Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Franklin in Wonderland

The last time I changed apartments, the moving crew was deeply amused to find that I had five smallish pieces of furniture, eight huge bookcases, and 110 boxes, 97 of which were labeled BOOKS.

I attract books the way velcro attracts cashmere. In spite of a strict policy of twice-yearly culling, which sometimes eliminates as many as seven volumes, I'm still hovering around the 3,000 mark and fear that my cataloguing project will never be complete.

Some of what's on my shelves has been known, read and loved for so long that the books themselves have become almost superfluous; the contents are embedded in my brain and will likely remain until I am otherwise old and dotty and pluck at specks of dust, unable even to spell my own name.

The Alice books are on that list. I remember with absolute clarity the first time I met them, in the first library I can remember, at my first school. I didn't twig to all the jokes–unlike Alice, I had been deprived of peeks into an elder brother's Latin grammar–but I loved Tenniel's pictures.

They were unlike anything in my other favorites: Curious George, Corduroy or even Where the Wild Things Are. The last of these had scenes that were twilit and vaguely threatening; but the illustrations in Alice touched a level of absurd creepy chaos so spine-tingling and delicious that I suspected that I wasn't supposed to be looking at them.

Which is why Alice was the first book I ever stole from a library and hid in my bedroom. (Don't make that face. I felt guilty and brought it back two days later. I always brought the stolen books back.)

When I started working on the Looking Glass Socks I didn't want to get too elaborate. These needed to be low-stress travel knitting. I still hoped to have some kind of visual reference to Wonderland, but after the chessboard fiasco I gave up and settled for plain ol' stripes.

It wasn't until I was getting ready to write this entry, and actually pulled my copy off the shelf to scan an illustration, that I looked at Alice meeting Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum...

tweedle

...and was startled to notice that in the second book, Alice is wearing striped stockings.

As the second of my pair reverses the colors of the first,

second-sock

I've decided that one sock must be from the waking side of the looking glass; the other is from the dreaming side.

lg-socks

And I did it without realizing what I was doing. Funny, isn't it, the things that knitting will pull out of the deepest wrinkles in your brain?

88 comments:

subliminalrabbit said...

franklin, that is AWESOME!

Aberdonian said...

I think I love you! 1) for having that many books and 2) because the Alice books are my all time favourites and the Tenniel illustrations are wonderful.

Shelda said...

Oh, how lovely is that?! Truly so. Mmmm. The universe is all on the right rail, oh yes!

Winterhart said...

They look great!

I always did like Looking Glass better than Wonderland, somehow.

livnletlrn said...

It was meant to be.

NeedleTart said...

You show such restraint. We have over 1000 cookbooks. That doesn't include the, gee I don't know how many, in the attic (I'm rather afraid to go up there...)

Pink Lemonade said...

110 boxes of books! I have more to aspire to than just copy-knitting your amazingly lovely socks!

During my last move I handed my Brother-in-Law book box #3 of 50, he glowered and said "No thanks, I don't want anymore!"

chellebelle said...

I find myself pulling old book references back all the time, and after reading my childhood books to my children, I get to remember why I loved them all over again.. by the by, "non matching" socks are all the rage according to said children, so your new socks are so "in"...

Rachael said...

Spectacular. Isn't it just great the things we find hiding in our subconsious? Love the socks when I first saw them. Think they are brilliant now.

Rooie said...

Do I get any points for having roomed with Alice Liddel's great-granddaughter in college?

Another Alice fan here...I collect different editions. Just read Alice I Have Been which, unfortunately, I found disappointing.

Unlike your socks, which are splendiferous.

ccr in MA said...

The last time I moved, one of the movers said, a little dubiously, "You have a lot of books, don't you?" In retrospect, what I should have said was "Yes, and be glad I do, for I wouldn't need to hire movers if I didn't!"

Love the socks, btw.

RagdollDesigns said...

