Sunday, March 21, 2010

finding meaning in stripes

working on a scarf for sabin in soft, colorful cotton
i've made my own striped scarf as long as i want it to be and have only to go down to the local knitting shop and have the nice lady there show me how to join the two ends and then it will be finished. in the meantime, i have turned to one for sabin. she had to have an identical basket to mine for the project and we gathered all of our soft, bright cotton yarns into it and i'll make a colorful scarf for her like mine. she doesn't get along too well with wool, so we thought the cotton was a good solution and it was a way to use some of a stash of yarn that i had acquired out of addiction to the acquisition of colorful, soft things rather than having any project in mind. being an inexperienced knitter, i wasn't sure at first if i liked the cotton, but now that i've gotten a little way in, i do like it and it will be nice for spring, which has finally shown up.

snowdrops - a welcome sight, spotted in the woods at the new house
(and we just officially received word that they've agreed and it really IS the new house!)
last week, i spent time with an old friend who i used to work with and who i will work with again, starting april 1 (convenient to start a new job with 3 days of paid holiday and a weekend, don't you think?). i had my knitting basket with me and was knitting on my stripy scarf. i also mentioned that i had two more weaving lessons left before they were over. he laughed uproariously and made fun of me for indulging in activities that, in his words, only a 90-year-old woman would do. and oddly, that didn't bother me. because i know better. for one thing, i bought my loom from an 80-year-old woman who wasn't going to weave anymore because she was now painting, so there goes the age theory. and for another, craft is cool. here we all are, crocheting granny squares, knitting, sewing, quilting and embroidering. we're outfitting rooms of our houses to accommodate these hobbies. and we're not feeling any shame about it, just because they are homely pursuits (in the sense of home, not ugly).

i've done a lot of thinking about why this trend is so prevalent at the moment and have a few theories. one is that in the face of economic crisis, people simply are doing more around the house - not only are they taking less long-distance vacations, they're thinking about making a cover for that mixer rather than buying one. so the popularity of craft is partially from the desire to spend less, tho' i can vouch for the fact that sewing and knitting are rather expensive hobbies. even more, i think that as so many of us are information workers in one form or another, spending our days in offices, using computers, making elaborate powerpoint slides and excel spreadsheets, we have a longing to make something tangible and real, rather than all of that virtual ephemera. knitting, crocheting and sewing satisfy that longing. plus, we're so removed today from the production of things, that we have a desire to return to the simpler times of our forefathers and -mothers, where people really know how to do things with their hands. a quilt is much more tangible than a powerpoint presentation when it comes to it, so we simply have a desire to have something real that we made with our own two hands.

that dark chocolate brown stripe doesn't entirely fit
of course, i'm not above assigning deeper meaning to the things i've made. when i started the scarf, i consciously decided not to rip anything out and start over, but leave the small imperfections as markers of a learning experience and hopefully, to lend their own charm.  i've been looking upon the stripes in the scarf as a series of events, just as life is made up of event upon event. they build upon one another and the shades of the different events play off of one another. sometimes they clash and other times, they harmonize. towards the end of my scarf, i felt the need to introduce two new colors - a dark chocolate brown and a darker turquoise. interestingly, the brown doesn't work. it doesn't ruin the scarf, thankfully, but it jumps out in a jarring way, just like some of the things that happen in life. also interesting was that i couldn't see it until i had gone past it and added the next colors, so it wasn't until later that i realized how it didn't fit. just like life. but having vowed not to take out stitches once they were in, i have left it, as a learning experience. in life, you don't get a do-over.

in all, i'm pretty ok with the ribbing that i'm doing things a 90-year-old woman would do. those old ladies know how to do stuff and they've seen things. and i'm just fine with that.


Bee said...

These are such interesting musings, J. I recently read a book called The Art of Mending -- in which the title refers to both quilting and family relationships. I suppose that I have a tendency to see stories in everything . . . that is my own mental bias and the way that I see the world. So with that said, I was intrigued by the way you described the dark brown piece that didn't quite work.

Congrats on the BIG news about your new house/project. (Didn't you bury the lead a bit?)

Hope you have a relaxing Sunday.

spudballoo said...

Oh congrats on the new place, super super news for this sunny Sunday.

I know what you mean about the 'mistakes' being part of the whole. I've messed up the pattern for my ripple blanket. I knew pretty much straight away but pushed on thinking I'd be able to sort it out. In fact, I have to fudge every row so that it looks correct...but it isn't. I decided to continue rather than unravel, kind of evidence of the learning process if you like.

I think you're right that the chocolate isn't quite right, but it's certainly not wrong. And it deserves to stay as part of the process.

Craft 'n' making is so cool it's almost uncool these days. Who cares? We love it anyway. And it keeps us off the streets, as my mother used to say ;-)

Jodi Anderson said...

I do believe that the chocolate brown stripe is my favorite part. :)

Char said...

i see crafting as that way to be connected again in a world that has cut themselves off from reality. not the fake reality of reality television, but the reality of work and family and life. in a world that is too wrapped in instant gratification and entitlement, it's a way to find connection back to the roots of themselves, family and home. and it's a way to express love by sharing it with others. or maybe that's what you've said. congrats on the house, that's very exciting.

mrs mediocrity said...

What a great post, musing, on life. One of my best friends is an 83 year old woman, I have know her about 30 years, since I was 17. She has taught me over the years, to knit, to bake, to crochet, and to never let life get you down, and she has had plenty of reasons to be down. We have knitting group every Monday, and she is still the best in the group, and she laughs the hardest. I think it is great that craft is cool again, making something, with your own two hands is always far better than something you purchase. Because it comes with built in memories, and it is yours.

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

I am very happy you got the house you wanted--good luck with everything!

Love the snow drops and I think the scarft looks great (even with the dark chocolate.

Have great week!

Tracy :)

Snap said...

Great news about the *new* house. For me, knitting or crocheting is about relaxing ... almost meditative for me (wonderful while Mr. Dragon was in the hospital). Now counted cross stitch is a little different ... I really have to concentrate, but can reach the same *mindful* state and hate to pack it up! Mistakes?? What mistakes?!!! The Navajos .. in their weaving ... always make at least one *mistake* as a way to let out bad spirits and let in good ones ... so I make loads of mistakes and consider it good luck!

Anonymous said...

The chocolate brown would have done well at the midpoint of your scarf - an accent at your neck. Then you might have done the fringe in chocolate as well.

Keep up the knitting. I agree. If you keep fixing mistakes, you'll never get it done. Mistakes are the gentle sign of being home made.

Ju said...

Well done on getting the farm house, you must be relief and excited.
Oh, and I love the cooky look of this stripey scarf.

stephanie said...

I've been called grandmotherly for quite a few years now and I think it's funny (I'm only 28.) I collect jars, I knit, crochet, carry toilet seat covers in my purse, I use a ruffled shower cap and really REALLY want to get a rocking chair. I don't mind getting teased about my grandmotherly ways at all...I know what I like and I do what I enjoy. It just means I get to enjoy my life now and I will enjoy it when I really do get to be 80.

Congrats on the new place as well!