Noro Silk Garden Solo is available at Webs and Jimmy Beans Wool, and at your local purveyor of Noro.

Seeing John Malkovich

Dear Kay,
While you and the entire blogiverse have been in Rhinebeck blissing out on wacky new crafts and carrying on like a bunch of Kappa Deltas during rush week at the University of Alabama, I have been on the MOVE.
Stop One: Tailgate Antiques Show
If it’s October, you know where to find me: out in the parking lot of the Fiddler’s Inn across the street from the Opryland Hotel. I am utterly addicted to the Tailgate Antiques Show: a strip motel becomes ye olde curiosity shoppe once hundreds of dealers fill up the rooms with Stuff To Sell. What more could a person want? I know, I know: less potpourri. But still.
There were the usual heads, shoes, stuffed mountain lions in repose on Persian carpets, and oil portraits of dogs who have gone on to a better place. But I knew it was going to be an auspicious day when my traditional stop at Gwen LaFevre’s textiles room netted me a new addition to my collection of mending and darning samplers.
stitchingsampler.jpg
I have a strict rule that I have to buy anything that has my initials on it. This sampler is so subtle that I can’t get a picture of it–it’s just a series of seams some European girl named A.S. was practicing in 1913. But the seams! So straight! So teeny! So NOT something that girls are practicing anymore!
We turned a corner, and hanging from the balcony was this:
japanesetextilebig.jpg
The price tag says $2,250.
This is a boro textile, I have now discovered. It came from Japan, early 20th century probably, and was a futon cover or some sort of bedding. These textiles show the extreme frugality of the poor Japanese–the patches sometimes have patches, and even tiny scraps of fabric are not wasted.
Take a look at these boro textiles I found after googling “indigo patch Japanese.” Scroll down. Remind you of something?
You can read more here about a boro textiles show in San Francisco last year. Did anybody happen to see it?
Frannie and I spent a good long while pondering this piece, as well as this coat made in the same way:
japanesetextile.jpg
The dealer asked hopefully, “Do you work for Ralph Lauren?” When we chortled at the likelihood of that, he said that the Ralph Lauren folks had been through, taking ideas from these boro textiles.
It’s Gee’s Bend of the Far East. I was so wiped out after this discovery that the mood indigo tinted everything else I saw:
indigodresses.jpg
indigoticking.jpg
You would have been proud of me, loving the indigo and all.
Free bonus: What’s this? Yet another one of Ann’s weirdo pictures of human hair?
flax.jpg
Naw, it’s actually flax, aka Your Favorite Yarn in its natural state. I would have bet money that this was hair. Creepy enough for ya?
Stop Two: Chicago
This past weekend, there was no yarn. There was precious little knitting. There was no chance to go in search of famous Chicagoans like Evelyn or the Knitting Biologist or Bonne Marie or Cristina’s family or any midwestern knitter at all.
It was all about the kids. ALL about the kids. It was a quick inspection visit to see my frere Clif, the sister-in-law Mary Neal, and nephew Wilson, who have just moved to the big city from a small town not far from . . . Rhinebeck.
Amid the Nazi U-boats, beluga whales, and burning cheese, there was a moment at breakfast when I looked up and thought, That looks just like John Malkovich. It was. He was looking awfully dapper in his joli-laid way, wearing as he surely was clothes of his own design.
Stop Three: The Perfect Sweater
We return tomorrow to our Future Search. Destiny is just around the corner. Maybe John Malkovich could help us design the perfect sweater. Somebody call the guy, please?
Love,
Ann

Tags: , ,

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. They wanted *how* much for that duvet cover?

  2. Ann, I just can’t even say how happy I am for you, for John Malkovich, and for the denim. And for John Malkovich. And for the denim. And for you. And John.
    Um, yeah. Yeah.

