Tuesday, 20 March 2007

A knit on the wild side

Once upon a time there was a blog called You Knit What? Some people liked it. I didn't care for it much, and eventually it fugged itself into a corner and suffocated under a muppet pelt. But now I find myself sitting here, asking the authors of Knitting Wildlife much the same question. Oh, it's a skirt suit with a massive tiger face on the front, of course. And why is it a skirt suit with a massive tiger face on the front? Because, my friends, Ruth Herring and Karen Manners are saving the natural world one stitch at a time: top left of that cover you may have spotted the WWF logo, and the fly-leaf tells as that all royalties from the book will be donated to that charity.

Which is presumably how they convinced Michael Palin to pose like this. On the reverse of the jumper, the designers have included the message, "extinction is forever", which I cannot say is any the more true or tragic for being knitted. Wait, is Michael Palin, "ex-Monty Python" and star of "many international motion pictures" not starry enough to convince you of the whales' plight? Well how about this then:

It's Susan George, "who has starred in over thirty motion pictures, most notably Sam Pekinpah's Straw Dogs." She's smiling here, which means she probably isn't thinking about Straw Dogs, unless perchance she is reflecting that while modelling a chunky-knit representation of an Orca whale might be a sort of torment, it is at least better than having to act out two brutal rapes.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this book now. Certainly I've nothing but admiration for the person who could design and knit such creations, and a fair whack of admiration for anyone capable of wearing such a thing and pulling it off. In true 80s fashion, there's a lot of colour and pattern here, not much shaping and plenty of volume (Susan's sweater is one size to fit 32-42" chest).

If I ever get into intarsia, perhaps this book will suddenly leap of the shelf at me, and "Giraffes Browsing in the Savannah: Fringed Suit" will be graven on my heart. Yes, perhaps one day I, like the famous Mandy Smith (famous for shacking up with Bill Wyman when she was 14 and he was 47, not that Herring and Manners mention this in the little puff biog), will wear this amazing tribute to the "tallest of all land animals" whose great height "not only allows them to browse in the tops of trees, but also helps them spot potential predators from a distance" and yet is sadly "less useful against man"... oh sorry, I was lost on the savannah for a moment. Yes, I too, like the lovely Mandy with her "string of hit singles", will be wearing this as I go about my everyday work of saving the planet and seducing old bassists:

I'll just put it on the list for now, shall I?

Ruth Herring and Karen Manners, Knitting Wildlife (London: Pavilion, 1989) RRP £13.95, bought in Cancer UK for £2.50


Caroline M said...

There will be a day when a small voice pulls at your sleeve and says "will you knit me a tiger mummy?" and you'll know just where to turn for the design. (Actually I think you were better off with the blue wool)

Webbo said...

That's why this book will be put well out of view of the children - I don't want them getting any ideas!

Seahorse said...

Oh, brilliant, lol!!! I actually made that M Palin sweater in about 1988! I even still have the subsequently frogged yarn (at least I saw the error of my ways!). I think I also made something else - cropped polar bear cardi? Oooh, and Marie Helvin's skirt too, except mine was in black and rode up so hideously it was never worn!

Thanks so much for the blast from the past!