Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #1: Georgia Morgan

Today I am starting something new in this blog (and my personal blog, as well--just ask and I'll send you that link). I'm calling it Wednesday Wonders, and I will be honoring someone in my knitting/crafting life who has inspired wonder in me in some way. I have a fairly long list of candidates, so if I keep at it, this feature should last a while. I hope to cover people I've known, family, friends, colleagues and such, plus bloggers, authors, historical figures and the like, as well. There's a lot of inspiration out there. I have written a few posts before about my knitting ancestors and forebears in the past, but I am hoping to be able to go into detail about them in this format.

I'll give a bit of background about each Wednesday Wonder, how I know about them, etc., and then list at least Five Fabulous Factoids about each. If I can, I'll post a photo and add links. (There is no photo yet on this one due to Internet issues--there'll be one later.)

Wednesday Wonder #1

Today I am going to tell you why Georgia Morgan is a Wednesday Wonder. I'd been thinking about her this week, because she recently joined Facebook (I was her first "friend" there) and she launched her Etsy store (linked below), where I was delighted to see charming breastfeeding rings (you can flip the stone to remind yourself which side the baby is supposed to use next) among the offerings. It got me to reflecting on how some people really influence our lives, and I realized that she influenced mine a lot.

Who is this woman, you ask? A simple answer is that she was one of my teachers in grad school, in the linguistics department at the University of Illinois. But wait, there's more. She was someone who did so many of the things I wanted to do in life, only (at least in my mind) so much better. She was really smart (duh) and didn't dawdle over her PhD like I did. She was interested in the exact same stuff I was (pragmatics), had a biting wit (oh, if I could only be as sarcastic, punny and articulate as Georgia or her husband), had really smart children whom she treated as fellow human beings rather than objects, was proud to be a feminist, and most important: she knitted all the time! Georgia's encouragement led me to not fear pulling out the work in progress during lectures on phonology or the dreaded Sanskrit. Her willingness to try new techniques helped me not fear designing my own complex Aran sweaters armed only with needles, gauge, and a Barbara J. Walker book. And seeing her place an intellectual and artistic value to the crafts my poorly educated family valued as mere time-passing objects helped me value my own projects as worthy of respect, not just "women's work." It's fairly obvious, isn't it? I would have taken a lot longer to become the knitter I am today if I hadn't known her (and probably wouldn't have become the person I am today without her patience, prodding, understanding and forgiveness). (I won't go into how much the Fridays drinking beer and all the discussions at the Chinese restaurant shaped my political and social beliefs, but I am grateful for that, too.)

I spent most of the 80s following Georgia around, knitting and writing long sentences with many footnotes. I did a lot of growing, learning, improving and screwing up during those years. I am only sorry that I just couldn't keep going in academia (for reasons really having nothing to do with academia and having lots to do with being a dork at personal relationships--I think I am better at that, too). For many years I have wished I could have continued to do crafts together, but I was so ashamed of not becoming a professor that I cut all my ties to my former department once I went off to be an editor/techie person. Luckily, we have sort of kept in touch all this time, despite my poor correspondence skills, and now I can enjoy her ideas and humor every day again thanks to the joys of social networking.

I still love words and am fascinated in how people use them. And I still knit all the time, even in public. So, this is one Wednesday Wonder with a huge impact on me (mostly positive!).

Thanks, Georgia, for helping shape me, for better or worse, and for all you did for all the students you worked with through the years! Enjoy your art, kids, grandkids and friends!

Five Fabulous Factoids:
  • Georgia's knitting was creative and organic--it was obvious she was an artist as well as a craftsperson, because she had no fears about taking off in new directions instead of following instructions to the letter.
  • Georgia is the first person I met who breastfed her children. She was who I modeled my parenting style after, and led me to toddle off to that wonderfully frustrating decade plus of supporting new mothers.
  • Georgia was in the room at the moment I discovered that Barbara J. Walker the feminist and Barbara J. Walker the knitting goddess were the SAME person.
  • Georgia wrote the most sarcastic, yet accurate, comments on writing that I ever saw (but not in red ink; that would be too harsh). It's a wonder I ever became a writer. It's NO wonder I became a good editor--I wanted to limit those comments!
  • Georgia took care of me when my mom died. I won't forget that.
  • Georgia and I knit a lot of leg warmers in the 80s. But hey, it was COLD. We also knit beautiful sweaters for men who better have appreciated them (I sure would like that green Aran pullover I made for the Crazy Cajun BACK).

I know, that was six facts.


Etsy Jewelry Page:

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