La méduse: Jellyfish
I have been inspired by jellyfish, or, more accurately, by a knitted jellyfish on a preschooler’s BBC program. Sarah and Duck is written for 3 and 4 year olds, but everyone in our family has become attached to the soft-spoken girl with her unique world and friends of all ages and interests. There’s “plate girl,” who carries a dinner plate with her instead of a lovey; “scooter boy” who lives atop a stEEEEEEEEEp hill and is afraid of falling and getting hurt, though he is always on his scooter; “John and Flamingo” who live in a house that is complete with a navigation room and a spot where they go “to stand on one leg”… and my favorite friend of Sarah’s: The Scarf Lady.
Since Youngest Garçon and I watch an episode with breakfast every morning, we have learned about scarf lady’s knitted roof, her wool room, and her yarny pet who she feeds “all the wooly leftovers” to. She always has knitting needles in her hand, and a project in the works. Anything from costumes for shallots who are planning a circus performance to something she aptly named a “Tree Warmer” to cover her Wooly Willow in the front yard, where she gets the roving for her spinning and dyeing machines that make balls and balls of yarn for her wool room.
Once, while the city bus drove into the bottom of the sea to recharge on seawater (Of course! You didn’t think it used gasoline, did you?) scarf lady made a jellyfish hat for duck.
Seeing a character on a TV show knit is not unusual, nor particularly inspiring by itself. So what is it that make me want to create?
Originality. Experiencing thoughts, ideas, and creations that are original are inspiring to creators. I see something created and marvel at how someone’s mind came up with the concept. It’s like when I am listening to a string quartet or symphony play a piece that I’ve performed with my cello– I am stirred from within to create and be part of that great wave of inspired art. I grab my cello and pull out my sheet music to play along to the recording, becoming part of a greater whole in the world of people who are inspired and who inspire each other. Seeing what others create makes me want to be original too.
One of my favorite websites is Ravelry. It is, as my Mari says, like Facebook (but better!) for knitters. Ravelry functions to create a community of inspiration and inspired ideas for all levels of knitters and crocheters. The name of my blog, Tricotlore, meaning stories told through knitting, comes from my Ravelry username. I came up with the username when I was one of the many testers for the beta site Ravelry (before they made it publicly accessible). At first, it was by invitation only that you could become a member of Ravelry. This beta site was so successful that the creators soon had to hire some staff and get things going for real. It has grown since that time to become a common vocabulary word for knitters, most of whom are “on Ravelry.” Instead of requesting to join, you can now simply create an account and begin exploring the site. One of the features allows you to search for a pattern, like a jellyfish hat.
A pattern search for “jellyfish” yields 198 different jellyfish patterns. Everything from amigurumi toys to bags to earrings have been created and designed for knitters to show their interest in jellyfish. Choose to narrow that search, and you will find that there are 6 different patterns for making a jellyfish hat, and only a dozen or so people have made such a hat. Even made from the same pattern, no two are alike. Differences in yarn choices, colors, and sizes of details have made each one a creation inspired by the knitter who decided to make this unusual item.
These jellyfish hats remind me of the individuality that I am trying to discover in myself. I created a jellyfish hat without using a pattern; I didn’t even realize there would be patterns for jellyfish hats. It never occurred to me to look at others’ ideas for inspiration. In fact, if I had known there were patterns, I wouldn’t have used them anyway, because I would have felt like I was cheating my own creativity. So, I started off on my own. Ribbing to keep it snug around the head, quadrupling the number of stitches suddenly above the brim to achieve jellyfish-like “poofiness”, a few cables reminiscent of bubbles, and a bunched-up top with sea-foamy novelty yarn…
But the image that was so clear in my mind still wasn’t what I was seeing in the project…it just looked like a poofy striped hat. I still needed tentacles, eyes, and personality, so I searched my books. I found some curlicues for pigs’ tails that could work, but they were too thin… Then, I talked to other knitters and found inspiration for creating wider curly tentacles (actually arms), and did research online to discover what jellyfish really look like, which inspired me to add small braids for tentacles. Younger garçon and I found the perfect “eyes” in my button jar, and the collaboration was complete. As was the metaphor for how I seem to do things. Sometimes, I forget to look around me to gain my inspiration for life. I forget that we are not solitary creatures, we don’t need to do this alone, and the exchange of information doesn’t diminish creativity, it adds to it. Getting ideas and help from others doesn’t weaken, it strengthens. (These are such clichés, and seem so obvious, but still seem to escape me).
By choosing my own path, doing what works best for me, inspires me, empowers me, and fulfills me: these are the things that create MOI. I search and watch others for inspiration; patterns to use to create my life. I rewrite the pattern to make it Moi-sized. I narrow the search paramaters to include only specific choices that fit my personality, my goals, and my passions. I choose my textures, colors, threads, fibers, and put all of these into a knitted masterpiece called La Vie. These choices make me Qui je suis, and, petit à petit I am who I choose to be through what I show is important. What is important in my life? What is important in my heart? Is my time being spent where I place the most value? Is my energy being used in a way that makes my life the positive influence I hope it to be?
I value creativity. I value learning. I value family. I value love.
I will use energy to create every day. To create something, yes, like a knitted jellyfish hat, but also to create someone: Moi, through the choices I make to live each day with Creativity, Learning, Family, Love, and everything else that makes my life full of joy and makes me who I am.
Oh, and I’ll keep watching Sarah and Duck. Because you can never have too many sweater-wrapped trees or Jellyfish hats. I’ll meet you at the bottom of the sea next time we take the bus.