Saturday, October 01, 2005

Why knit?

Because in 6th grade home economics class my teacher Miss Roberta Mitchell told me that the madras golf skirt that I had half-heartedly stitched together showed a lack of skill and that my biggest problem was that I "didn't take pride in my work". Ditto for the Shark Pillow. This message would be internalized and come to signify many other endeavors in my life, including my Girl Scout sit-upon, every science lab ever handed in (usually late), the majority of "research" papers written in college and finally my Ph.D.dissertation, an undertaking which took many years to complete and was characterized by the phrase "just scan for quotes".
Why such a lackluster history of project completion?
I took up knitting several years ago during a job-loss crisis brought on by--surprise!--the unfinished dissertation. Knitting quickly became a pass time that alleviated the anxiety and stress brought on by the unfortunate circumstances I had created for myself. I embraced this tactile activity, at first as another form of procrastination but gradually as a way of redefining my relationship to my work. The process of casting on, purling the purls and knitting the knits and after many moments finally casting off gives form to an inchoate ball of yarn and occasionally yields a finished, end product.
Or doesn't.
For me satisfaction ensue from the process and not so much the product. I think perhaps knitting, more than any other activity, including junior high home ec projects and scholarship, has taught me to inhabit the process rather than focus on the end result. Most of the projects I've begun remain unfinished, but unlike the world of work, this has had no negative consequences. A certain yarn captures my imagination and I start a scarf or sock, I work on it for a time and it serves a purpose at that moment, I put it down and return to it later.

1 comment:

VirginWool said...

It's amazing how simple hobbbies and pastimes can be so comforting and help with grief. I can relate as I began knitting for similar reasons...