Mawata Colossus

It all started with the Yarn Harlot.

You see, I had never heard of mawata until I stumbled upon Stephanie’s post proclaiming the glories of her hand-knit mawata mittens. Like eleventy billion knitters before me, I was intrigued by the idea that these stretched silk cocoons, stacked in layer upon gauzy layer, could be pulled apart and just…knit. And the fabric! So nubbly and colourful, humble yet elegant. I had to make such a fabric. It was an aesthetic imperative. I went mawata shopping, and ended up with these:

Colourway: Plum Pudding

from Wooliebullie, and these:

No fancy colourway name, just pretty, pretty colours.

from Widdershin Woolworks. I had no clue what I’d do with them, but knew they’d become something wonderful one day.

As is the way of such things, the mawata sat in the back of my mind, sort of percolating, occasionally bubbling to the surface to say, “Hey, you should really…” what? I should really what? As beautiful as those mittens are, I’ve never been a mitten wearer (more of a glove person, me), and besides, the very last thing I need here in the Dirty South is a pair of “hand ovens.” So back to the idea pot they went, those lovely mawata, to await inspiration.

Then, last week, I discovered completely cauchy (possibly NSFW, but she gives you plenty of warning), a delightful, irreverent, smart, thoughtful blog about quilting and knitting and quilts with swears and quilts that shock and hand made things that challenge what hand made things are supposed to be. Cauchy got me thinking about quilts again, and about how I’d love to make a quilt. And how, really, I don’t want to make a quilt; I want a quilt to magically appear in my house. Preferably a quilt like the ones by the women of Gee’s Bend, whom my mum and I had visited in May. A quilt with a sort of underlying structure, containing a wild playfulness in colours and shapes. A quilt like jazz. One day, I will buy a quilt from the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, and will love it until the day I die. In the meantime, the ability to make anything approaching such a quilt eludes me, and filling my house with random scraps of fabric (as I have been so tempted to do) will not magically confer that ability. One can dream.

Cauchy also got me thinking about modular knitting: knitting things in pieces attached to other pieces, until you have a big thing that, being made of smaller things, never felt like an assault on Everest, though in the end there you are at the peak.

Last night, when the desire to knit with those mawata had become a longing that would not be ignored, all these ideas came together. I could make modular blanket! Out of mawata! Knit in quilt-like blocks! Eu-motherloving-reka! And so, last night, I made this:

More like ‘Chopsticks’ than ‘Take the A Train,’ but it’s a start.

It’s not much like jazz, but it is quiltish, and I’m hoping that with each block, my mind will stretch a bit more to explore the possibilities of colours and shapes within the framework of the knit square, and in the fullness of time this riot will come together to form a harmonious whole in the form of a quilt-like object. Made of handkerchief-sized blocks. Knit from handkerchief-sized bits of silk. I’ve already started on the second block:

Fluffy silk? Yes, fluffy silk.

and may have gone back to Widdershin for these:

Oh, those blues. Photo by Michelle of Widdershin Woolworks, used with permission.

Perhaps I’ll even try my hand at dyeing.

6 Comments

  1. Wow! I’ve never seen this pull-apart stuff before, it’s quite exciting! A modular project sounds like a sensible way to approach a magical quilt. Bite-sized is always a good way to get through a large project. x

  2. […] completely idle. In addition to a bout of castonitis*, I’ve made some more squares for the Mawata Colossus: Each of these counts as a finished object, right? I’m not sure how these will go together […]

  3. […] the Mawata Colossus post, a lot of people have asked me how it all works: how to knit with mawata, and how to make […]

  4. […] part 2 of a series of tutorials for the Mawata Colossus project. Here is the first part, on how to knit with mawata. Because mawata don’t come in a […]

  5. […] part 2 of a series of tutorials for the Mawata Colossus project. Here is the first part, on how to knit with mawata. Because mawata don’t come in a […]

  6. […] part 3 of a series of tutorials for the Mawata Colossus project. The first part explains how to knit with mawata or silk hankies, and the second gives a […]

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