Life after Archie’s Book

For those of you who got here early you may now see that I’ve changed the title. I thought better of my choice of words almost immediately! Archie Brennan and I started down a path more than a decade ago to create a book chronicling his fascinating life, and that path has reached its destination. Based on what little I knew about him in 2002, when I joined the Wednesday Group, I thought he had lived quite an exciting life. I saw him as someone who took chances, loved adventures. As he hand-wrote his memoirs and gave them to me to transcribe, I realized how limited my idea of adventure was. He led a most adventurous life!

A love of adventure and the unknown is probably a good ingredient for living an examined life. Examining life is a good ingredient for having an open mind while also developing strong opinions about what works in your own life. This is exactly how I view Archie. He was easy to talk to because he was genuinely interested in others, not just artists, not just tapestry weavers. He was fascinated to learn about whatever motivated another person to live the life they lived. Since he felt that his chosen profession was no different, and certianly no less important, than being a farmer or a mason or anyone else who worked with their hands, he was able to listen to others and know them on a level that most people just don’t ever reach.

My journey with Archie to produce his book is coming to an end. In terms of the actual, physical book, it’s done. It went to the printer in late August. The publisher expects it to be available in December. I don’t know what the future may hold. Of course I hope to talk about the book in any setting that might occur. There are over 300 images in the book and wonderful stories. I always knew that this book had to be an autobiography; no one could tell Archie’s story as well as he could. Along with being such a great visual artist that man could tell a good story. He was Scottish, after all.

Now my own future is wide open. I have neglected my own tapestry weaving, along with the fabric woven projects, spinning projects, and countless knitting ideas, braiding ideas and other handwork projects that have defined my adult life. While Archie’s book progressed and stalled over the years, I could not focus on my own work. Today I will sit at my spinning wheel with some natural black Shetland that I’ve wanted to spin toward a sweater that has lived in my mind for too many years.

There are three sweaters taking hold of my imagination, and memory. Two are about 10 years old and are neglected “works in progress.” I began both of them with the idea of celebrating my knitting jubilee. Now I’ve been knitting for another 10 years since then–60 years. It’s time to make those celebratory sweaters. They were featured here in my blog almost 10 years ago.

This is Alice Starmore’s Tudor Rose design. In my own project, I am just above the armholes.

This next sweater is the one that is calling to me to finish first. It’s based on a design by Ruth Sorensen, but I no longer know who might have tweaked the version I was knitting…maybe Ruth herself. It’s been 10 years, and the pattern is now gone from my Ravelry library and gone from my computer files. I’m a bit stumped at how that happened. The pattern is no longer available, so I can’t just buy it again. It’s a dilemma.

I bought Danish yarn called “Kauni Effekt” to use for this design. The brilliance of getting these amazing colors together is buying handpainted yarn and then using it as yarn A and yarn B. I just needed to make sure that each skein started in a different part of the color sequence. No need to change colors every two rows, as in a standard Fair Isle design. The yarn does all the work, and I just knit. I sure hope I can recover the pattern somewhere in my files. There is a slim chance that I printed it, but it is not with the sweater materials. I will have to excavate my knitting notebooks, and that is no small feat.

The third sweater is a new pattern from Sunday Knits called Tia Teva. I really splurged and bought the yarn for it as well. Go me! My sweater will be a medium and light grey/blue.

This is SO totally clever! Don’t you agree? Stripes that undulate to allow for stranded work insertions. Carol Sunday is so creative! I hope I can finish the other sweaters before I start this one.

Oddly, that brings me back to Archie. He had so many ideas in his head at all times, yet he never worked on multiple tapestries at once. He might be drawing sketches for several ideas he wanted to pursue, but he didn’t warp up a new tapestry until the current one had been cut off the loom. I need to do that. I really do. Thinking about that reminded me of a question someone once asked him after a presentation he’d given. The person asked what was the most difficult tapestry he had ever woven. He replied, “It’s always the one on the loom right now.”

I’m excited for this book to become a reality–at long last. I’m also excited to now have time for my own work, with Archie’s wise words scrolling through my head after years of reading and re-reading them, arranging them and rearranging them into chapters. I cannot count how many times I’ve read the manuscript, but his words have continued to remain as fresh as the first time I transcribed them. Now I am free to implement his wisdom into my own work.

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2 Responses to Life after Archie’s Book

  1. Lynn says:

    I love reading your blog. Yes, those sweaters need to be finished. I especially love the third one. Good luck with the publishing of your – I mean Archie’s – book. I know you’ve put your heart and soul into it.

  2. Marjorie Wheeler says:

    Exciting Brenda!

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