Friday, April 29, 2011

Poem-Lariat for a River Goddess: a Crochet Necklace

© 2011 Vashti Braha
I call this freeform crochet jewelry the Aquamarine Réclamé Poem-Lariat:
  
'Réclamé' (reclaimed) because I recycled the aquamarine gem chips from an old necklace.
  
'Lariat' because the clasp is decorative, worn in the front, and slides for different styling options. Here the crochet clasp is a flower basket. It's a fun feature of my new Trailing Vines Lariat crochet jewelry design. (Soon to be released as a downloadable pattern.) See the other two versions below; try a section of the pattern! It's included in yesterday's newsletter issue #17, "Crocheting Fancy Cords."

'Poem' because of the river goddess Sabrina, who gave her name to the River Severn. Or, 'Sabrina' is the poet John Milton's preferred version of 'Severn' which is the preferred version of an old Celtic word. 

  
Anyway, Milton wrote this famous verse in his larger work Comus. I love it so much that I memorized it as a teenager and used it for a calligraphy project:
   
  
 -               ©2011 Vashti Braha                  -


   Sabrina Fair
   Listen where thou art sitting
   Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
   In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
   The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
   Listen for dear honour's sake,
   Goddess of the silver lake,

   Listen and save! 




Sabrina would save the aquamarine chips from an old necklace too, I just know it. Especially if she brought them home from Cassadega, Florida as a souvenir. The unusual town was founded in 1894 as a spiritualist community. Incidentally, the name means "water beneath the rocks."
   

The yarn is also a poetic choice: it's composed of organic sugar cane (Araucanía Ruca Multi). The aquamarine chips looked like sugar crystals as I crocheted them into the sugar-yarn. I thought about how sweet water can taste sometimes. Surely it tastes sweet to Sabrina.
   
©2011 Vashti Braha
©2011 Vashti Braha 
I subconsciously associate aquamarines with mermaids, naiads, sylphs, water deities--Milton's "goddess of the silver lake," and Nimue or Viviane, the "Lady of the Lake" in Avalon. I would envy Pisceans their aquamarine birthstone except that I also like mine, the amethyst (see below).
   
Photo from PaganPages.org
Aquamarines are rather crudely marketed. Strong-colored specimens have likely been cooked, and if you see a lighter strand, notice how they're strung on a cord that's a strong shade of what we tend to think of as "aquamarine."   


Unstrung, the gem is watery-looking and usually nearly colorless. (I've noticed the same thing with rose quartz jewelry: look for whether it's strung on a stronger pink cord to make you think the stones are more pink!) 
   
When I rescued these bead chips from the old yellowed (though "aquamarine"-colored) necklace string, I wasn't sure if I'd find out that I'd been duped. What if they were plain old quartz, or worse, glass? They seemed colorless until I sprinkled them onto white paper; then they showed a lovely pale watery-blue tint. I was hooked. Every aquamarine that I could reclaim and load into my crochet stitches was sheer joy. 

   
Something's been nagging me about this verse, though. Milton says 'knitting,' but crocheters know that half the time 'crocheting' is actually meant. That's just the way life is. (I'm suspicious of the term 'plaiting' for the same reason.) 

Let's try it:
   
     In twisted braids of Lillies crocheting
     The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,



© 2011 Vashti Braha (Silk yarns; Amethyst chips at right)

It does makes more sense, in context. It's so easy to finger-crochet. If I were a river goddess, I'd be stringing pearls and aquamarines and moonstones, then finger-crocheting them into my hair, seaweed, vine tendrils....