Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember my Frejya sweater, which I am making in honor of the eldest of our three Maine Coone cats. I have been working on it in fits and starts for a long time, mostly turning to it at interludes between other projects. At the moment I am almost through with the embellishments for the front (using an eyelansh yarn in duplicate stitch to add long hair to the mohair intarsia pussycat), and I have also completed several inches of knitting for the back. My goal is to have it all finished and ready to wear by the end of next summer.
The pattern comes from the book pictured here: Cat Knits by Melinda Coss (St. Martin's Press, c. 1988), a charming collection of feline-inspired sweater designs which I purchased in college at my beloved LYS (now long out of business).
Well... The other day on Ravelry, I got a comment on my Frejya sweater FROM THE DESIGNER HERSELF, complimenting me on my work and saying that it looks like her own "late, great Gingypop," i.e. the orange cat after whom she named the original pattern ("Gingypop Tweed Raglan Sweater").
What a beautiful surprise!! I felt elated to receive such high praise out of the blue, especially when I checked her profile and discovered that Melinda Coss has left the design business and is currently living in France: not only are we talking about a design from over 20 years ago, but it's an international connection as well. I was moved almost to tears to hear her speak in such warm, nostalgic tones about her own beloved pet. Despite the distance in time & geography, I recognized the sentiment immediately, since my husband & I certainly dote on our animals. It had always been precisely that love that shone through in the design and that convinced me (by identifying myself with the point of view of the pattern's creator) to make the sweater to honor our dear Frejya. I had always known that only a real Cat Person could have conceived of the sweaters in that book, but back in the days before the Internet, the chances of ever meeting or making contact with the designer were vanishingly small. You simply got inspired and enjoyed the project in your own little bubble of friends & family.
And for the designer in turn, I can only imagine that the situation was even more isolating: you labored long & hard to produce your best creative work, and if you were lucky you got it published & sent out into the wide world. But after that, beyond the vague hope that other people might be inspired by your work, and the disconnected sense that book sales must equal approval, how could you ever really KNOW what had become of your designs??
This is *exactly* the sort of magic that Ravelry brings off effortlessly. A designer need only run a quick search for his/her name, and suddenly a whole world-wide gallery of projects appears. The inspiration is real and tangible. Knowing this, I replied immediately in the warmest possible terms. I have not yet heard back, but at least there was that moment of sympathy and mutual admiration.
Thank you, Ravelry.