Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Knitting Celebrity

I made a knitting celebrity.

I didn't mean to -- it just happened. In my series, the Cypress Hollow Yarns, the overarching character who spans all the books (even though she's dead when the first one opens) is Eliza Carpenter. I wanted to create a character who was one part Barbara Walker, one part Alice Starmore, and two parts Elizabeth Zimmerman (all are BIG names in knitting -- you are forgiven if you don't know who they are).

The funny thing was that when I don't really remember writing Eliza's epigraphs for the books. I get emails all the time from people who love the things she said, and I think, Oooh! That IS good. That Eliza is something else, all right.

And then I remember I made her up. She kind of seems to exist all on her own, though, and she says things much better than I could:

If you can believe one thing, believe this: No one will notice your mistakes.

The magic of knitting is that very small acts add up into something substantial, useful and beautiful. [Kind of like writing, that, no?]

Of course, patience is only a virtue to a point. A decision will have to be made, but you'll know when it's time to make the change that's needed.

Eliza became someone more than just a character to me, and what's interesting is that she's grown to mean more to others, too. Down Under, there's going to be a book of her aphorisms collected together as a gift book. Here in the States, she props up a line of actual yarn -- and I love that Lorajean decided that Eliza's color would be cream. She would be too difficult to pin down to one specific color. Better that she represents them all.

From left to right, Cade, Abigail, Eliza, Lucy, Owen.

Eliza would be proud, I think.

And this is the epigraph from the second book that people keep quoting to me, and I'm glad they do, because it's TRUE (and I always forget it).

When you start a project, have respect for the fact that it may turn out to be something completely different than the item you originally intended it to be. It may be prettier, longer, shorter, or stranger altogether. It will certainly be better.

And I think that perfectly sums up a lot of my take on life (but Eliza said it better than I ever would). We never see a project out the way we imagine it will go, but generally, it ends up better. Doesn't it?

That Eliza. I'm glad I know her.


Juliet Blackwell said...

I *love* that Eliza has taken on her own true persona, and that she's becoming a celebrity quite independent of her creator! The wonder of fiction, where we get to channel characters we didn't even know we had in us ;-)
And I adore that last sentiment -- letting projects turn out as they will.

Adrienne Miller said...

Eliza gets her own gift book? That's awesome! And the yarn is gorgeous. She...I mean *you*...sure have a dedicated following.

Gigi Pandian said...

Love this! What Juliet and Adrienne said ;). And I love that you let yourself write her words as they came to you, rather than overthinking them, in which case I bet you would have remembered writing them but they wouldn't have been nearly as awesome.

Sophie Littlefield said...

I adore Eliza, and I often forget she's not real too!

Oh, how I love that Owen blue....

toni in florida said...

Writers have often expressed that the story comes through them, not from them, so perhaps the spirit of Eliza just found the perfect "channel" in you.

And if we don't tell her she's fictional, not to mention dead, she won't have to cope with any existential crises that might quiet her distinctive voice, now will she? (Sounds like a plan we reading knitters... and knitting readers... can get behind.)

L.G.C. Smith said...

I don't know how you created Eliza -- she seems entirely real and unto herself. Oh, wait, yes I do know: you're brilliant. :)

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