Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yarn philosophy.

May all the gods help us.

A non-knitting friend of mine was asking questions the other day. He didn't quite understand why I was so down about the loss of so much yarn out of the stash. Sure, he understood the lost money, but he didn't quite get the sense of loss. And he wanted to know why I knit in the first place.

I had sort of a 'duh' moment at the start, but eventually I pulled it together, and I think communicated some sense of the knitter's reality. At least enough that he got a glimmer of why I felt how I did.

I'll stick to one example on the stash issue. See this?

Three balls of Kauni Color Effects (however I'm supposed to spell that in, what is it, Danish? Norwegian?) It survived the Great Purge because I'd bagged it to avoid cat hair contamination. Looks like three balls of yarn, doesn't it? It's not. It's pure freakin' creativity. So far, I've decided to knit this yarn up into four or five different projects; a sideways-knit cardigan, three different types of stranded-color pullovers, a humongous shawl. I'll come up with another five ideas, at least, before I eventually do knit it up. I dream over it, I scheme, I jot down ideas, I think of all sorts of creative outlets, all inspired by these three balls of yarn.

Now imagine all the other ideas that lurked in that closet, sparking and sizzling in the dark, that had to get thrown away ignominiously, without ever reaching its full potential. Well. You guys get it. You're knitters.

As for why I knit. Well. Everyone always gets into process vs. product, and whether we knit for the joy of doing it, or whether it's all about the finished product. For each of us it varies, and there's no right answer. I'm not claiming there is. But why do I knit?

I made this with some sticks and string. THAT'S FUCKING COOL. I love looking at it and thinking "I did that." I love that it's POSSIBLE, that someone sat down and figured out not only how to do it, but figured out how to communicate to me how to do it, too. Sure, it was fun to knit it - there's satisfaction in the process, in knowing you're doing something fucking cool. And when you're done, there's just that much more satisfaction, knowing you made something with some sticks and string.

The Hex Jacket is one of my favorite knits of all time. It's not flattering on me. It hangs kinda funny due to the cut. Doesn't matter. The variegated yarn I hand dyed, hand spun, and knit up into the bodice. The semi-solid yarn I hand dyed. I put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle, and I am damned smug about the fact that I DID THAT. Aren't I clever? Aren't we all clever? We make stuff with sticks and string!

So, that's where I'm at lately. At least in my head. Getting philosophical over why I knit, and why I like it. I've been flipping through knitting books, waiting for inspiration. So far, nothing, but I've got out "Unexpected Knitting" by Debbie New. If that doesn't light me on fire, nothing will.


walterknitty said...

That about sums it up. My ex-husband says I've become entranced by the Spider Woman. Making order out of chaos, making something out of nothing. Taking sticks and string, turning it into socks, lace scarves, hats, sweaters, jackets, etc. It's about the process, the finished product, and learning something new. Even though I have a pattern I dont know what it will look like until it's done. It's pretty damn cool, and it's nice to be able to have something you made yourself. There is something deeply satisfying about that.

Emily said...

It's hard to communicate to a non-knitter the satisfaction of a finished project...or the lovely meditational quality of just knitting along, or the reward of figuring something out (I am terrible at following directions, so this can be quite a struggle) ...there are so many ways knitting satisfies me. My fingers are busy, my mind is (usually) free to wander, and in this world today there are precious few opportunities for this kind of time. Not to mention the love contained in the finished piece!

Amy Lane said...

Potential. Every ball is pure, unadulterated potential. It's a thousand different things that COULD be, and the fact that, as knitters, we have the power to unleash that potential? It's INTOXICATING. It's like having the ability to reshape the earth. It's WONDERFUL. It's complete environmental control without the worry about 'what if I fuck it up?'.

Alwen said...

I was thinking about that in terms of why I was buying some yarn two days ago.

And it's just that sense of all that potential, that unmarked blank page that could become anything. So tragic to have that destroyed!

TinkingBell said...

And every time I turn a heel I can't believe I'm knitting into the third dimension (please insert echo-ey deep voice sci-fi sound here)
and I can't believe how amazingly clever I am!

Louiz said...

Some time ago, himself had a friend over who has *no* interests outside of watching TV and drinking at the local pub (which kind of implies he might be an alcoholic, he's not, that's just where he meets up with his mates). He sat there watching me spin. And looking at the websites Himself was writing. And we both explained that we like making things. That it is fun. That you start with the bits and end up with a different, and useful and beautiful whole. Still don't think he got it.

I think between people who make things and people who don't is a really big gulf that's difficult to meet across.