This weekend I will be officiating the wedding of two long-time friends who’ve been practically married for 17 years. Now, I have to say that weddings are not my favorite type of function to attend. Neither are baby showers for that matter. I know, my old bat is rearing her ugly head. Despite this fact, I am honored and brimming with joy that my dear friends, Bea and John, have asked me to play an integral role in their ceremony of union. I just couldn’t be more ecstatic for these two people whom I love dearly.
Naturally though, this impending event has provoked a certain amount of personal reflection upon my own history of unions (yes, that’s plural) otherwise known as the good, the bad and the ugly, and well, my history in general. In doing so, I’ve taken note of the aspects of my life that have sustained the tumults, joys, sorrows, exaltations and periods of chaos that have left their tattoos upon the epidermis of my soul and I’ve come to a striking realization. No matter what has been going in my checkered past, I’ve always made art and I’ve always had hook or needles in hand and a bundle of yarn at the ready. Always.
Yarn has been a tool of communication for me from the time I discovered I could twist it into a slip knot and pull the fuzzy sinewy lengths through loop after incessant loop. I learned how to speak yarn from my nana as a little LadyLinoleum. I would spend hours sitting with my nana in her sewing room, neither of us verbalizing anything, yet speaking volumes through our shared experience of making loops and knots, creating a secret language from string that only nana and I could interpret.
Improving my yarn language skills and techniques as a teen Linoleum, I would stave off adolescent angst by whittling away my post-homework afternoons crocheting and knitting garments of my own design inspired by Missoni, Krizia, Rei Kawakubo, Christian Lacroix and Vivienne Westwood to name a few. Donning a sharp black bob, ruby red lipstick and sleek wardrobe consisting of mostly black separates, I fancied myself as a needle working Paloma Picasso, elegant, refined and a powerhouse of yarn technique. Needless to say, I called much attention to myself modeling my one of a kind creations while hanging out with my fashion forward teen crew.
My undergraduate years in college were spent happily steeped in all things yarn and fiber as I worked toward a degree that encompassed my two greatest loves, fiber art and sculpture. At last, my addiction was transformed from mere after school activity to the focus of my education and I loved it! Practice altered somewhat as I transitioned from undergrad to graduate school, where my art making activities centered around materials other than yarn, I still found time to crochet and knit on a weekly basis as a respite from my large sculptural undertakings.
At the age of 21, I found myself in marital misery plagued by abuse and sorrow. Crocheting and knitting took on new significance. Making things with yarn became my buoy in a torrential sea of ubiquitous debasement. If there was any joy to be had during those long and arduous years of my first martial experience, I found it within the interstices of stitches, which I worked with fervor as if each and every loop and knot made had the ability to transport me one step closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Yarn too was my constant companion, affording me physical and emotional escape from the deep sorrow that enveloped my soul following the deaths of my father, my nana and papa (my maternal grandparents). Making stitches accompanied me through the life-altering transition as sole individual to mother with child. Creating fabric with yarn enabled me to feel less like a stranger in a strange land when I lifted my Angeleno roots from their familiar soil and replanted them in the desert sands of Arabia for a year. Drawing yarn through the loop I extended my hand to my beloved current husband as we pledged to love and care for one another until the end of our days.
The power of yarn has been a significant force in my life, a constant friend through the tumult and the triumphs. From life’s lowest gorge to the highest peak, my carpet bag of yarn, hooks and needles has been by my side. Now I attempt to teach my daughter the secret language of the string extending the patois across the generations in the hopes that she too will find both solace and celebration in the ways of the strand.