  3. Ann, you are feeling the power of The Denim Side (please imagins Darth Vader-like voice there). We’ll get you there yet! And as for Mr. Malkovich – we have been stopped several times around London and by shop assistants who gaze at my beloved other half for a few seconds and then say – ‘do you know you look just like John Malkovich?’ though I think O/H looks a bit younger these days – I feel Mr. Malkovich has aged a bit recently…
    But, back on topic – those Japanese boro textiles are stunning, just stunning.

  4. I am unnaturally obsessed with John Malkovich. Being as how he is my father’s age, there is probably much therapist-couch-worthy material in that thought alone…
    I am very jealous. Next time you see him, blow him a kiss for me, will you? :)

  5. That John Malkovich guy is weird. But a good weird. I saw him on Charlie Rose not too long ago and he’s decidedly peaceful and happy. Weird.
    Oh and does all the indigo and denim mean we’ll be scrapping Cascade 220 as the perfect yarn? Maybe we can use sock yarn instead? I’ve, um, got a lot of it.

  6. shirret to the left of me. boro textiles to the right of me. john malkovich designing, among other things, knitwear and grossly overpriced tee shirts? is there NO end to the wonders to which you gals will provide photos and links??? my workday was feeling burdened, as it’s now day three of researching japanese craft books online. now that I’ve expanded to boro textiles, i’ve got a new lease on life.

  7. I am just curious…did you actually try this burning cheese or was the link just for laughs?

  8. I hear you on the monogram thing– I have a set of green samsonite luggage (complete with makeup case!) which I bought in a Goodwill in New Jersey solely because it had my initials on it. There is just something so irresistable and eerie about such finds.

  9. Indigo photo essay and John Malkovich? What a perfect blog entry. Thanks!

  10. OK, a few commments:
    1. Fun fact: I am typing this from the floor, where I lie with a cold compress clamped to my forehead because I was KNOCKED ON MY ASS BY ALL THE DENIM GLORIOUS DENIM PATCHED DENIM RAGGED BEAUTY WABI SABITUDE. How come there was no denim at Tailgate last year? Did we miss the denim?
    2. I was at that very museum in San Francisco last spring, unfortunately after the Ragged Beauty had gone home.
    3. I had no idea that John Malkovich had dated Angelina Jolie. (Sorry about that. But even a francophile like me is impressed when you bandy a term like joli-laid and even manage to make it the right gender which results in a most unusual spelling since this term is most usually applied to women and by the way it’s one of my favorite terms, see also wabi sabi and ragged beauty.
    4. I will admit that I have never heard of boro textiles and further, that when you first mentioned them, I thought you were talking about the textiles of Queens or perhaps Staten Island. As in ‘Bronx Boro Prez Fernando Ferrer’, ya know? This is just sending chills up and down my spine, to make this connection between the love of Japanese textiles and the love of denim (I knew about Japanese indigo fabrics, but not the Gee’s Bend-y boro textiles.) There’s so much to think about. My brain will explode now.
    Thanks for the documentary, doll. Thank Frannie, too, for putting up with all the blue. And while we’re at it, let’s thank Ralph Lauren and his unerring sense of the Next Thing To Rip Off. xox Kay

  11. “carrying on like a bunch of Kappa Deltas during rush week at the University of Alabama”
    Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. You could say it’s all Greek to me. (badda-boom!)
    Hey, so like, what was John eating/drinking? That could be interesting just in itself.
    And really. Couldn’t the Ralph Lauren people at least have BOUGHT some of the stuff they were ripping off? Annoying.

  12. When I was growing up (raised by Japanese immigrant parents), to have something called “boro” was a great insult. Even my fondness for secondhand clothing (no matter what the condition – I used to shop at a pretty nice consignment shop) was a real sore spot with my mom.

  13. John Malkovich designs, apparently, not just clothing but also words? Craftmanship, with no “s” in it?
    It’s so not a word.
    I couldn’t get past the “intro,” I was so offended by the presence of what I assume is a typo. C’mon, didn’t they spellcheck?

