Ties That Bind

I have two of the necessary parts for this project.

The text:

Ties That Bind

When I was a teenager, I’d hide in my father’s cedar closet and try on his ties—around my waist as a sash, around my forehead as a hippie headband.
I was sixty years old when he died. I took three of his ties without telling anyone , cut them up, and knitted them along with wire, yarn, lace, string, and scraps into mourning pieces.
Did I ever truly know him? His ties were narrow.When they went out of fashion he held on to them, waiting for the style to come back in. And they did, although by then he no longer wore ties or anything formal.
He was many people, more than I am. I can’t tell if he knew who I was.

AND the three knit (no purl) pieces:


Now I need to figure out how to “frame it.” A fabric book? A scroll? Or?

No Purl: Memorial Piece with my Dead Father’s Tie

Recently artist Suzanne Vilmain showed me a textile piece she’d made: “No purl,” she said, “just knit.” And she was knitting everything–metal, fabric strips, torn clothes. I was very inspired by her approach. I started in, knitting some yarn remnants, buttons, glass beads. Then it hit–my dead father’s tie! Knit that too.

It came out surprisingly well, in that it pleased me. This is the first time, after many years of trying, that I’ve been able to anything emotionally expressive in textile.


When I was a teen-ager, I’d go in to my father’s closet and use his ties as hippie headbands and belts.




Sometimes he’d let me have a few.

Thank you, Suzanne.

What I’ve Learned from Knitting

1. I am not a perfectionist. I’d rather hide a mistake than go back and unravel it.

2. I am not a snob. Although I’ve spent time and money buying hand spun wool from the person who also dyed it I’m equally happy with wildly colored synthetics.

3. I can count. Iambics. Haiku. Recently I got pulled into playing the marimbas at a festive event–the band leader just grabbed me. It was so easy, despite my lack of musical ability, that someone asked me how long I’d been doing it professionally.
Just counting.
Like knitting.

What I’ve learned from embroidery.

1. The back will never look like the front, and that is just fine.

2. I never met a hoop I liked.

3. No force on earth can stop me from licking the thread.

Preview Icelandic E-Book: Photograph by Isabel Winson-Sagan and Poem by Miriam Sagan


Swimming in Reykjavik

I traveled a long way
to sit and knit in bed
beneath a white comforter.

raindrops on the window
obscured the red corrugated roof
the dark blue facade
trimmed in burgundy.

light of the north
filled the art deco hall
that houses
enormous swimming pools.

dreamlike, we were almost alone
except for the bossy attendant
and a lifeguard
giving a small boy
a swimming lesson.

on the roof, a violent wind–
hot water rushing
down the staircase
warmed our feet
and a man with a hairy back
soaked in a hot pot Celsius.

the knitting yarn was gayly
green and orange
not from Icelandic sheep–
let’s be honest–
but from Hobby Lobby
at home.

each stitch made meaning
out of the whitecaps on the harbor,
showed how the sea
makes a pass at the land
like a too bold
pick-up in a bar.

you were still sleeping
in a nap
that trailed all the way
from North America.
I traveled a long way
to have you look
like a child again
and ask me for an apple.

Here’s the link to Amazon Kindle for SWIMMING TO REYKJAVIK http://www.amazon.com/Swimming-Reykjavik-Miriam-Sagan-ebook/dp/B00JQNGP60/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1397749162&sr=1-1&keywords=miriam+sagan

Today I learned to Purl–and I’m not even Sixty yet!

For several years, I have been knitting, as a friend puts it, “for my nerves.” After some practice, I can make a passable scarf. I’ve been ambitionless, but today I was seized with a desire to learn to purl.
The nice lady at the knitting shop instructed me, but turns out I was doing it backwards. This word “backwards”is a problem for my dyslexic brain–backwards from what? Directions often baffle me or paralyze my mind with terror and shame. Frankly, I had no idea what she meant.
I came home and went on YouTube and within an hour I could purl! For most people, this would not be a big deal. But I am not handy or crafty, nor was I raised to be. I love to learn, but it is easier for me to coach a mother in childbirth or adjust someone’s neck than to knit.
So this was thrilling!
Knit 2.
Purl 2.
31 stitches
Last stitch is a purl.

Fatter Than Barbie, Stronger Than Ken

Silver City turns out to be quite a town for textile arts. They have a fiber festival, weaving shops, and the excellent Yada Yada Yarn, which sports a bit of yarn bombing:
In search of buttons, I found cards of fabulous colorful ones–fabric covered and clay–with the motto “Fatter than Barbie, Stronger than Ken.” How cool is that!

And alpaca looks like it will make a nice moss green scarf:

Icelandic Knitting

When I was in Iceland, one thing I really noticed was that knitting supplies are everywhere. There are huge sections devoted to yarn in an average supermarket, and every tiny convenience store also boosts wool and needles. Here is an excerpt from the NY Times on Icelandic knitting.I also learned that women often cut and then knit their own hair in the 19th and early 20th century! I actually saw capes made of knit hair in little local museums.
The knitter’s name was Ragga Eiriksdottir, and ever since the crash, she has been earning a living with her knitting….She started a business that publishes books and produces popular DVDs on the art of knitting. She also runs a series of “knitting tours” in which she escorts knitters from all over the world on trips around Iceland. Eiriksdottir’s first book came out around the time of the crash. The timing was perfect, she said, because Icelanders finally realized that “we weren’t good with money and that we should do something that we are actually good at.”
“Knitting is the opposite of idolizing money,” she explained. “Knitting embodies thriftiness and is something old that has been with the nation forever. In the 1800s, the state actually published documents that outlined how much citizens should knit. It was said, for example, that a child from the age of 8 should finish a pair of socks each week.”
Eiriksdottir continued with her work. I noticed that she was using a bizarre-looking needle.
“Is that a bone?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s a cow bone,” she replied, explaining that this is what they used in the old days. “I prefer it to the modern needle, especially with all the fuzzy Icelandic yarn.”
Published: May 13, 2011
New York Times