I was in the mood to knit the other day.
So I went into my
really pretty Thai basket of UFOs and dug up a boyfriend sweater project that I started for my husband years ago. This sweater is a beaut’! Richly textured with an all-over traveling cable pattern, every stitch is part of a cushy, crumpled, gloriously plaited pattern. All wrought in a dark mallard blue that will make my husband look seriously handsome.
As I reacquainted myself with this elaborate project (looked for the right sized needles, remembered what size I was knitting . . . ) I marveled at my work thus far. I am not the best knitter I know
not even close but years ago, I knit the lion’s share of this beautiful pattern. I was grateful for the hours I had put in. And I was grateful for hyper-creative days when I’m ready to take on a super-human creative feat.
But that’s not every day.
Some days are more like Craft Level: Mellow. Days when I want to work with my hands, or dream up something beautiful, but not ride some bucking bronco of an idea. Days when I’m happy to knit 20 rows of a linen stitch. Just me and some knit slip purl knitting click click click. Or days when I can sit at my sewing machine and piece a simple tunic. The white noise of my machine humming, my thoughts melting into a perfect flatline. For what they are, I love these days. I love just working with my hands, and enacting a project already planned out. These are the peaceful-placid days of “making.”
Even other days are Craft Level: Shopgirl. Days when I take care of creative “housekeeping” chores. Like folding fabric in my studio, or returning beads from neglected projects. For what they are, I love these days, too. Sometimes it’s fun to keep house and maintain the creative life I love so much. That’s not to say that these Shopgirl days are some creative void. No. They’re more a latent period. As I group paint pots by color, or catalog postcards or calico prints, my mind takes in color combinations, and fleeting images. And without the impetus of active creating, my mind can passively file away the raw materials of inspiration for another day . . .
The day of Craft Level: Frida! Hyper-creative days when my ideas trip over each other in a torrent. Days when I dream up a mammoth project and make it happen. Like when a canyon swim spurns the need to make a South American quilt . . . no . . . a whole collection of South American quilts! With glitter!
No, you can’t glitter a quilt! Or can you? . . . Down to my studio, fabric stacked and studied, cutting mat cleared, blade sharpened and go! Ideas change course on a dime, as new projects interweave with old tricks, making some new bastard brainchild. I have so many quick sketches from these days that when I happen on them later, I just shake my head and remember that these must have been brilliant at the time! What they are now, I don’t know.
While I wouldn’t want to keep up such a lunatic level all the time, I need these days. Desperately. These days that power the whole operation, generating enough ideas and energy, that make me a maker.
And when the high is gone and I’m back to normal, it’s funny to assess the aftermath. Like the morning after some epic party. Sometimes I have a finished pair of mittens: pattern drafted, yarn wound, pattern knit, and ends woven in. Ready for sale. Other times I have an almost-good idea of a project that, when evaluated is better sold for parts. So back to the raw material bins the pieces go: thread and sundries back in their boxes, fabric salvaged with useful pieces folded, and scraps thrown away.
And other times, a great project gets set aside for a spell. Secretly, this is my favorite outcome. These projects lend me the best of both worlds. I dreamt up some ambitious project and rode the thrill ride of those early manic steps of creation. And then, for another day, I gifted myself with a project to work on, to sew or stitch or paint. Or knit.
When I’m in the mood to just knit.