Sutton Who?

A few years ago I invested in the Simon Schama “A History of Britain” and I’ve never regretted the expense. The 5 DVD set’s been my traveling companion, my best knitting background, a wonderful respite, a safe harbor for Gerry and I when we needed our minds occupied in at the Mayo and even a cure for homesickness when I’m on the road.

I love the DVD’s – love Simon – I have no idea if he’s a knitter, but I know deep in my soul that he would APPRECIATE good knitting.

I love his voice, his sense of humor, and the fact that he rides that fine line between priggish and drama queen – we should all be so capable.

And I love that when he was on the Colbert Report he was as giddy as a schoolboy. I like it when folks are free enough to be giddy in public.

But I digress…

One of the things I most admire about A History of Britain is that it is A history – not THE history – and doesn’t pretend to be a full-out survey from Picts to Princess Di. It’s selective.

A stellar point of AHoB is the use of archeological pieces and artworks to press home Schama’s point. This DVD’s where I first saw the Sutton Hoo helmet, so named because it was recovered from a dig at Sutton Hoo.

When I saw the helmet I was struck by the beauty – the intricacy – of the metal work. The idea of recreating it as a knitted piece has haunted me for years, and today I felt like trying.

Who knows if I’ll succeed. If I do, it will be in the book. It gets pretty intricate, and I don’t just want to copy it, but I want to find a way to allow OTHERS to copy it in wool, too. That is always the hard nut.

I could sit and knit anything I wanted, but working it up so that it’s doable by someone else, that’s the hard nut to crack.

So here’s my start. The chin.

I think in part I was inspired by some amazing yarn that arrived last week – it’s from Artyarns, and it’s called Mohair Splash. I’m not sure if it’s available yet – I got it after I saw it at TNNA.

The tiny beads and sequins are strewn along the yarn in odd places, not measured, and the unexpectedness of their arrival is a continuous source of pleasure as I knit it up.

A firmer yarn might give a more metal-worked feeling, but in my gut I feel that this yarn is best for this project. I’ve been wrong before, and may be now, but sometimes working it up is the only way to find out.

I’m working directly off of the photo. I plan to work the front to the temple, then work the back and sides to the temple, then join them and work the top. The heavily tooled areas with images of fighters and horsemen will be worked – or at least at this point I think they’ll be worked – as embroidery after the piece is finished.

Wish me luck!

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