Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Living this Knittery Life

I've officially finished my Sears Copycat Cardigan, but have not yet taken any photos of it, because all natural light seems to be extinguished by the time I get around to getting my camera set up. I'm very proud of it, and taking them pictures in anything other than natural light would do it a real injustice, in my humble opinion.

I'm now working on a baby blanket for someone at work, and I'm making quick progress on it. Worsted weight cotton knitting with size 10 needles, in combo of stockinette and garter stitch - a breeze compared to what I have been working on. I need to get it done fairly quickly, and so the lace scarf that has been languishing in my knitting basket must wait. It's killing me. That's what I get for breaking my one-WIP-at-a-time rule. It bothers me when my knitting projects are unfinished.

Working on things like baby blankets often invites speculation on the state of my womb. Surely, I must be pregnant if I'm working on baby things. Sigh. Really, no. I would think that, if I were expecting a child, someone out there would make me something.

This is often a discussion that comes up in the Selfish Knitters Group on Ravelry, this question of motivation for knitting. It's either, "You must have a lot of children, that's why you knit" or "I see you love knitting. I'm sure you'd love to make something for me" or "Why would you spend all the time knitting if you can buy it for $10 at Walmart?"

TECHknitter wrote an excellent essay about the "Work-to-glory ratio" vs the "product-plus-product" ratio recently. It's a fantastic essay, and I encourage everyone to read it. In basic synopsis, sometimes you knit quick, amazing things, and sometimes you get all sorts of joy from the process. Until you make something with your own two hands, it's hard to understand.

I'm still exploring my motivations for knitting. I marvel at the creation of a fabric, and the challenge of fixing problems. It's a part of me, of who I am as a person. And thus, I'm very sensitive to the intrusion of unwanted criticisms of my projects, innocent as they may be. I would go so far as to say that, as cliche as it sounds, these projects are an extension of myself - a great investment of my concentration, my brainwaves, my muscles, my breath.

To a new knitter, here is what I would beg you to remember:

1) To knit, or to create whatever it is you make, gives you power. You can manipulate matter to your will. Believe it or not, this power is a difficult one to wield, as the order you create will often return to chaos. Therefore, don't take your errors too seriously. Accept that you are learning to control your new-found abilities.

2) Sometimes, your projects will disappoint you. It can be hard to take. You make something too big, too small, the yarn doesn't work, you accidentally felt your sweater. But here's the thing: without you, this object would not have existed. If you never had been born, the possibility of this thing existing would be zero. And that is an awesome thought.

3) It's alright to take breaks, and to say no when you just don't want to make something. You might think this just applies to people asking you to make something for them, but this actually applies to your own desires that go awry. You'll invest hours, days, weeks into something that just doesn't inspire you anymore. It's alright to say, "I'm not liking this anymore. I think I'll stop, and maybe I'll finish it one day, or maybe I'll rip it all out and use the yarn for something else."

4) When you receive compliments on your work, say thank you. It's not just etiquette. Believe it or not, people can find it scary to compliment your handiwork, because so often, the creators of this handiwork come back with some self-deprecating remark. Those remarks negate the compliment. And that's not nice.

5) Rejoice in your abilities. You may not have them forever. Love your hands, take care of them. Massage your aching muscles. What you do is not easy. Be thankful that you can do what you do.

You know, I never plan these blog posts. So often, I open the editor, and just start typing. I'm glad this came out today - it's been a good mediation. I hope it helps someone out there. It sure has helped me today.

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