Please allow me to introduce you to the term - Bibliomania... and then to John Dunning and his Cliff Janeway series of mysteries - you'll LOVE them!

* Booked to Die (1992)
* The Bookman's Wake (1995)
* The Bookman's Promise (2004)
* The Sign of the Book (2005)
* The Bookwoman's Last Fling(2006)

Personally, I have gone audible - in order to combine my 2 obsessions - reading and knitting. Don't ask about the external drives full of books in this house, as it would be considered Bibliomania.

Kayten said...

The wrinkles in your brain are amazingly deep and fruitful. Inspiring, no? Makes you wonder what would happen if we managed to let go of all conjecture and anxiety.
Love the socks.

quietdanmn said...

A perfect inspiration for such a fine pair of socks!

Kathleen said...

VERY nice. Bravo!

Gwyn said...

As you are a Chicagoan, you can go see the original Tenniel illustrations any old time you want at the Newberry Library, 60 West Walton. They are MUCH weirder in the original. I remember the tea party illustrations best. Alice looks PISSED.

Glenn said...

I hear you about Alice. I started embroidering the imagines from the original artwork last year.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/spicy-shots/3827692748/in/set-72157620644270860

Love the socks!!

LauraRose said...

Brilliant! Synergy happens. Thanks for the reminder about Alice as well--my 4th/5th graders are always asking me what books they should read. Alice is just dark enough and has such incredible language!

anne marie in philly said...

ummmmmmmmmm, nice legs... (winks)

smooches!

Fujiyamamama said...

I think the Newberry Library has the original blocks for the Alice prints, if you ever need to see them.

Sahar said...

Umm...do you think, maybe someday, you'd make ME some socks? Maybe? My gosh I would treasure them something fierce.

And you know how I feel about Alice...

Anonymous said...

i think you stole my brain and books! one of my faves is "veronica at sadlers wells". also great illustrations and partly why i've always been attracted to brunettes

Jess said...

That is wonderful! Nothing wrong with a big library... nothing at all!

I've begun the delightful task of introducing my children to beloved friends of my childhood. It is so fun. Pippi just arrived today. We'll get to her when I've finished with Mrs Piggle Wiggle. Alice certainly needs to make an appearance too!

Mikki said...

I've got a bibliophile, too. I love the look on the mover's face when they realize it's almost all books. And yarn...

Pickyknitter said...

Uncanny, and wonderful! The book stuck in a special place in my head is 'the wheel on the school', if you are ever looking for books to add to your 'to read' list.

WV: disneti: i would rather knit and read classics than watch Disneti any day!

Kenneth said...

I've decided you have lovely feet (at least in socks). Have you thought about an additional career as a foot model?

junior_goddess said...

How funny that you call it "switching apartments". It's not moving, it's not even PCSing.

JelliDonut said...

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” Erasmus

Jodi said...

Sounds just like my last moving experience. Books, books everywhere!

Love the socks, and all the Alice in Wonderland love. Lewis Carroll was a bit creepy, wasn't he?

Freyalyn said...

Technically, of course, Alice's stockings (and yours) are HOOPED stockings - stripes go vertically. But that is to pick knits!

Meghan said...

When I moved to England four years ago, I brought three books with me. (The rest are living in my parents' house/garage; they would hate me if they weren't directly responsible for my bibliophilia themselves.) I'm moving to a new flat in a week, and so far all but two of the boxes I've packed so far have been books. I swear they breed when I'm not looking.

On the bright side, though, yarn makes fantastic packing material! See? All this surplus I can't possibly hope to knit up is just forward thinking for the next time I relocate.

Sweet Camden Lass said...

I dressed up as Alice in Wonderland when I was about 8 or 9 to go to a party at the Lord Mayor of London's official residence. The stripey stockings were the best part of the costume. Other than that, I failed to look ridiculously Tenniel (have you read Ballet Shoes? You'd love it).

Diane said...

