Sunday, October 08, 2006

About knitting... in a round about sort of way

A while back in my LYS there was a woman and I am assuming her son looking at some yarn. I couldn’t help but hear their conversation regarding some fingerless gloves that she was going to make him. The son wanted the mittens to be two different colors and she kept refusing, saying that that would look stupid. He finally talked her into it since she would have to buy two skeins anyway so they ended up with 2 different colors of variegated yarn. This has stuck with me and continues to resurface in my mind every once in a while because I remember thinking to myself “how absurd”. To me, if I am making something specific for someone, why not make it how they want it? Even if I don’t agree with the materials or the pattern…or maybe it’s just not my thing, I’m not the one that will be using it so what’s the problem? Maybe it’s just me. This mental picture popped into my head the other day (obviously or I wouldn’t be mentioning it) and it got me thinking about the philosophy of knitting. Granted I am relatively new to knitting and for those of you reading that have been knitting for eons you may or may not relate, but when I finally decided to learn how to knit and purl I felt as though a new realm had opened up for me; I had finally found a way that I could express myself and give things back to people at the same time. With every stitch in every project that I make for someone I am giving a part of myself back to them; not by the cost of the supplies but by my desire and my time – I think about them with each knit and purl and the occasional YO or K2tog. I love the thought of giving knitted gifts to people. I suppose that part of this lies in the fact that I am what I consider to be a practical person. I like to make things that people can use… most of the time. There is a special spot for the frivolous and I respect that. To me, part of the appeal of knitting is that it is honest. There is also a truth and simplicity found within the knitting process that one doesn’t find most places anymore. Pick a project, pick the materials, execute the pattern (or make it up as you go), finish the piece, repeat. You get out what you put in. There is just something about it. In nursing school a student nurse is bombarded with the ideals of nursing, their philosophy, what it is to care for someone else…. you read about the pioneers in the field and about their accomplishments…. The funny part is once you graduate and you are ready to actually start working, you go to the floor or unit or wherever all motivated to be the best that you can be, your head is filled with the idealism of nursing and that that is enough. Then reality hits you. Hard. Nursing today isn’t like the nursing of the past and it won’t be like the nursing of the future. I mention this because knitting isn’t like that. People knit (and spin) using the same methods that they have always used. Knitting is freedom. Knitting is beautiful. You can keep the ideals and philosophies of knitting with you with each project. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that nursing isn’t a good field -- it is and can be very rewarding, I’m just saying that not everyone is prepared for the transition between school and practice. I enjoy the serenity of knitting and I love that it makes me be present. It’s like the feeling that you get when your child falls asleep on your shoulder when you are rocking them before bed or the sound of your feet on gravel and the wind in the fields when you are going for a morning run up at the farm. You just breathe it in and for just a moment, nothing else matters. Unfortunately that feeling doesn’t always last as long as one would like because the realities of life have a tendency to come creeping back into your consciousness but that’s okay, you know that you can knit again soon.

I realize that this is a rather long and pictureless entry but I thought I have been thinking about this lately as I compile my list of projects which, although lengthy I am actually looking forward to each and every one because I usually learn something with each project I complete. Not to mention I get to give it away. There is some stress involved with that though, will they like it, will they use it, I think it’s fabulous but will they think otherwise… I would hope that the recipient would be forward enough to tell me if it is not to their liking, so far that hasn’t happened yet but there is always a first time for everything. I am going to go work on some socks and I will post some pictures later this evening. Have a wonderful day!

Also, it has been brought to my attention that if you are reading this blog through Mozilla Firefox I have a band of black obscuring part of the entries. For this I apologize as it does not show through on my computer and I will be trying to fix that here shortly!


anne said...

hi erica! this is so interesting becasue aija, at sock pron, wrote about planning to give away knitting for the first time yesterday, and this is what i wrote her:

i just read your recent post and i wanted to tell you i think it's great that you decided to knit gifts this year.
i have been knitting all my gifts pretty much exclusively for years—meaning, i do not shop for christmas gifts in stores any more at all (i DO sometimes order books online for a few people). i have enjoyed the process so much that now i extend it to birthdays, weddings, and all other holidays as much as possible. once in a while if one of the nieces or nephews wants something special that needs to be store-bought, i will cave, but only for birthdays. it is surprising how often they ASK for something handmade now.

i can't express enough how this has improved the holidays overall for me! instead of getting out in traffic, bad moods, and consumer hoopla, i get to work quietly at home, putting good thoughts into the items i am creating, and maybe adding some home-made food gifts as well. spiritually, this has been an extraordinary revelation to me. giving away my knitting has made me a much more generous person in other ways that i did not expect.

in addition, it helps me keep my gift lists and spending in perspective, which is hard to do in the commercial world of shopping. it's a little easier to see that a pair of mittens or socks is a beautiful gift (and enough of a gift) when i create them myself.
of course this change did not come about all at once in a year, but started with a few gifts and has expanded over time. it has been a wonderful surprise to learn that when i don't shop, i DO have time to make all the gifts i need.

well, i didn't mean to preach or anything, but i just wanted to share an experience that has become so important to me. good luck an good knitting in the pre-holiday season!

hope you are well erica and still enjoying the spinning—how is that going?

aija said...

I really enjoyed your post today Erica. Like Anne said, I've been thinking about doing this and now that I've started a few gifts, its quite exciting to me (the ever selfish knitter). Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)