Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Knit Your Own Life

Now that the big royal wedding is exactly one month away, there’s a big part of me that wants to get this really cute new book, Knit Your Own Royal Wedding, for Mother’s Day for my mom, who’s a knitter extraordinaire and a casual royal family follower. But there’s an even bigger part of me that’s worried I might wake up on Christmas morning only to find a box under the tree with my name on it filled with the whole soft little yarn-y royal family, complete with knitted pet corgis (!), all smiling blankly up at me.

Like Mom, I’m a casual royal family follower, but unlike her and nearly all of the women on Mom's side of the family, I never caught the knitting bug myself. It’s a useful skill to know how to knit hats, socks, sweaters and the like, all very functional, practical, warm things, especially for a family who spent nearly all of their time either right next to or on the cold Atlantic Ocean. I’m more interested in cute knitted toys, which I’ve never tried to make myself but I am aware that they have become hugely popular crafts generally. The Japanese call the craft of knitting or crocheting stuffed toys amigurumi and the point is really just to make something cute rather than useful, much like the knitted royal family.

It wasn’t until I saw the Knit Your Own Royal Wedding book that I remembered the big, stand-up clown doll that my Nan, my mother's mother and another knitter extraordinaire, knitted me and other kids in the family when we were younger. When Nan asked me to choose which style of clown I wanted from her pattern book, I naturally chose the foodie clown:

Foodie Clown

Although the ice cream sundae on top of his hat is now sagging from age, the separate knitted string of sausages that I always kept wrapped around his neck have held up quite well. That's a banana in his right hand and a pie in his left. I can knit very basic things, but I've always been in awe of this level of knitting skill--I just never had the patience to get to the string-of-sausages level. After doing some searching online, I found the Jean Greenhowe Designs site and I see that she has a lot of cute toy patterns. Maybe it's time I picked up those needles again.

OK, back to the royal family. I can remember when I was little I would read (or rather look at the pictures in) my mother’s coffee table book about Charles’s and Diana’s wedding, complete with photos of each step of the elaborate preparations. The last time I was in Florida in 2009, Mom and I visited a Princess Diana exhibit in Downtown Disney called “Diana: The People’s Princess.” They had sections set up around the venue from different times in her life that you could walk through, and each section showed various artifacts, letters, and dresses alongside biographical information about Diana. My favourite part of the exhibit was the piece of Diana’s actual wedding cake that was kept behind a glass case, a small slice of dark fruit cake with white icing.

As a sidenote, after 28 years, I don’t know if that slice of Diana’s cake was as good as the small, slapped-together fruitcake that I made on Saturday which, despite my repeated insistence of its legitimate cake-iness and my many argument-reinforcing loud sighs, inspired a debate against my parents over whether it was more like boiled pudding or fruitcake. I was arguing that it was cake; a very moist, dense, pudding-y cake, perhaps, but a cake nonetheless. Since then, I have quietly reached the conclusion that it was perhaps cake in theory, but pudding in practice, with my added caveat that it should still be referred to as fruitcake to honour the spirit in which it was baked. Either way, it was delicious.

Anyway, I sometimes wonder about that piece of cake at the Princess Diana exhibit and where it is now. It’s like, how could a piece of presumably good fruitcake from one of the most famous cakes of all time go uneaten for 28 years? I never understood the tradition of saving part of your wedding cake and keeping it in the freezer, either, never to be eaten or enjoyed until well after your marriage has probably passed some statistical average marking a point of no return on the Road to Divorce. Then again, I’m the sort of person who would probably enjoy knitting completely inedible wedding cakes and having them around the house just for decoration, like this:

knitted wedding cake

Or this:

Knitted wedding cake

Or maybe even try to make a cool edible knitting cake that looks like this:

Knitting Cake

Or this:

Sewing and knitting cake

All cake images courtesy of Flickr.

And then there’s those folks in England who not only had a knitted wedding cake but had a completely knitted wedding and reception. I don’t imagine those knitted sandwiches were easy to swallow, not even after a hearty swig from one of those knitted champagne bottles, but it sure does look like fun.

The other cool thing about knitting is being able to recycle those old sweaters and gloves to make new things, like puppets, which is what I'm pretty sure they did to make some of the puppets on one of the best children’s shows ever to be aired on CBC, Nanalan’. Rather than try and end this post with some clever, conclusive comments on life and knitting, I will leave you with the sights and sounds of Nanalan's hilarious knitted critters.


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