I LOVE your socks just as you have knit them - but I don't care much for symmetry anyway. But your socks don't actually scream "we don't match". Things that always match don't reflect a creative person with a creative mind to me. I have found that those who do prefer that everything is symmetrical and must match are usually teachers or accountants - which is OK - just how the brain works in different people. Which part of Wonderland does Delores like best?

DonnaC said...

Love your post - we love Alice here too. The socks are fantastic!

Susan (and SmokeyBlue in spirit) said...

My Alice compendium is still with me from childhood, kept in easy reach for a look-see periodically or a read of a poem or two. I too love looking at the illustrations. Tenniel was amazing.

Your Alice socks are very very clever, dear sir.

Connections are something our brains love to make and your Alice one is delightful.

Now I am wondering if audible has Alice available. Oh wouldn't that be great to knit your kind of socks while listening to the Alice stories?

Karen said...

I don't even know where to start. Books--I feel the same way! The last time I moved my Dad kept saying "Why don't you give all these books/cats/wine glasses to the old people". I finally asked him if he wanted them and he looked at me like I had ten heads. Not sure if it was because he didn't want them or because I was calling him old.

Alice rules! My niece just got her Junior Dinner dress and it is a totally punk Alice in Wonderland dress. I love it so much.

Seanna Lea said...

Wow. That's some quantity of books. I have my own collection of huge bookshelves, but somehow I don't manage to have quite so many boxes labeled books. I think in our last move we had a couple of what we affectionately called the hypercubes (27 14x14x14 boxes) of just books. I'm jealous at your collection!

multiplecraftonalities said...

I love books, but I only keep knitting books (instructional & fiction), my Anne Rice collection, Gone with the wind, and a few other select classics. My house is so overrun with yarn, and rubber stamps, scrapbooking supplies, sewing machines, and fabric I have to draw the line somewhere. I love, love to read, but I still don't want a Kindle. My mother bought me one for Christmas so I had to explain that I really didn't want one, and could I please, please have yarn instead?

=Tamar said...

Either they are small boxes or all the books are hardcovers. When I last moved, I had about 8,000 books (after severe culling) and it only took about 57 boxes. I have many more now, of course.

Franklin said...

Most of them are hardcovers, yes. And a great, great many are also folio or larger. Some are fragile or rare and needed extra packing material or wrapping to protect them. And on the whole, I tried to keep the boxes on the smaller side to make them easier for the crew to carry, shift and stack in a smallish truck and two cramped elevators. I wasn't aiming for some kind of world box record, just packing my stuff.

Andrea said...

This may be an unorthodox thing for a librarian to say (and a public librarian at that), but any child that loves a book so deeply as to feel the need to steal it is welcome to it in my opinion. Now, I don't think it ought to become a regular occurrence and if caught I would say there ought to be consequences. But I think the world would be a better place if more children developed this deep *need* of a book that you had as a child. In my humble opinion, the person you have grown up to become is strong evidence of that truth.
Andrea

Barb B. said...

Now, as soon as I saw the socks and the illustration I thought "Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum socks!"
Finally, someone who has more books than I do! Mind you, Alice, and Just So Stories, and the rest will be going to the Grand Kaytlin shortly.

Amy E. in D.C. said...

Wow, someone actually trying to catalogue his book collection online! And your collection looks nearly as big and sprawling as mine (though not quite). It suddenly occurs to me what a wonderful world it would be if bibliophiles could put their libraries online a la Ravelry stashes. That way you could see what everyone else had, swap opinions, discussion groups, the possibilities are endless! I'm incapable of making something like this happen, but maybe there's someone out there who could?

Julie said...

Hop on eBay and get yourself a cuecat scanner. They're cheap, and librarything is all set up to accept the cuecat's input, so all you need to do is scan your books' barcodes and the cataloging will fly by! I've got a similarly enormous collection, and that was the only way I was able to get through it all.

Deidre said...

How I love books. However, my movers were not "deeply amused," they were downright disgruntled. And my bookcases are falling apart and there was no more room for new books . . . until I bought a Kindle!

