Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sleepless at Lammastide, knitting at Lughnasa and slug genitalia

Sleep is eluding me tonight; wonder whether it is because the night of 1-2 August is Lammastide, originally Lughnsadh (festival of the god Lugh) one of the "quarter days" of the Celtic year, later Christianised as Lammas (loaf-mass), an early version of the harvest festival and also, traditionally, a time for sheep fairs.

If you ever get the chance to see (or read) Brian Friel's amazing, moving, play Dancing at Lughnasa (click here for a reasonable plot summary, though one that omits to mention the knitting content) or the film version, starring Meryl Streep, do so. The story features knitters (see below) and the knitwear in the film is gorgeous! It tells the tale of an Irish family of several sisters, one illegitimate son and an uncle, a former Catholic priest who has been overseas for many years and "gone native". The oldest sister, a teacher, desperately tries to hold the family together and to keep "pagan" values (smoking, as well as festivals) at bay in a time of social and economic change. Several of the other sisters are professional knitters, work that is drying up. The changes and clashes, cultural, religious and economic, come to a head at Lughnasadh. The play is extraordinary for the way it features incredible energy (the scene when the sisters all dance is utterly uplifting) and contrasts it with frozen tableau at beginning and end, suggesting thta the family is trapped by circumstances, even as the dynamics have shifted. Stop reading this and try to read/watch the play/film instead!

I'm off to try to sleep now, and if that fails, I'll work some more on my latest curly whirly scarf: hop over here (see especially the picture labelled "flared reproductive structures") for a vivid pictorial explanation of why I refer to any spiralling scarves and anything with masses of frills (like anything made from Wendy Knitit) as slug genitalia. One of the best books that I have ever read is Garden Creepy-Crawlies by Michael Chinnery (Whitett Books, 1986). I confess to having been one of those little girls who preferred keeping caterpillars/watching worms in the garden to boring stuff like knitting, yuk, but Chinnery's book (which I read whilst commuting to work) reavealed all sorts of things that I'd never been aware of, most memorably the mating ritual of the great grey slug limax maximus...

1 comment:

Anne said...

You need to listen to a lace pattern methinks!

I will look out for DaL.