Monday, November 1, 2010

Crazy or creative - I get to decide

I just pulled out the stitches of a sweater I knit. I've done that before, but this time I've done it twice in a row. There's been days of knitting time and about 1200 yards of yarn now unknit, so to speak. Yarn becomes an object, and then the object is gone. Start again, another object now has seemingly disappeared into thin air. Presto! The magic of knitting and unknitting! The yarn now has the worn look of a well loved sweater.

I haven't done this much ripping out since I was a newbie knitter (and a perfectionistic). These days, I'm more apt to leave mistakes in my knitting and call them "being a human."

This ripping out adventure is more about discovery (often referred to as "creative process"). I've got a lot of this yarn, in an abundance of colors, and they are just screaming to be used in a painterly manner. I've experimented with strategies of pre-planning when I change colors, and what to change them to, so that they present themselves in a random fashion to me, forcing me to give up control.. I want to see the beauty of olive and orange sitting right next to each other, which I do in nature, but seem to find nearly loathsome in man-made objects. However, after two attempts, I have decided that while this is an interesting exercise, the finished objects have been too ugly to wear. My third attempt to knit a sweater out of this yarn will still employ some random "color non-decision", but I believe I'm going to be more intentional this time, though maybe not; I may simply employ yet another strategy. This ripping out and starting over again is not about not being able to live with a mistake I've made and it's not entirely about results. I love to knit for the sheer love of feeling the yarn moving through my fingers, and those balls of yarn are not an indictment but an enticement.

Thoughts of compulsivity and perfectionism come up. I say hello and counter, "I'm being creative, not crazy." As the title says, "I get to decide." My behavior is not hurting anyone else, so no one is going to lock me up if I unravel this sweater twice or even twenty times. If I wind up unraveling yarn while naked in the street, then we have a problem.

Well, if I called it "performance art", I would be fine, though I'd probably have to fight it in court.


Dick Fischbeck said...

I can see reusing yarn over and over. Sounds like experimenting to me.

Vanessa said...

I was drawn to your blog by that beautiful picture of your multi-coloured wool, though I can quite understand that it might look better unknit than made up into a garment. My partner is forever teasing me about my wool hoarding habit - I like the look of it in its balled state and it feels comforting to have lots of the stuff around should I get the urge to knit with it.
I do have several unfinished knitting projects on the go as it happens, including one involving a toy hippo. I sewed a leg on the other night with the seam facing the wrong way, and had to carefully amputate it and sew it on again. My mother used to say of all knitting - and sewing up - mistakes: "Oh don't worry - it'll press out", but I think her positivity may have been misplaced!

Vanessa aka runraglan

Julie H. Rose said...

I gave away a lot of mine before I moved at the end of last winter. Glad I did it (and I have plenty left), but there's ONE yarn I wish I still had.

I find balls of yarn comforting, too. I'm sitting in front of about 30 of them right now. Better than cookies in my book!

You remind me that I was knitting a teddy bear, and forgot about it. . .another project left behind as I get excited about a new one. It's okay. They get finished or unraveled at some point. . .