Kristina said...

cool! i love your socks, and your meaning. i used to be like that with the books, but since i've had kids, i've had to purge them significantly, and now only have one tiny bookcase (and one tall pile next to my bed) to myself. :)

Kristen said...

I am an academic. I have a professional obligation to hoard books. So, yeah, I judge ye not!!

Awesome socks!

K. said...

I understand the books thing. We own a kitchen table and chair, beds a couple of desks and ten bookcases.

Rainy Daisy said...

hee :)

I love a good tie-in to literature, wherever I can find it.

sarah said...

HI Franklin

I have terrible book issues too, I`m not hugely picky either so I recommend a book called Olivia by Ian Falconer, even if its only for your niece.

sarah

Lucy/Stormsongwitch said...

Franklin, if you haven't already seen them, check out the Alice in Wonderland mittens by Jennifer Lang on Ravelry. They're pretty special! I don't usually like too much picture stuff on my knits, especially small accessories like mittens, but these are just so good I might even make them.

SlipKnit Meditate said...

Can You Imagine.. I have never read Alice..It is not very popular here in Holland.... but have the plan now to do this after reading your entry..
I am a book addict too I have to confess and my stash is also piling higher up....
But.. what a lovely socks!!!!

Bobbi said...

That's one DEEP brain!!

Anonymous said...

A life spent on the move and a education-driven lack of money have kept my book collection down to 2.5 bookcases. I'm a world class library wrangler. Unfortunately, in middle life, my reading has developed to a point where my four nearby library systems aren't enough. Seriously, I'm looking to move to a city with better libraries. New York might be good enough, maybe. Sara

Emm said...

My name is Emm, and I am a bookoholic. I am also a library outlaw, though my specialty is not larceny but rather overdue books. I look at the fines (oh, the fines!) as a way of helping to maintain the world's supply of miraculously free reading material.

It was very brave of you, Franklin, to allow us to peruse your personal library and to get such an intimate look at what makes you tick. You never cease to delight.

Alwen said...

My mother had an old portmanteau edition of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. It's one of my favorite books.

And if this doesn't make me laugh - my verification word is SOCKI!

Gail (nosenabook) said...

I was *slain* when I saw you in the Skacel ad at the back of the Yarn Market News. The Skacel people are pretty sharp (haha, I know) to know who their clients admire. Love the juxtaposition of the leather with the lace. You might explain the sheep sometime.

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as too many books, or too much yarn... I've thought about a kindle, but just love the feel of holding a book..

PS the socks are beautiful..

Yvonne said...

Gorgeous!! I love the book, too. So much.

Cassie said...

I have meant to get a LibraryThing account for years now. Someday.

Janet said...

3000+ books - now there's a challenge. I just wonder if my husband and I could top that. It feels like it as I unpack and look into every room at the piles of books.
Janet, moving from Dublin to Seattle

Patricia said...

You've inspired me to revisit LT. I put up all my books using that cat thingee. Really was worth the expense as I have books in the thousands as well. I can't imagine moving. That would be falling through the rabbit hole.

Sara in WI said...

I love it when that happens!

rosesmama said...

We did just recently move. I had to be careful where I put the books as the weight began to undermine the structure of the house!

And the girl and I are rereading Alice just now, with new illustrations, from a library book. I have to stop myself from jumping up to get the Tenniel to show how it is 'supposed' to look.

Great socks.

knittergran said...

You cannot win! Either you learned to knit in prison, or you are NOT a knitter, just a snotty musician!
Loved the story...love the socks!

helenkosings said...

Being such a fan of Alice, I wonder if you've seen the new movie and if so - what do you think?

Anonymous said...

Very Sexy Feet!
Cindy

candijensen said...

I share your Alice lust and actually painted at 7' Alice on the front of my house in SF. That was many years and several husbands ago. Just discovered your blog...love it.

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