Monday, 18 April 2011

Day seven (extremely belatedly) - your knitting and crochet time

Sorry for the delay in this post, still better late than never? I wasn't quite feeling up to blogging.

I do have an extraordinary amount of time available for knitting and crochet, although often very little energy - mental and physical - for it, which means that my actual output is not a great deal higher than many prolific 'well' knitters out there. Most of my knitting and crochet time is spent at my desk, where I have a big comfy chair, ravelry open on the computer, something from radio iplayer such as comedy from "BBC Radio 4 extra" (the artist formerly known as BBC Radio 7) to listen to, a glass of cordial to my left and vital items such as tape measure, scissors, pencil and tapestry needle close on hand. My desk, due to a mixture of exhaustion and "creative working practices", is much, much too messy to photograph. You may think you know untidy, but I tell you, you would be genuinely shocked.

My second modus operandi is knitting on the sofa in the sunny bay window of the living room, with or without the television or a DVD to watch. This bay window catches the sun brilliantly and is a delightful spot on a sunny day - had we a cat this would be where you would find him or her - instead I bask alone. There are a variety of flowering plants here, including my beloved poinsettia, a nice big cushion to lean against, a blanket for colder weather and the vital kit of tape measure, scissors, pencil and tapestry needle on hand.

Since the weather started to improve I have begun taking my knitting
and crochet out to the garden, to bask in the sunshine, without the hot house effect of all that glass, and enjoy the relative tranquillity. I say relative since our proximity to the centre of town and in particular the police station can make it a little loud at times, but it's mainly a low hum in the background and happily drowned out in birdsong. Outside, without the distractions of the computer, or downstairs on the sofa, I do tend to get more done, than at my desk. In particular I will often take a dull bit of knitting, or one which does not seem to be getting anywhere, downstairs with me, to get it done while occupied with a good film.

Likewise I often use meeting up with people, either at knitting group or just out and about in general as an opportunity to get simple garter or stocking stitch done, enjoying the process with my hands while my brain is occupied socially. Indeed I have found it folly to take anything more complicated with me to knitting group, as it inevitably leads to disaster. As women have done through history I keep my knitting with me most of the time to fill in those little gaps in the day - while the food is cooking, in the doctors' waiting room, on the train etc. - which would otherwise be idle and dull. The sheer portability of knitting and crochet is a major factor in my adherence to these crafts rather than others involving more setting up and preparation.

My knitting and crochet time is of infinite value in my life, it gives me interests beyond the bounds of myself and my illness to think about and an occupation, something that gives me something to do while consuming little energy. Through knitting even the worst day can have its achievements, however small, I can learn new skills, meet new people and gain a sense of purpose. It is something positive to think about and means that the days are not entirely empty, there are small goals to achieve, the turning of a heel, another inch on a jumper, another granny square. The very act of knitting or crocheting is positive, distracting me from pain, calming me, cheering me, distracting my mind from dismal depression.

Thank you to the wonderful Eskimimi for organising this week (or several weeks in my case) of blogging, it's really great, has been wonderful seeing the knitting and crocheting world from so many different perspectives and coming across new blogs. It has also been a great incentive to blog more: hopefully I will keep this up.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Day six (belatedly) - Something to aspire to

The main area of skill I aspire to improve is designing. As has already been seen here I've done a little dabbling into design, but not yet taken it as far as I would like: I have not yet tried a full garment design for example. I have to admit that I never dreamed that I would ever have designed and written the pattern for an item of knitwear, though at one time I did not see that knitting itself was something I would ever do, so times change.

The principal thing that gets in the way of this designing aspiration is the sheer quantity of brilliant designs by other people that I want to knit up, my mental queue is forever extending and I have projects and projects clamouring to be made. Rather than learn from books, straight or "dry", I have learned most of what I know about knitting from knitting other people's designs, looking at how they have achieved different effects and soaking up the technical information that way over the whole of the time I have been knitting. Although all this said, often the act of designing has come out of not being able to find a pattern that exactly meets what I want to make and needing to fill this gap.

Perhaps bizarrely I love writing up patterns and the act of communicating in such a way that my idea can be understood and used by others. Working out how best to convey the combination of creative ideas with the technical information needed is a process I find very deeply satisfying. Even if it involves having to admit that my maths teacher was right - maths can be useful!

So this coming year I aspire to design more, I am still fascinated by colour-work but also more generally by the traditional styles and techniques of knitting, particularly as practised in this country in the past and using these ideas and taking them into the present and the future, re-casting them. At least my training as a historian is not going to waste, just being used in a very different way than I would ever have envisaged.


I know that technically Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week ended yesterday, but I got rather behind over the weekend, life sometimes overtakes even the best of intentions.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Day five - And now for something completely different

Only I'm afraid there's nothing that different happening here folks. I lack the energy to work out something vastly different and imaginative. Instead I'm going to say thank you.

Thank you to Jess and Casey Forbes, the imaginative geniuses behind, a website I believe I mention very occasionally on here. Their site has enriched my life in so many ways, in bringing me friends, knowledge, support, inspiration, joy and even laughter. Anybody who thinks up giving everyone's avatar a little hat (or other piece of headgear) for April Fools' Day richly deserves the title of genius. Today ravelry has been peppered with shining toppers, William Tellesque apples, witches, wizards, crowns, cowboy hats, halos and many more, even some penguins.

I myself had a bright parrot perching upon my head for the day, which cheered me up no end, the whole thing did. Thank you Casey and Jess for helping me to laugh on a day when I woke up feeling awful and thought it was just another of those days, thank you for turning it around. Thank you for your creativity, hard work and humour.