Friday, October 11, 2013

Bees' Knees

While I was sewing away on my machine (Hal) just having the best time (it could be that an old Barbara Stanwyck movie was on TCM instead of the actual act of using a sewing machine), that the phrase Bees Knees kept playing over and over in my head.  Of course this could have been because I was in the process of making actual bee dolls for a custom order from an old acquaintance.  So I began to wonder what in the word did BEES KNEES mean.  So off to the internet to look. 

I found references to a dancer who won the Charleston championship in the 1920s which might explain a connection with an old movie from the 1930s and bee fabric :

 One tenuous connection between the bee's knees and an actual bee relates to Bee Jackson. Ms. Jackson was a dancer in 1920s New York and popularised the Charleston, being credited by some as introducing the dance to Broadway in 1924. She went on to become the World Champion Charleston dancer and was quite celebrated at the time. 

Another was a nonsense phrase to innocents :

Bee's knees' began to be used in early 20th century America. Initially, it was just a nonsense expression that denoted something that didn't have any meaningful existence - the kind of thing that a naive apprentice would be sent to the stores to ask for, like a 'sky-hook' or 'striped paint'. That meaning is apparent in a spoof report in the New Zealand newspaper The West Coast Times in August 1906, which listed the cargo carried by the SS Zealandia as 'a quantity of post holes, 3 bags of treacle and 7 cases of bees' knees'. The teasing wasn't restricted to the southern hemisphere. The US author Zane Grey's 1909 story, The Shortstop, has a city slicker teasing a yokel by questioning him about make-believe farm products.

But I like to believe that it is this explanation why I kept citing this phrase over and over and over again:
Bees carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs. It is tempting to explain this phrase as alluding to the concentrated goodness to be found around a bee's knee, but there's no evidence to support this explanation.

Concentrated sweetness!  Doesn't that sound just delicious to think about that there is a hidden place where we can just reach (unless the bees are awake and then they are more likely to sting the crap out of your hand) something wonderful.  Just think of finding your Creative Muse behind a Bee's Knee.  Wouldn't that be wonderful if you just collected all that CM, swallowed it whole, and let all that delicious golden power direct your hands to make wondrous things?  Yes, please.  I'll have two portions.

So as I'm getting back into sewing and learning construction and Hal's little imperfections, I'm just taking a few nibbles of that CM that I've found behind the knees of these cute little bees.

A little thanks to Judi Decker who believed in me to create a couple little bees to wing their way to her house.


Cody Goodin said...

Thanks for the lesson in phraseology. Love the little bees too. I myself am revisiting some older doll forms and updating them. A challenge put forth by Buck no less.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Interesting info...Your bees are reviving an interest in doll making. They are definitely the Bees Knees!
Please continue to post here. I enjoy your blog so much.
xx, Carol