October 24, 2006

In the woods

Use what talents you possess--for the woods would be silent if no birds sang but the best.

-Henry Jackson van Dyke.


I think that we, as knitters (and often as women, but that's a long and more complex thing) often diminish our skills. You make something beautiful, you sweat, you curse, you use a calculator and maim reams of graph paper, you rip, you redo, you cultivate a skill...you hang tough and you churn out something remarkable. Something that is the end result of hours and hours of your life and effort, and you feel pretty darned proud of yourself. Then someone walks up to you and says "Wow! Did you make that? That's fantastic/complex/clever" or "You are very talented" and then we as knitters turn to them, look them dead in the eye and say "No, no...it was easy" or "I just followed a pattern" or "It's not that hard...you could do it."


This is an interesting thing to do, considering that we so often complain that we aren't taken seriously as artists or skilled people, and that knitting remains largely undervalued. (We're back to the excellent larger question about women in general again, but I'm resisting.) This desire to make everything we do seem easy, our uncomfortableness with the recognition of our talents, it's a unique approach. Do you think this is something other people do with their skills? Do lawyers say "It was nothing"? Nope. They say "That's $250 an hour. It took me a long time to learn how to do this." How about National League Hockey players? No way. They cop to working out and practicing hours and hours a day. Artists don't say "It was easy." they tell you how they got there, and then because they have respect for their efforts...so do we.


Screw it. Knitting is a skill and some of the stuff we make is a huge reflection of the time we put into developing our skills and from now on I'm going to try and hold myself to a higher standard. I'm going to cop to it being hard when it is. I'm not going to pretend a fancy lace shawl of my own reckoning just fell off my needles the way that sweat falls off wrestlers and just blush myself off demurely into a corner.


The next time someone comes up to me and tells me they think my knitting is awesome, I'm going to do my level best to look them in the eye and say tell them the truth. I'm going to say "Thank you. It was a challenge, but I did it."


My wedding shawl (a little late for the wedding) photographed in Washington State Park on my way home to Toronto yesterday.

Approx. 2000m Habu Textiles Shropshire laceweight on 3mm needles. Top portion inspired by a Tablecloth pattern I adapted, found in The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, The border adapted from Mediterranean Lace found in A Gathering of Lace, and the two patterns were joined together by me in a wave of hard work, sheer luck and wizardry involving some manner of increasing and integration I shall surely never be able to repeat....

...and I am proud.

Posted by Stephanie at October 24, 2006 1:06 PM