My knitted journey through the Lord of the Rings has entered its second leg, and like the Fellowship, it is continuing at a rather sedate pace. Having read “Three Is Company,” it seems Tolkein was in no rush whatever to get his characters on their journey. Frodo, Sam, and Merry are on a backpacking pleasure tour through the Shire, and almost their every meal is described in detail. This frustrated me on previous readings, but now I see that a slavish attachment to pacing as defined by contemporary action movies is not necessarily a good thing. Last project, I asked why the story starts with such languid detail on the Shire and the Hobbits. This time, I ask, why does it take them so long to get out the ruddy door?
Tolkein was, I think, taking his time to impress – if not only on the readers, then on the hobbit characters themselves – how serious their situation was. Hobbits are pretty chill, and it takes a good bit of force to wedge under their bums and get them moving. They don’t know who the black riders are; they didn’t even know to expect them. It’s only instinct and luck that create the perfect timing for the two near misses they’ve had so far. And it takes ominous conversation with a high elf whose name one might recognize from the Silmarillion for Frodo to start guessing what trouble he’s in.
Hobbits don’t live in a scary world, and that is a good thing. Their lives are simple and generally pleasant, without the continual fearmongering of CNN, or the constant stimulation of advertising and the internet. I envy them, though as a young “tween” I might not have. Like Frodo, I’ve grown up and grown fond of life’s comforts. I can imagine building that simple life. And it’s only now, understanding the desire for a comfortable life, that I begin to understand what is involved in giving it up in order to save your friends. It’s a big adjustment to realize you’re living in the middle of an oncoming storm, especially when you honestly don’t want to be.
My project for this chapter and the one following is Mithril. I knit this one last year, and it wasn’t quite a catastrophe, but it was less than ideal. The yarn I used then was lovely, but the wrong weight; I made dozens of mistakes; and I didn’t leave myself time for beads. So this time I am being fussy. Everything is just so, from yarn to gauge to bead selection. I have caught myself in one mistake so far; I couldn’t quite bring myself to rip back so I just matched the mistake on the other side.
I’ve been studiously chugging along, and am though most of the intense beading. More than half of the beads actually go onto the collar/front bands, and that will create an interesting effect when it is worn, I’m sure.
Why this project for this point in the story? The nerdiest among you will know that Frodo doesn’t have the mithril vest yet; he doesn’t get it until he meets Bilbo in Rivendell. Honestly, the reason is that the rest of the projects lined up too nicely with chapter contents, and this was the odd one out. But it so happens that Bilbo leant it to the museum at Michel Delving for a goodly long time. Since it resided so long in the Shire, I didn’t think it so wrong to knit this corresponding project while the Hobbits are traipsing through it.
(I know there are some of you out there, probably most of you, thinking “Could you possibly go out and get a life?” One friend called the whole project a “nerdgasm.” I smile because you know not my contentment.)
I love this sage color very much and want to knit everything in it right now. I love it so much that I even got excited when I made food in a related hue. Watergate Salad was a favorite of mine growing up, probably because it has almost nothing in it that qualifies as “real food.” But it’s the holidays, so if you (like me) have a holiday party to attend and need to come up with a last-minute potluck contribution, you’re welcome.
Watergate Salad – the Jennings family recipe, of unknown original provenance
1 package of pistachio pudding mix
1 4-oz package of cool whip
1 20-oz can of crushed pineapple
1 cup mini-marshmallows
1/2 cup shredded coconut OR walnuts
Dump, mix, chill, and serve. Bam, it’s Christmas.
*p.s. My mom did make mostly real food growing up.