Sunday, November 28, 2010

Elephants, Knitted and Otherwise

Yesterday, I had planned to put the lights on our Christmas tree, but it turned out that dealing with lights was the last thing I wanted to do. I puttered for a while, and finally decided to accept the order of things, and knit instead.

I had tried to start knitting the Elijah Elephant pattern Friday evening. Ysolda Teague uses an unusual cast on, and I struggled with it. The cast-on itself wasn't so bad, but as soon as I would try to knit the first row, the stitches would all fall apart. Sigh.

I turned to Ravelry for advice, which generally was, "yes, this cast-on is challenging, but keep trying, you'll get it." I tried a bit longer, then put it to rest and went to bed.

In the morning, I sat down to try again. I kept the needles on the table while I got started (one bit of advice), knit the first stitch through the back loop (another bit of advice), concentrated, and finally got it going.

Finally - a successful cast-on!

So, later in the day, when I couldn't face the Christmas tree lights, Elijah Elephant was ready for me. By evening, I had most of the head finished; in just a couple more rows, I'll be starting the trunk:

An elephant-in-the-making

But I think I'll call this work-in-progress "Echo," instead of Elijah. I've been told this will be a girl elephant (the pink color is a good clue, don't you think?), so "Elijah" really isn't an appropriate name, is it?

It happened that while I was knitting Echo's head, I watched an old episode of Nature that we had recorded - Echo: An Elephant to Remember.

This turned out to be a fascinating story about Echo, the matriarch of a great herd of elephants. She had died of natural causes, and now the program was fondly recounting stories of her life, and of how she led and cared for her family. One story focused on her calf Ely, who was born with crippled legs, and struggled to stand and walk. Echo waited patiently while he tried again and again to stand, and then stayed with him as he slowly walked after the herd. Amazingly, Ely lived and thrived in spite of this handicap.

Another segment showed Echo giving birth to another calf, this one healthy and adorable (there is something sweet about a baby that is so big!). That calf was later kidnapped by other elephants, but Echo led her herd in recovering the baby, who happily rejoined her family. One of Echo's daughters died, and Echo took her grandson under her paw. Although it is unusual for orphaned elephants to survive, she successfully raised him. During droughts, Echo knew where to lead her herd for survival.

When I knit, I like to think good thoughts, and channel them into the finished product. I think if this stuffed elephant can capture some of Echo's love, caring, and devotion, that will be a Fine Thing!

P.S. I finally tackled those lights. We now have candles in the windows; a Christmas candle on the table; and lights on the tree. Outside, there is frost on the ground, and crisp sunshine just starting to brighten things up.

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