Sometimes my daily life is doing, not writing about doing. This past month was pretty much doing: I’ve been knitting like a whirlwind. Socks for a friend; a hat for a COSTCO clerk who liked my hat so much that I had to make her one of her own; 4 tightly-knit birds nests for a North Carolina waterfowl rescue group who had put an SOS for them.
As with almost everything I make, I learn new things–or I re-learn things I should have learned and retained before. With the socks, I relearned about the actual shaping of the gusset, that “V”-shape at the side of the heels. It’s one thing to look at a sock pattern and just take for granted all those instructions are going to actually work and will shape a garment that can accommodate the odd structure of a human foot.
It’s entirely another experience to be knitting so slowly and attentively that you are closely watching how each stitch does its job, how decreasing gradually “forces,” or moulds into a heel and instep. That mindful, balletic experience is magical. You are behind the screen with the Wizard of Oz, marveling at how everything comes together.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity
but in doing it.”— Greg Anderson
In knitting the Anemone Hat, despite having knit a few of them before, I had to relearn how to make and space the tendrils. It was not at all difficult to learn, but required attentiveness and slow, deliberate knitting; looking very closely at the yarn and needles, and also pulling back and looking at the shape of the hat as it was emerging: do I need more tendrils? If so, where? I also savored the warm and fuzzy anticipation of presenting the hat to the clerk at COSTCO–surely she had forgotten by now about the hat she had seen on a customer and loved extravagantly.
The wildlife nests were something I had made a long time ago–also for a wildlife refuge–but had to have a refresher in shaping the bottoms of the nests. Again, not hard, but something that brought my focused attention to the ballet of the needles, the shape and strength of the double-strand knitting. I could picture ducklings, baby rabbits, baby squirrels hunkering down in the nests with some sort of straw or sawdust to keep them warm.
But here’s the thing that bothers me: I’ve been making things, doing the production work–and teaching others to knit (I started a knitting group in my community in March), so I have not been posting to my blog as much as I ought to. I know about raising awareness of a blog, and how you have to be consistent with publishing. The blog-reading public has no time to waste on sites that aren’t delivering interesting content regularly–like my site. I need to write more often–I get it.
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion
to complain of the want of time
who never loses any.
It is wonderful how much may be done
if we are always doing.”
— Thomas Jefferson
I want to feel relaxed about doing whatever I’m doing, rather than writing. But I’m far from relaxed about ignoring my blog for a week. Or two weeks. Or more. I can feel readers slipping away to the Kardashian’s website, to Wayfair, to some quiz that will tell you what dog you most resemble.
I wish there were a way to do both the making and the research/writing simultaneously. Many other people have done the “doing” and simultaneous writing about the “doing” thing. My god, look at Thomas Jefferson–U.S. president, yes, but also a prodigious inventor, architect, diplomat, and farm supervisor. He made a lot of things and still managed to write the U.S. Constitution, and to write about his inventions and his thoughts. Me? Nope. One thing at a time…
In the moments when I’m not making things, I’m thinking about what I want to make next. Remember that my one knitting goal for 2019 was to make a sweater for myself–one that fit and looked good. Remember, also, that I made two failure sweaters that (fortunately) my niece took off my hands. I feel the pressure of the unmet goal, and of yarn bought in quantity to try at least two more sweaters for myself.
Sweater #3 is so loose that it surely it will fit me–and look OK. Plus, in order to (allegedly) ensure I would be making a sweater that might fit ME and not a Star Wars character, I purchased a fancy tool for measuring gauge squares, and watched numerous YouTube videos about how to knit, block and then count the stitches and rows. Then I knit a gauge swatch for the first time EVER (the subject of this post: Lesson Learned Along the Walk of Shame).
As double insurance, I also bought the exact yarn that the pattern was made in. And the work has begun on that sweater, #3.
And today, yarn was purchased for Sweater #4 which will be knit in my favorite yarn–mohair. Knitting with mohair is like knitting with cobwebs, and the end results are light and warm.
It may seem like a lame excuse to say I have to think so much about things that I can’t simultaneously make something AND write about it. But it’s true. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of this blog about creativity. I am slow in the doing as well as the writing. I always read up on the subjects I’m writing about, and digest it, planning the photos, thinking how I’ll organize things.
Thomas Edison understood about the pre-doing work that is necessary before the actual-doing work.
“Being busy does not always mean real work.
The object of all work is production or accomplishment
and to either of these ends there must be forethought,
system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose,
as well as perspiration.
Seeming to do is not doing.”— Thomas A. Edison
For inspiration in spare moments, I try to grab every opportunity to look longingly at yarn porn. The colors, the textures and the beauty of yarns are a feast for my senses. And lead to ideas about other things I want to make, to learn.
So, let me excuse myself and get back to Sweater #3. I’ve got a lot more work to do on it.
Oh, I almost forgot; I’m also in the midsts of working on a kintsugi-like repair of a friend’s beloved tea mug, and painting a rock for another friend’s birthday–both projects are in mid-stream. I know I’ll be writing about the tea mug in a future post. It has taught me a lot. And there’s so much more to learn…
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing
new things, because we’re curious
and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
— Walt Disney