Camouflage, snow drifts, and aural confusion
While making pizza one evening, my husband asked me if I had been sewing during J's nap. I said no, and he said, oh, it must have been the snow plow. Yes, we've had numerous plows going by this past month, and my sewing machine does make a rumbly sound. It seems to get louder and louder each day.
This aural confusion is particularly fun since I spend quite a bit of time sewing, as well as shoveling and photographing snow drifts. The latter I do while my daughter and I go for "Snowy Day Walks." We have gone for quite a few winter walks recently (though the last 2 weeks are finally feeling like spring!) She asks for "Snowy-Day-Walk-Peter!" She's referring to The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. I love this book so much that I don't mind reading it over and over again. This morning we read it 4 times in a row. And as we read it, I get lost in the 100s of colors in the snow drifts. Peter drags his feel slowly through the snow, leaving 2 parallel continuous tracks. Then, when a third parallel mark appears, we learn that it's from Peter's stick dragging in the snow. (see the first few pages here)
I recently learned that Ezra Jack Keats designed camouflage patterns while he was in the army, during World War II. I find myself thinking about this more and more, in part due to the cultural significance: A young artist constructs visual patterns to help conceal American soldiers. Then, due to post-war anti-semitism, he changes his name from Jacob Ezra Katz to Ezra Jack Keats.
This particular military job fit his artistic sensibilities in an interesting way. His snow drifts, footprints in the snow, and use of stencils and collage seem to have a thoughtful history in designing camouflage. I feel indebted to his contributions, and like to think of him getting lost in thought, assembling irregular shapes of similar colors, with clearly defined edges that generate a pattern of interlocking forms.
This visual moment is where knitting and drawing become similar for me. Tiny chevrons of yarn, interlocking in infinite geometric combinations forming a plane and then a form, like areas of gray graphite relating to one another on paper. Drawings and knits each have subtle surface changes and topography. The sheen of a merino wool-silk blend yarn, next to a more matte finish wool - reminds me of the gently reflective surface of paper densely marked with graphite, dented a bit, meeting an area of paper that retains its fibrous surface.
So I leave you with some images of my knitting, drawings, and favorite table top from which I have made many drawing-/rubbings, as well as some links I was inspired by while writing this:
- The Tawny Frogmouth is a nocturnal bird that sits still in broad daylight, blending into a branch. The subtle changes in their gray textured plumage turns them into a stump of a branch when they extend their neck.
- Topographical maps, from the US Geoplogical Survey. You can order printed copies, or view online.