Sunday, 13 January 2013

Brittle autumn leaves

The inspiration for much of what I have knitted lately comes from childhood and adolescent memories. Many of the older memories have been very clear to me lately.

I've always been fascinated by what I remember and what I forget. It's not always the memory of big events that are clear in retrospect. Sometimes it's the small things; such as the cool zipper on my jacket and the dandelions under the porch, from my very first childhood memory from when I was a little over a year. Or the light on the pier of my grandparents' house on Furuholmen outside Kragerø, when I was five and needed to go to the outhouse one summer night in the early 70's.

I have always thought that memories are like brittle autumn leaves. There are two types: those who fall down into large piles on the roads and lawns, and those who stick on to the twigs. The majority of leaves are of the first kind. They hold their shape for a while, but soon go to pieces and become a shapeless mass, and one can no longer distinguish the fragments of various leaves.

The second type is more rare, and may be found on the winter oak and on my neighbour's hedge (see photo at the left). These leaves stick on the twig throughout the winter although they are brown and dead, and do not fall down before new shoots come out the next spring. Such memories are almost as clear today thirty-five to forty years later, and I can still remember the smell of cats giving birth and freshly baked cookies. I have always believed that happiness is easier to find if there is a majority of good memories among the leaves of the winter oak.

When I was visiting London during the fall of 2011, I bought a beautiful silk and mohair yarn called Alchemy from Haiku. I bought different colours of this yarn and have knitted several shawls with it, including "A sensation of the forest." I also bought three bunches in a green brown colour (127e-strange fruit) that reminded me of autumn leaves that have fallen to the ground. I have thought a lot about old memories lately, and ended up knitting this shawl. In the centre of the shawl, I used an Estonian leaf motif called the birch leaf pattern. I have modifyed it slightly, so that it fits the shaping of the shawl. The bottom border is from another Estonian pattern, which I also found in Nancy Bush's book "Knitted laces of Estonia". It is the same pattern as in "The Crown Prince shawl".

This shawl is very easy to knit, but beautiful in all its simplicity. I do not know why all these old memories have come up recently. Maybe it's me being annoyed about becoming middle-aged or the associations I get when I am making all these shawls. Who knows. It is really not that important. For me, the important thing is that they give me the inspiration to create things. So maybe something good comes out of the fact that my body is withering away like brittle brown autumn leaves.


  1. This is absolutely beautiful and so inspiring.
    with kind regards,