Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bronte on the Big Screen: Jane Eyre Comes to Life Again

     Jane Eyre is a strange girl. Small - strong-willed - and, we are told, with a piercing gaze. A few years ago, when I shared a house with two women and one small boy, I discovered one day that the girl who lived downstairs in the dining room reads Jane Eyre annually. She plans it, looks forward to it, and blissfully disappears for several days to reemerge using antiquated sentence construction.

     Anything someone reads annually is automatically intriguing. I'd read Wm. Shakespeare and Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder. But I had never trod the Bronte path.

     It is cobwebby and sweet, sinister and shadowy. It feels a bit like Dickens - a bit.

     What surprised me most was the intense femininity, the unabashed emotional peek into a strong, quirky female mind in the 19th century. The gothic overtures were expected; the startling, blunt exposure of an overlooked girl was not.

      I loved it.

      Immediately, Emily and I (my friend who lived in the dining room, not Charlotte's sister) began playing the unending game: what actress would you cast? What actor? Who should be Mr. Rochester? Who should be Jane?

      Apparently, some casting directors have also been playing the game. Finally, a new version of Jane Eyre is coming to a theater near you this March (thankfully sans Timothy Dalton, unlike the old version that creeped the wits out of me as a child). I am thrilled to see Dame Judi Dench in this rendition: the incomparable British actress has been making the rounds of classic English literature, having played Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the recent Pride and Prejudice. She has morphed brilliantly from leading lady to aging matriarch (and often manages to seem as if she still is, in some ways, leading lady).

     At any rate, the book - and movie - are called Jane Eyre, not Aging Housekeeper, and you can watch the trailer here. It looks quite promising. 

     Is there a loved literary character you wish you could cast? Who would you choose to play your favorite character?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Handknit Stocking Giveaway!

The winner is...#1, Marybelle!

     Alright, soon I'll tell you the story about a game with extended family involving a misinterpretation of "Medusa Getting Her Hair Cut," that ends with "Catching A Dead Girl With A Carrot."

     But that's for another day. Today, I am thrilled to showcase Mema! Yep, she's a great-grandmother who handknits stockings and sells them on Etsy - and beautiful stockings they are. In fact, we chatted about her crafty ways recently...

Your profile says you've created things all your life, whether knitting, crocheting, or even woodworking. But when did you learn to knit? What was the first thing you ever knitted?

     I can not remember exactly when I started. My mother was an accomplished knitter. She would make suits, coats, sweaters, and she started the traditional socks. My sock has 1951 on it and the white (because of the yarn used then) is now yellowed. But I still use it every christmas. When my mom passed the chore of keeping up with our growing family with new socks for newcomers passed to me.
     I started before school. About 3 or 4. So I can not remember what I made first. I do know that as a child I do remember making sweaters and all kinds of cloths for my Barbies.
In primary school in church at about 7 years old my mom came to teach us to knit and crochet. I helped to teach the class with her. I even learned to teach left handed people to do it. 
     All of the other crafts just came in time. The woodworking is a new thing for me. I just started a couple of years ago after I retired. I have done knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, cruel embrodery, counted cross stitch, bunka (japaneese punch art), quilting, sewing, and I even taught my self how to tat, when I could not find anyone to show me. I have also done a lot of ceramic painting. My house is filled with pictures I have done in all media, and christmas is full of villages, antique santas, and a manger set.
     Also most of my gifts at christmas I make too. I love doing it. 

You have many grandchildren and one great-grandchild: are any of them involved in making crafts?

My oldest daughter, Wendi, and her daughter, Meghan, both have shops on etsy. 
They are both into all kinds of crafts also.

I know how to crochet, but I don't know how to knit. In your experience, what surprises knitting beginners the most when they start to learn? I admit, the prospect of learning makes me nervous.

      Learning any new craft is a little frightening. But knitting is not that hard. There are really only 2 stitches to learn....Knit and Purl. Everything is a combination of the two. The hardest part is reading the patterns. You just need to take them 1 step at a time. Just like anything in life that you do.
     On my site, the Nordic style pattern is the only one that I got from a pattern. The striped socks with the train and angels on it are a variation of our own traditional sock that I got from my mother. I changed the designs so that they would be different from our family socks. All of the other socks on the site and the patterns I sell are my own. I have tried to make them as easy to read as possible.

After September 11th, safety regulations banned knitting needles on airplanes, apparently considering them "dangerous" or "weapons." What's the strangest place you've ever found yourself knitting? (I think grandmas should be able to knit on airplanes, personally.)

     The strangest Place? I have done crafts everywhere. I even knitted on a flight last month. Maybe the round needles don't count.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only take supplies for one craft - sewing or crocheting or knitting or woodworking or painting or whatever - what would you take, and why? (This island has no electricity.)

     I think I would have to take cross stitch to that island. It takes the longest to complete and you need the smallest amount of supplies. However, I could knit in the dark. If I am just straight knitting I do not have to watch what I am doing.

Okay, I'm sneaking in one last question because it just occurred to me. Do you think the ability to make things (through knitting, or woodworking, or whatever) gives people confidence? Why would you encourage a young person to learn some of these skills?

     I really believe that crafting does boost you confidence. I love to see people when they open their gifts and know that I have given them a part of me. It also teaches people to be creative. I think it makes you think "out side of the box". 
     Also, for young people, like my youngest granddaughter, Samantha, it teaches them that they can entertain themselves and they have a great sense of accomplishment. I think she will also be like me and love to create things.

Mema, who is shriderb on Etsy, is giving away one custom stocking of the winner's choice!

To enter, visit shriderb and choose your favorite stocking. Leave a comment here telling me which stocking is your favorite. 

One entry per person: giveaway ends Saturday, Nov. 27th at midnight. Winner will be chosen via random.org and will be notified by email. 
Winner has 24 hours to respond before new winner is drawn.