Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Red Poppies and a Hand-Spun Sweater

Red poppies fill me up with joy. Just pure, rich, deep joy. The color fills up your whole body so you can't think about anything except beauty, and sun. When I was a little girl, my best friend Elsinore and I drew pictures of dresses made from poppy petals. We imagined wearing long skirts, red as blood, with black at the waist, all silk. I don't think it was just the skirts we longed for; it was to be part of a poppy, to know something of that furry stem, that strange green pod with it's sculpted nub, so tough for something so satiny and transient to emerge from. These photos are from the Greek island Kefalonia, of the species papaver rhoeas. I was visiting a couple weeks ago for my boyfriend's brother's wedding. The whole time was just like a red poppy— so beautiful it almost ached. Too beautiful to possibly try to cut and put in a vase and preserve that way. It has to live in the heart.

This is the first piece I've knit for myself in years. It's taken since last summer, on and off, because I spun the wool too, from local alpaca roving, thanks to Ken and Julie Rosenfeld of Renaissance Ridge Alpacas. There are so many stories nestled into this sweater, from all the hours I sat at the wheel daydreaming out the glass doors of our Berkeley apartment, listening to the birds or to Radiolab or thinking of nothing at all except the click and hum of the wheel, my hands feeding the wool just so, gently, maintaining an equilibrium so that really the alpaca wool, like fog, spun itself. I knitted the sweater in our living room, on BART, on a cliff above Muir Beach, in the sun, while it rained, at work on my lunch break, by the fire in my childhood home across the Bay while having dinner with my parents, in the garden under the little Japanese maple tree. When I wear it all of these places are present, and the strength of knowing the potential of my own hands (and all of our hands), and the miracle of ungulates with soft wool that can be easily spun. Where would we be without them?


  1. Thank you for visiting woodbird, Sylvia, and for the kind words. And oh do I love poppies, though I can't seem to make them love it here in my rocky soil...

    1. Yes, what is it about poppies? Good luck getting them to grow, and thanks for visiting this new thing of mine. :)

  2. Amazing. I've been drooling over this sweater for a while. I understand what you're saying about the sweater holding every place and moment while you were working on it.
    Did you make this pattern up or is this a published pattern?