Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jitterbug Perfume

Way back when I was in my early 20's, I was handed a copy of "Jitterbug Perfume" by a housemate who was moving on and told "here, take this.  you'll love it".  Thus was my introduction to Tom Robbins and his body of work.

At that stage I'd never read anything like his style of writing and I was completely entranced. I subsequently read all his available work in fast succession.  However as they say in the classics, you never forget your first and JP has remained a sentimental favourite, re-read and re-pondered more than once in the 20+ years since the initial encounter.

Fast forward to 2009 at the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. It was my second trip to the Show, and I'd spent a good two days wandering around and adding to my stash with glee.  I had all but spent my budget but was doing that one-last-look-around before leaving to head back to Melbourne and I came across the Stranded in Oz stall.  The majority of the skeins were laceweight, which wasn't on my list at all, but one in particular jumped out at me with such force I had to pick it up for a closer look.

A symphony in shades of mandarin and lavender; it was just gorgeous.  But it was expensive and my budget was almost gone.  I went to put it back down when suddenly I noticed the colourway name.  

Jitterbug Perfume.  

I think I gasped, because the stall owner Melissa came over quickly and then we both had a fandom moment exclaiming how much we loved that book, and that was that.  I knew it was coming home with me.

For nearly 6 years, I have safely stored this precious yarn.  I've aired it each year, making sure it's protected from moths and any damp.  I've pondered all the possibilities of what it might become (other than a precious skein).  At one point, I actually decided it would never be knit; that it was perfect just the way it was intact in the skein.

But of course, that was not what it was purchased for and this year during the Summer of the Single Skein I pulled it out again with the firm intent of Finding The Project.

Thus the Jitterbug Perfume Cowl.

I had decided the intensity of the colours needed to be tempered somehow, and so went looking at the wonderful palette of Isager for inspiration.  As luck would have it, not only was this plummy purple a good foil for the oranges, the Isager Spinni (another laceweight single) was also a good match in both fibre content, ply and weight.

I could not be happier with this colour combo if I tried.  The Spinni just knocks the edge off the Jitterbug in such a perfect way while simultaneously allowing the variegated to really shine.

I worked this up on my knitting machine, which in itself was a bit of a steep learning curve.  There were multiple attempts at casting on, and much frustration at getting the colourwork to flow but we got there in the end. This simple diamond pattern wasn't my first choice, but again - I think it's right.  I had been trying to replicate the Jasmine perfume bottles in the book, but it was just too fussy overall. 

I worked half the cowl with the solid colour as the base and half with the variegated as the base, then handstitched the two panels together to form a long reversible cowl.  It's not the prettiest construction, but it does the job and once on you really can't see any of the flaws anyway.

I still can't decide my favourite side!


rebecca said...

What a great story! This is truly why we make stuff. It is like Alchemy with symbols and meanings invested in yarn meets the Odyessy in a journey of making complete with trials and adversity. The cowl would be beautiful without the story but now it is a cultural artefact of your life. Fabulous, just fabulous.

Caffeine Girl said...

Flaws? There is nothing flawed. That is one gorgeous cowl. The two yarns are just perfect together, and the diamonds are lovely. Great job!

WildflowerWool said...

I love it when projects have a story behind them. Beautiful cowl!

Nia Robertson said...

Sometimes the object makes the story....and sometimes the story makes the object....I love how this story resolves in a beautiful cowl.

WIll have to search out this book now because I want to know where it started!

Sue said...

How stunning is that cowl! I love both sides and it means you get to wear it all the time just by alternating! Happy that you found your perfect project for it.

2paw said...

Wow, that is just gorgeous, either or both sides. I agree about tempering the colour: perfection. Don't know that book at all, but it is serendipity!!!

Jules said...

Fabulous!! A perfect combination of yarns and, as you say, a great foil for the JP's brightness. And 10 points for continuing on the machine- it sure is a learning curve but so worth it to see this kind of beauty.

And I've been meaning to read JP for 20 years. Perhaps now is the time.