My Halloween costume this year originated with a question from a friend's six-year-old daughter last summer. "What can you do with this much rope?" asked after she spent three days continuously cranking i-cord out of the Machine.
Generating the massive lengths of iCord took 3 skeins of yarn in varying shades of green: 1 skein of vintage olive from my Gran's stash and 2 of Cascade 220 Heather Celtic Green and British Green (picture-link below.)
The base hat underneath the snakes was also made from the vintage yarn. The painted snake tongues were simply dipped in red acrylic paint and left to dry. Periodically I stitched metal-lined seed beads in for eyes which also gives them an unexpected glint. The devil is in the details. It may have actually taken longer for the snakes to go through "Hair and Make-up" than to be knitted out in the first place.
I should reiterate that this is not a quick project. The base hat knits up in just under an hour. It takes about 30- 40 minutes to crank out 6 feet of i-cord which is considerably quicker than one can knit by hand. I used roughly 30-40 feet in varying lengths. Wiring and attaching the snakes to the hat took place over the course of three days: probably in the neighborhood of 20 hours.
Making this a family project would make it go a little faster and be a cool kind of collaboration. I chose a more sinister look but it could be done with a wonderful sense of whimsey. Who says the snakes need to be green? Why couldn't they have googly eyes and little bows? Does Medusa need to be evil?
On muni commuters were not quite sure what to think but at the Halloween party Medusa was a hit. One inspired woman said next year she was going to put tongues in her dreads. We had a brief conversation about how Medusa herself was probably just misunderstood.
In researching it afterward I find there's much variation in the story. Medusa may have started in Greek mythology as a monster or may have existed well before that as a godess in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. She may been vilified by the Patriarchy and turned into a cautionary tale: don't become a stong, powerful, intellegent, independent, beautiful woman or for boys: don't get involved with one. In some tales she is the origin and end of all life in others she is all wisdom: the archetype for Eve in the Garden of Eden. At some point in the retelling she becomes a rape victim cursed with hideousness by Athena for Poseidon's crime. There are even versions where Medusa's curse is a punishment for her arrogance or pride. I am reminded of the difference between the earlier editions of fables and fairytales and the modern TV and film versions.
If you do make this for a child's costume which story do you tell them?
Medusa is compelling regardless of the interpretation. She can be used as an exploration of empowerment and feminism. She can be beautiful or ugly and the story can be as heavy or light as it needs. The story can change over time as it has over the ages, the politics can be picked up later and expanded upon. It can be taken on a purely visual level. Medusa is cool: its pretty bad-ass to have snakes for hair.
Update 9/9/13: Just published the Medusa pattern pattern on my Ravelry store.