"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Posts tagged ‘Ravelry’

Knitting Pride

Are you proud of your handwork?

I recently shared this essay on a Ravelry forum. I got some insights on how I tick. Pride, enjoyment, accomplishment, completion. Are these interchangeable?

Substitute your hobby, craft, or avocation with my word “knitting.” I will share later some of the responses and reactions to what I wrote. Meanwhile I just started purple baby hat #6.

* / * / * / *

Am I proud of my knitting/crocheting?

I finished a baby blanket/throw after starting it over 18 months ago just “for something to do” while waiting with Mom in the emergency room. I pieced it with some odd lots of unloved acrylic yarn left over after my sister died. I forgot about it for a while and recently completed it to get it out of the way.

Valentines Day Baby Blanket Massacre, © JustHavingFun

Valentines Day Baby Blanket Massacre, © JustHavingFun

I suffer from chronic depression and have a hard time starting things and following through. As a sign of trying to overcome this, I showed this item and a baby hat I just started to my therapist and she loved them! As an artist she complimented the color blocking. As a non-knitter, she marveled at the stitch work. She asked, “Are you proud?”

I didn’t feel proud. I just felt null. I mean:

  • I can knit–no biggie there.
  • I can follow a pattern or instructions how to make a stitch.
  • I can even improvise.
  • It was just some oddball yarn I didn’t love.
  • It wasn’t brain surgery.
  • I’m not keeping the thing for myself.

I haven’t made all that many projects that are complicated. Maybe that’s the factor that stimulates a bit more excitement/pride from me. Yeah, maybe I felt a bit proud when I finished my first socks, the first stranded pattern, or when I completed the mint-green vest that is too huge. They were more complex.

Purple baby hats #1 & #2. © JustHavingFun

But overall, I’m not too impressed with myself. These little baby hats are patterned on a basic stranded pattern, but I have no excitement about the yarn or the pattern. It just zips along quickly. People who see me knitting (doctor’s waiting room, waiting to pick up a prescription, etc.) ooh and aah, but I think that’s because they have never seen anyone knit, and I’m happy to describe what I’m doing.

So I asked my community on Ravelry to see if they have pride in their handwork… all of the time? Or do they just do it sometimes “for something to do”?

Purple baby hat #5, © JustHavingFun

I tend to see the imperfections but am trying to let that go because we humans are not perfect. I haven’t started a project with my beautiful Icelandic wool because I’m not sure my skills are good enough yet. Besides, I can’t decide on a pattern.

Proud? It’s something to aspire to.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

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Knitting Competition

Time to tink (i.e. rip out the stitches and start again).

Time to Tink (i.e. rip out the stitches and start again).

Knitting is not a competition. We don’t have to declare we are only crocheters or only knitters. We love creating and the magic synthesis that happens with a few clever, small repetitive motions of our hands and a bit of colored string. Never mind that the string, also part of our obsession, can be lusciously dyed wool or friendly, serviceable acrylic.

Mikey from The Crochet Crowd recently sat knitting in an airport. He’s a novice knitter and remarked upon the comments he received. He also mused upon the differences between knitting and crochet and, while he’s quite skilled at crochet, it doesn’t flow naturally into knitting. He needs to practice.

Knitting disciplines me and allows me to focus in on details that get me into a flow state. I’ve started this lacy shawl project with a lightweight yarn on slippery metal needles. Never having done lace nor shawls, I jumped right in. The pattern uses a starting technique called a garter-stitch tab… for which I became an “instant expert” by watching YouTube videos. Yeah, right. Stitches slid and loops grew at a frantic rate. I started the first row at least 5 times, then read the pattern again. I made novice mistakes, but I finally got one row on the needles.

Oh what a tangled mess we weave... er, knit.

Oh what a tangled mess we weave… er, knit.

I did this in public—well, in a circle of a few knitters—on a dark Sunday night. The others steadily added length to their projects as I diddled and “tinked” (i.e. ripped out stitches, “knit” backwards). But I persevered. After finally getting the base row done, I read on and started Row 1.

I think I figured it out and finally had a small swatch of about 5 rows. But why wasn’t it clear what the pattern was supposed to be? Why couldn’t I “read” the stitches? I still had two stupid stitch markers dangling because I didn’t read the pattern right. I handily did the repeat before the ever important k1 center stitch (highlighted in yellow) because I knew better – you always do the repeat between *s first. I didn’t process the instructions the first, second, or third time. Like walking into a room looking for your glasses when they are on your head, I couldn’t process the evidence until I did it over and again.

shawl-1-instructions

Parsing the Instructions.

The process became my own personal competition, not against myself, but for myself so I could improve my skills. Someone who can read music simply doesn’t just sit down at the piano to play Chopin. There’s practice involved, familiarity with the piece. The work needs to sound melodic and not a mess of clashing dissonant chords.

Sometimes my knitting doesn’t flow naturally. That’s OK; it’s a process. The trip is the fun part. I know what I need to do: start over. Armed with my color-coded instructions which I painfully parsed, I shall restart this shawl. I’m anticipating the magic synthesis that happens when wool comes together with time. And eventually I’ll have a lovely shawl to wear or gift with love.

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