. Now she's working on a commission for the museum store at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento.

Meanwhile, in her spare time (ha!) she writes poetry, which has appeared in several journals over the past couple of years. Most recently, her wonderful poem "To a Daughter" appeared in Manzanita: Poetry & Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra (2006, Vol. 5). She said I was her muse--and I immediately knew the moment she had in mind :-) Its notoriously difficult to gain acceptance to Manzanita. But then again, my mom's an ARTIST. Did I mention that?

So when she mentioned a friend's Himalayan recycled silk scarf right before the holidays, I immediately decided to create something for her with the wonderfully soft skeins (from in my stash. The rich, dark colors glow quietly, sparked here and there with a painterly dash of bright sari pink, yellow, or turquoise. Perfect for my mom. And an idea for a pattern (of sorts) blossomed in my mind...
After casting on three stitches--I used Brittany birch straight US#7 needles--I worked in garter stitch, increasing until I had about 18 stitches total. The body of the scarf is corrugated in random stripes of stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch. I like the rough texture in the glossy silk, and it has the added benefit of not rolling up into a tube. At the other end, I decreased back down to three stitches, and for the grand finale I added the tassels. (Not a great photo, but I like the way it shows the texture.)

The tassels worried me a bit, because they happened to sit on my chest like a stripper's pasties--you know, those little nipple tasssels? But I'm taller, broader, and much bustier than my mother. She's tiny, like her mother was, and NOT "chesty." In fact, sometimes when my shoulders and upper back ache, I yearn to be built like her. Alas.

So I wrapped the scarf and shipped it out to her in January. She loved it, and wore it to the Art Museum the next day to show it off--she IS a mom, after all! Thankfully she didn't have tassels at boob level...they were just right.

Though, knowing my mom, I'm sure there must have been at least a LITTLE tassel twirling at some point during the day. There certainly was when I tried it on! Could any decent bohemian artist-woman resist?


1 comment:

KnitMOReANd said...

I enjoyed reading about your Mom memories. My mom's an artist, too; a fiber artist, rug hooker.

I like your stories. I'll stop by more often.

I'm new to blogging and am a newish member of the Eye Candy Friday participants.