  14. MUST TAILGATE. I will consider this post to be your invitation to next year’s events – hope that’s okay! I love everything, but I soooo agree with Norma that it was unbelievably tacky of the Ralph Lauren people not to buy. I think Martha may have scooped them, however, as her people had a segment on “Designing with Denim” this month that looked very similar to your finds.
    Chicago is wonderful. My favorite American city. I used to live a block away from those U-boats. I love Hyde Park. Moxie and I are going there this weekend, but unfortunately it will be a short trip, so no knitting extravaganza for me, either. Sob!

  15. Hey – I sense something rising to the top – tailgating….knitting….future search….our final party not in a lounge but in parking lots all over the S N B Nation Tailgating the Perfect Knit while we drink our favorite beverages……..
    It could happen! I can see it in my minds eye!
    (RUSH of adrenaline at the vision)

  16. It’s probably good the kids detoured you. I am adjusting mitten patterns because my 9 stitches to the inch gauge is too large, and because it is too large (and because I could not bear to rip), I have convinced myself the solution is to knit TWO PAIR of mittens in this tiny gauge (one the size I am getting, and one the size I originally wanted). There is something wrong with me, and it will be better if our first in person meeting occurs after this madness has passed. (Although Mary Neal can hopefully attest that I was relatively normal a week ago, back when I was in the grip of DK weight baby hats.)
    Next time, my pretty. Next time.

  17. LOL Evelyn. I think it’s best that Ann meet you on a DK day. Clearly not anything more than 7 or 8 sts/inch. Nobody can make a proper first impression when they’re dealing with fingering weight.
    And Ann, I read the burnt cheese recipe. It’s hilarious–is it for real or a recipe parody? It calls for some 8-syllable cheese and says ‘This can be difficult to find. If necessary, substitute one of the following 3 alternative cheeses.’
    Then lists 3 more cheeses I’ve never heard of.
    And I get around baby. I know my combustible cheese varieties. xoxo Kay
    xoxo Kay

  18. Mary Neal has moved to Chicago? Good! Evelyn, next time we have a sew-up party, we have another body to guilt-into, sorry I mean invite. Sounds like a trip to Greektown might be in order, too. My brother’s Greek mother-in-law makes great Sagnaki (flaming cheese for the uninitiated) and knows how to card wool and spin too! She thinks I’m crazy to do it for fun.
    There was a nice article on Boro textiles in a British textile arts magazine called Selvedge; I think it was last spring. www/selvedge.org Beautiful stuff.
    We should make the perfect Mood Indigo handknit… something…

  19. The photos of the boro textiles reminded me of the futon covers we used to see hanging over the balcony railings to air when I lived in Japan as a kid (brief period between Hawaii and Kansas). Perhaps not so co-incidentally, my mom entered her patchwork quilting phase shortly after arriving in KS (I still have many examples of her work and tons of fabric-OK, a lot of it was my own stash, as well as a box of patchwork UFOs of my own!) Kay, you will be pleased to learn that I probably now have enough worn out, outgrown, and “ripped in a place where Mom won’t let me wear them anymore” jeans to make the denim patchwork quilt that I have been planning ever since my 23yo outgrew his first tiny pair of Osh-kosh denim overalls (they had feet! and were worn by all 7 of my kids so are now nicely aged, but I don’t think I’ll be able to cut them up- perhaps a nice shadow box frame…). Ann, I think I’ll get some blue ticking stripe to add in for contrast. Now, where are my scissors…I’ll just sit over here in the corner of the lounge with my denim and scissors and a nice hot Rooibos tea (it’s only 50deg here and snow is on the way) until it’s time for the next vote. Can I get my Cascade 220 in denim blue?

  20. Why do I read ‘Tailgate’ as ‘tagliateli’?

  21. “carrying on like a bunch of Kappa Deltas during rush week”
    LOL. Thanks for that. AT LAST someone has named the fearsome energy – and the spiteful madness!

  22. lol – and blow me away – i have never even heard the term “joli laid” before (where have i BEEN? and i call myself bilingual?) but am itching to work it into conversations soon! like, “that henhouse out back is so joli laid.”
    it might even be the perfect adjective for our new house!