Monday, October 15, 2012

Bad Housewife, Episode 6: In Which I Knit & Read D. H. Lawrence

It might look like this.
Every fall I undertake a decorating project. I usually just collect a pumpkin and gourds and put them in a bowl.   There's nothing like gourds in a bowl to set the mood for a holiday dinner, and if you're feeling ambitious you can  eat the squash.

One year I made a wreath.  The brown fake twigs I was trying to bind kept shooting out of the the circle.  I intended to glue or staple a few pine cones on it, but it didn't work out for me.  The wreath is still stuffed in a sack somewhere in the basement.  It Was the Year We Didn't Have a Wreath.

This year I have a KNITTING project.  I am knitting bookmarks for everyone.  You will probably get one, too.

Here is the problem.  I have the yarn.  I have the needles.  But I don't remember how to cast on.

One year I took a knitting class.  There were 20 of us, some novices, others expert knitters. I always seemed to get to class late, so I sat in the back where I couldn't quite see what the teacher was doing.  "I have to go help Frisbee again," she would say to the student with whom she was talking about knitting the sleeves of a sweater.  I spent hours practicing at home, and learned to knit a scarf.

I suppose casting on will come back easily.  I've done it before, I can do it again.

And I have decided to make MY OWN PATTERN for a bookmark for the excellent reason that I don't know how to do a yarn-over.  I looked at many patterns online and they all call for yarn-overs.  The patterns tend to look like this:

Row 1:  k1, *yo, k2tog*, repeat from * to last stitch, k1

I can k(nit) 1, and I can k(nit) 2 together, but I cannot yo (yarn over).

I've tried to yo by watching a DVD, but I have this condition.  It's called Inability to Yo in Primates (ITYIP).  No one knows the cure.  You have to take steroids or something.

But I am sure my bookmarks will be gorgeous, once I get the hang of knitting again.

IN ADDITION TO KNITTING, I recently finished D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love.   Lawrence's language is poetic and richly symbolic, almost in the manner of a fairy tale, and he is bold both in his philosophy of love and his graceful employment of rhetorical figures of speech. There is much elegant repetition of phrases and sounds.  In the following passage about a character in a state of psychological transition, Lawrence emphasizes Gerald's emotions through prose rhythm :  anaphora in the first sentence, and assonance and consonance throughout the paragraph: "now," "nothing," "alone," "knowing," "long."

"But now he had succeeded--he had finally succeeded.  And once or twice lately, when he was alone in the evening and had nothing to do, he had suddenly stood up in terror, not knowing what he was.  And he went to the mirror and looked long and closely at his own face, at his open eyes, seeking for something."

Two sisters, Gudrun and Ursula, do not wish to get married. They are New Women, in the late Victorian sense of the term,  well-educated, independent feminists, who support themselves as teachers.  They wear yellow and green stockings, colorful coats, and hats--I am fascinated by the descriptions of their dress--and they fall in love, but do not want to be dominated.  Ursula is drawn to Rupert Birkin, a supervisor of the schools, and Gudrun to Gerald, an industrialist and mine owner.  In real life, Rupert was D.H. Lawrence and Ursula his wife, Frieda, while Gudrun was Katherine Mansfield and Gerald was J. Middleton Murry.

The question of marriage is absorbing.  Though this was published in 1920, I am sure many of us have had this conversation.

Lawrence is critical of the sisters.

"The two sisters were like a pair of scissors, snipping off everything that came athwart them; or like a knife and a whetstone, the one sharpened against the other."

That sentence might be a bit misogynistic, but the prose is dazzling.

Rupert thinks that marriage should be an ideal relationship that goes beyond sex--"sort of ultimate marriage"-- and that a man should also have an ideal relationship with a man.  Ursula thinks this is nonsense.  Gerald doesn't know what to think, but he and Rupert do some kind of Japanese wrestling.  And Gudrun, an artist, is cold--she despises Rupert and Gerald, though she has a relationship with Gerald.

Rupert is aligned with nature, and Gerald with industry and mechanization.  He is bringing new machinery into the mines, and the miners are raging.

Ursula has common sense as well as emotional spontaneity, while Gudrun prefers art and cannot align herself in a relationship with any man.

But Gudrun has her moments.  In one of the best scenes. Gudrun and Gerald are in a restaurant and hear a friend of Rupert's mockingly reading one of his letters about love aloud.  She goes up to the table and asks if she can see the letter.  Then she walks out with it.

It has been some years since I read Lawrence, and it is an absorbing experience.  One doesn't want to read anything else afterwards.


Ellen said...

The blog looks lovely. In a way more attractive than the wordpress set-up. I read _Women in Love_ in college. I just dislike Lawrence's fiction intensely -- so better not comment :). Ellen

Frisbee said...

It's always all right to comment about D. H. Lawrence.:)

I've gone through phases : sometimes he seems great, sometimes dreadful. I tried to read Aaron's Rod because it was the third of the Women in Love trilogy, and simply couldn't read it.

But his good is SO good.

Anonymous said...

D.H. Lawrence - where to start. I agree with the phases comment - I have had times in my life when I loved his voice, others when it was brutally cringe-worthy. I have a box full of his novels, including several versions of Lady C, which I occasionally peek into & tuck away again - reading them once has perhaps sated me forever, but I can't quite bear to give them away just yet.

Re: the bookmarks. Have you considred braiding the yarn? Stick a bead or two on the end, finish off with a tassel, and there you go. I cannot knit - this would be my not-terribly creative solution. I have spent my life surrounded by accomplished knitters - my mom, aunts, sister, daughter - even my husband - all knit complicated & creative garments. I have tried. Couldn't even achieve the novice scarf. Missing that gene.

Good luck! (Meant in the nicest way.)

Frisbee said...

Leaves and Pages, I can't believe I'm in a D. H. Lawrence fandom phase, but I am having to discipline myself to read other writers. I have a few books to finish up before I allow myself to read more D. H. I wonder if there's a D. H. discussion group online?

I love the idea of knitting, but haven't looked at that cast-on video yet. I don't know about me and braiding. That sounds even more difficult! But I must make at least ONE bookmark somehow.