Yes, this is ivy and I’ve been knitting with it. On bamboo needles. It was a sudden urge. Some of it I did in the middle of the night.
I couldn’t help thinking, as I knitted in the wee small hours, of Andersen’s story of The Wild Swans. Of the princess who rescues her 11 brothers from the curse of an evil witch/stepmother. The witch turns the brothers into swans, who are able to take human form again only by night.
The princess (Elisa) on the advice of the queen of the fairies, gathers up stinging nettles from graveyards and knits them into shirts for her bewitched brothers. She must endure the pain of the nettles’ stings and also must vow to silence until she’s finished all the shirts – or her brothers will die.
One night she runs out of nettles and is caught gathering more in a graveyard and sentenced to death, for witchcraft, at the stake. Of course, she is rescued. She finishes the shirts in the nick of time, all but a single sleeve and one brother always has one arm and one wing.
It was tough, knitting up the ivy stems, even this little bit and my bamboo needles are bent from the effort. Still, ivy isn’t stinging nettles. I’ve just come across a version of the tale in which the princess has to knit shirts from … poison ivy.
I guess I needed to be rescued. Rescues come in strange and wonderful forms- in this case, by having me knit one for myself.
I’m developing my knitted ivy lifeline into an artwork and puja. It will also be a talisman and icon. I’m calling it Jesus Puja.
Have you ever been thrown a lifeline of strange and wonderful form?