Zombies or Jane Austen?
Who (or what) are you dressing up as?
Elinor's Day Coat from the Fall 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits.
My seven-year-old daughter Hannah loves Halloween—she's happy to dress up for it year around. So when the actual day is approaching, we spend a lot of time working on the details to get the costume just right. This year I was attending Spin-Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR) the week before Halloween and so we were working on it early. Ever since she was old enough to express her opinion, Hannah's felt that Halloween costumes should be scary. No princesses for her—she wanted to be a witch. This year she wants to be a zombie. Even though zombies scare me, I resist the urge to redirect her because I remember coming up with my costumes when I was her age (or perhaps a little older). It was so much fun to explore who my alter ego would be.
I spent far too much time in my elementary school's library reading dusty copies of a series of biographies written about famous people, but focusing on their childhood. I can totally remember how they felt in my hands. They were blue cloth-covered hardback books illustrated with woodcut prints. I love how they were lined up on the shelves, precisely placed and ordered. There were so many that I wasn't worried that I'd run out of things to read (strange the things I worried about as a child). I think I did read every one of them. One year I dressed up as Molly Pitcher, another year as Eleanor Roosevelt, the next year as Ann Sullivan. I probably spent 10 minutes at every doorstep explaining who I was those Halloweens when I dressed up as famous women from history, "…Molly Pitcher took pitchers of water to wounded soldiers during the Revolutionary war," "Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest serving First Lady," "Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller how to communicate by signing into her hand…"
The Prettyish Wilderness Socks from the Fall 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits.
And I've managed to craft a life for myself where I still get to play out these fantasies, trying on the clothes of people I admire. Right before SOAR, Liz Good and I hosted a Jane Austen Knits trunk show at the Denver/Boulder regional Jane Austen Society of North America meeting. I even brought along my spinning wheel—figuring that even if the JASNA members weren't totally into knitting the way we are, they would appreciate seeing how yarn might have been made in the late 1700s/early 1800s.
And while our vision for Jane Austen Knits was to create a magazine inspired by Jane Austen's novels and times, but wearable today—there is still an aspect of the magazine where we get to put on our Elinor's Day Coat or slip our feet into our Prettyish Wilderness Socks and imagine what it would be like to be Elizabeth Bennet or Elinor Dashwood.