This week I have been busy knitting a woollen rabbit in preparation for a ‘Retro Animals’ knitting workshop at Dragon Hall, in Norwich.
Struggling with a vintage knitting pattern, my thoughts turned distinctly leporine as I considered the significance of this amusing, but tricky, knitting project.
I visualised a mind map inhabited by hares and rabbits and attempted to make sense of their symbolic ancestry, but each time I came up with a taxonomy, or a chronology, it shape shifted and wriggled away.
The little creature taking shape in my hands is a direct descendant of my youngest child’s threadbare transitional object. He’s Br’er Rabbit; a cultural hybrid and quick witted trickster. He was once held in high esteem, associated with Anglo Saxon and Celtic fertility festivals but was later vilified by a Christian doctrine that considered him a portent of impending disaster.
As Harvey, the 6 foot phooka, Bugs Bunny, Roger Rabbit and Nanabozho he playfully treads a fine line between right and wrong. He is the same genus as the 200 foot long Alpine Bunny, knitted in baby pink yarn and visible from space. He has relations in contemporary fine art, in the form of Koon’s shiny inflatable ‘Rabbit’ and McCarthy’s ‘Spaghetti Man’ – the furry icon of a modern cultural infantilism.
And at the far end of this sliding scale of trickery and mischief making, is the nightmarish Donnie Darko; a psychotic Peter Rabbit all grown up and living in a mad world.
At this point I terminated the daydream and turned my attention to my knitting as I felt the stitches slowly slipping of the needles. I found in my lap a tangled mess of knotted wool and I caught sight of a small brown creature darting out of the door.
Run rabbit, run.