Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holly Night....

Garden Holly 2010
Well Holly is or can be holy depending on your interpretation of the language.  There is this blurring between words, languages and dialects. The great castle in Edinburgh - Holyrood - is pronounced "hollyrood" - which is possibly a doric form of haly ruid - or holy cross. On the other hand, Holly, the shrub, has for centuries been assigned supernatural powers.  In celtic mytholgy, it housed the fairies, who in turn brought luck to the home that protected the holly. In Christian mythology the holly's cycle of green, white and red berries follows the story of the life of the Christ child.
Sprig Scarf from Queen Anne's Lace

I planted two Holly bushes years ago in the garden - you need two bushes - a prince & princess to grow the berries - and the bringing of the Holly into the house each year, to me, is magical.  To have in the middle of winter, when everything else is dark and dormant, a plant as bright and lively as the holly to pick sprigs from (or from which to pick sprigs) is amazing. We have also managed to grow, with a lot of struggle, Ivy.
Sparkle Scarf

Ivy now creeps across my bedroom window. On icy days, it is still green and crisp, the presence of eternal Spring. Holly and Ivy both symbolize fidelity, harmony, and hospitality.

The last of the sacred sprigs is mistletoe - revered by the Druids as a symbol of life and fertility - well that's what follows a lot of kissing under it, I guess :)

Flake Scarf
A few years ago I designed Winter Lace Scarves. I decided that if I had to live for 3 or 4 months of the year in the cold and dark, I might as well try to enjoy it. Sprig scarf is my translation of a sprig of holly, with berries, into knitted, beaded lace. I added to the collection "Sparkle" because I wanted to capture the lights and festivities of the Christmas Season also in lace. I used a diamond motif for the glitz and a tassel for the ornament. Finally I couldn't have a winter collection without snow. So I added Flake! Flake can also be beaded at each double decrease for more sparkle.

So tonight, when Christians celebrate again the presence of God among us, we are reminded that the spirit of life and that which is truly holy, resides in simple things, a branch of this, a sprig of that - a lamb, a donkey - common people, labourers.  There is dignity in work and joy in creating. There is also a renewed respect for poverty, sacrifice and the ascetic life, because, we know that the real riches in this world, knowledge, understanding and compassion are not material; they are learned from experience and brushes with the divine - Merry Christmas!

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