Parallel to Jane
We've just sent the 2013 issue of Jane Austen Knits to the printer—the fourth issue. Each time we work on this publication, I feel like pinching myself: I get to immerse myself in a lovely fantasy world of exquisitely designed and knitted garments and stories by an author I adore.
During the making of this issue, Sense and Sensibility, The Musical premiered at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. What a thrill to watch a favorite story played out by very talented actors surrounded by others who were equally enthralled. And our local JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) chapter held a conference in conjunction with the premier. Claudia Johnson gave the keynote address: Jane Austen's Altitude. I took notes and knitted on my handspun version of the Barton Cottage Shrug from the 2011 issue (I'm still working on it, it's nearly done!).
After being captivated by her address, I purchased two of Claudia Johnson's books. Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel and Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures. I'm still reading the first book—carefully with pencil and dictionary in hand. Each sentence opens up a new paradigm in my understanding of Jane Austen's works. I'm finding meaning that goes beyond the pleasure of a novel and resonates with a personal quest to find purpose and understanding. I'm finding parallels between our time and culture and Jane Austen's that surpass our shared cultural heritage to human experience.
When I knit, I feel similarly connected to generations of crafters who have interlocked stitches creating garments that are beautiful and practical, classic and enduring, just as Jane Austen looped words and concepts. Spinning and knitting gives me the chance to take a break from a hectic pace and contemplate the big questions (as well as the little ones) and they seem beautifully interconnected.
What seems like a little break, a bit of a fantasy escape from the pressures and worries of modern life, is really a chance to sit back and see the forest for the trees. We still struggle with the balance of individual freedom versus collective good, with personal happiness and community well-being. Perhaps that is why the novels are so alluring—behind the quiet facade of a well-mannered romance lie the important questions.