I was recently asked what I thought were the kinds of attributes needed to be a good knitter. This was a pub conversation. I was knitting.
To be honest I was a bit stumped. There are lots of attributes that make someone a good knitter but as I rattled of a list of things, I admit I was floundering. To me at least, my answers were sounding just a bit limp.
As I recall, I think I said a bunch of stuff like enjoying the feel of different kinds of yarn, having a good attention to detail, being patient and so on.
In among the waffle, I managed to say ‘enjoying making something out of nothing – taking raw material and turning it into an object.’ So when I was trying to wrap up my floundering, I returned to that point because it seemed to me the best reply.
The woman I was speaking to was asking out of genuine curiosity, I believe. As I offered her my reiteration of the ‘making stuff out of nothing’ explanation she said, ‘But I like to make stuff, too. I just have no interest in wool.’ (She builds things, like chicken coops, for fun).
I seized on that because it seemed to me the salient point. It’s about making stuff. I happened upon wool probably because when I was growing up, it’s what my mum did. I’ve been around wool a long time. In the end, the material that’s chosen is kind of arbitrary. I just ended up a knitter.
I thought of this recently when I read another friend’s post about making a wooden spoon from an olive branch. It’s very cool.
Essentially, to take this
and turn it into this
Is no different to what we do with wool, alpaca, silk or any of the other yarns we use. In that post, Evan describes the art of work with the fibres that make up the wood and shaping them to form something smooth and beautiful. He’s taken a raw material and made it something new and different.
That really struck me. I felt that even though I was reading about woodwork, I was reading my language and so when asked what makes a good knitter, I drew on that understanding. It’s about the material; it’s about the love of making, of creating.
We simply choose our own media. You may have noticed I changed the tag line at the top of my blog from ‘Knitting. Lots of it’ to, ‘I make stuff.’ I did that a week or so ago and I did it because I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that it’s not just knitting for me. Knitting is only one creative outlet. I apply the same love of making stuff to food, to photography, to gardening (when I do it!), to writing and now to sewing. It’s about the creative life, the creative mindset. It’s deeply important to me and helps me cope with the fact that I don’t have a particularly creative job. I might one day, but I don’t right now.
So I make stuff. That’s just what I do and, more importantly, who I am.