Why do things by halves? The pleasure of almost any activity can be doubled when you can read about it as well as do it. So, a new creative path is my learning to weave and now I have to read about it, too. Actually it was Susan's comment that made the light bulb go off in my head. Yes, Homer, The Odyssey and Penelope's endless weaving to stave off all those suitors. She has been rereading the book and I have been wanting to read the book properly. I read parts of it in school a very long time ago and have wanted to read both the Iliad and Odyssey for several years now. The idea was to make a project of it, and read nonfiction, retellings, maybe even listen to them on audio as well as read the stories. Maybe this is the moment when I need to just pick up the book and dive in rather than continually wait until I feel ready . . .
I know Penelope was weaving in The Odyssey, but I think there are weaving references in The Iliad as well. I know it likely doesn't matter whether I read the books "in order" or if I read them together, but I like to keep things tidy, so I think I have to start with The Iliad. Now the question, do I read the Robert Fagles translation or the recent new translation by Peter Green?
And then there is Ovid's Metamorphoses (another wannareadthistoo book) who recounts the myth of Philomela and her loom.
I read Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad almost ten years ago and it is definitely time to read it again and with a sharper eye since I didn't seem to particularly like Penelope and failed to even acknowledge how she put off her suitors. I think I would come at it from a very different frame of reference now.
In thinking of novels with weavers or spinners the first one to come to mind was Anita Amirrezvani's The Blood of Flowers set in 17th-century Persia about a young woman who designs (and weaves, too?) carpets. Yes, I shake my head at myself, but I have not yet read the book even though I have owned it since it came out in paperback. (The beauty of a personal library is that you have books on hand that will have their day--their moment in the sun so to speak). Maybe I will take one of these on vacation . . . yes, I am still thinking about which combination of books appeals most.
And then there are two perfect nonfiction titles that I eagerly bought, but haven't had quite the right mood for them. I think all of a sudden they are just the right books for the right time--Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years, Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. I have been learning a little about weaving and cloth and I know what an important commodity it has been through time. Literally, wars have been fought over it. It would pair quite nicely with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth. For some reason Laurel Ulrich Thatcher's works in general have always seemed somewhat daunting, but now looking at the book I am eager to read her.
Great places to start with my reading and so many broad sources. Of course if any other good books come to mind about weaving or any aspect of cloth--either novels or nonfiction no matter the time period, please do share. I am also searching for images of weaving, so this will be an exciting literary and creative journey.
And a little tease--the two balls of yarn you see sitting on top of my books just happens to be the colors I am using for my new weaving project! Sorry for the poor quality of photo, but you can at least get an idea. Green and earth tones in general are my very favorite colors!