Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creative Blog Hop!

There's a thread being spun in the blogisphere. A thread of shared thoughts on why and how we create what we do. I was invited to participate by my Squam roomie, Austen of The Marmalade Jar. (She shared her thoughts here.) She is a writer, maker, lover of words, and punster extraordinaire. The first two are apparent in the blog. The other two you'll have to catch in her Twitter feed. If you've found your way here from her blog, welcome. Make yourself at home.

My task is to get a little introspective. Not something that comes too naturally, I'll admit. But the first question is pretty straight forward: What am I working on now?

Things have been simplified lately. I think this is still an effect from taking a long trip in June. I "tidied" up the projects before I went and didn't pick up too many after I got back. And it's a busy time of year for me so I have less time. But I do have projects:

1. Wool-Aid Socks. This past spring, I made a commitment (to myself) to work on charity socks for my "travel knitting", that is the knitting I have in my purse and work on away from the house. I like to knit socks, but was getting too many pair. (Is there such a thing? Apparently.) This also relieved me of the decision of what to take with and made me always prepared with something "easy" to go. Now I just have to make sure I have some wool and I'm set. (I make simple ribbed socks and don't need any kind of pattern.) The ones you see here are my third pair.

2. The Hari Scarf by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. I just started this one. Olga is a great designer that I've been following for a while. (Website here.) I love that the knitting moves into the third dimension. In this yarn I bought on our trip to the Rockies, I see either waves on an ocean or blue mountains. (Or dinosaurs, I have to admit.)

3. And some projects I haven't pulled out in a while. Fingerless gloves for a gift, but they ended up being too big and I haven't reworked them yet. The second mitten to a purple cable set. Quilts. Oh the quilts. My red and yellow Kaffe Fasset fabrics quilt is still waiting for the quilting to be finished. There's the Kentucky flower quilt that I'm hand quilting. I don't think that will ever be finished. (You have to actually work on it for something to get finished, right? I think I heard that somewhere.) And the Hawaiian star top that I haven't considered quilting yet. But I'm ok with that. Making quilts is a long process for me.

4. And then there's this:
Ripping apart the upstairs. Before you're too impressed, rest assured that my husband did the bulk of the work. Eventually our whole house will be redone and these rooms are somewhere in the middle.

You may not think it's creative work, but I find I use the same parts of my brain for working on the house. You're always problem solving. And making do with what you have. Or making up for "surprises" that pop up. In many ways it's not very different whether it's running out of yarn for a sweater (colour block, anyone? add stripes?) or finding out that wall I wanted to remove is a load-bearing wall (partial wall with an arch? support posts?). I just wish that the house remodel didn't resemble my quilting more than my knitting (i.e. a long process).

Next question: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well. I don't design my pieces and generally follow other people's patterns, but I know enough about how I like to knit and what I think makes a well-made garment that I liberally change things to suit me. I don't often see why it's such a big deal, but others tell me my stuff is just really well done. In all the little details and the big picture. It seems easy to me, but they talk about it like it's really hard.

I think a more significant way my work may differ is how I go about it. Without fear for one thing. No fear of failure. (You can always rip out knitting--unless it's mohair but you know that going in.) I am astounded when I overhear conversations in the knit shop and all these people can say is "But what if..." "But how do I..." "Oh I could never... " Just try it people, and see. It's not rocket science. At least, not to me. I may not do something because I don't like it, but not because I think I can't.

Now my quilts, I hardly ever follow a pattern. I look at patterns. But if it's made from triangles and squares (and I don't piece curves so that's all I've got), then I can make it up after looking at the picture. But again, no fear. Absolute confidence in my colour choices. And if later I realize they weren't the best choice, it's a learning experience. (And styles in quilts change more quickly than I finish a quilt so sometimes it's hard to know if my choices were wrong or just bound by the time they were made.)

Why do I write/create what I do?
Now we're really getting introspective. I'll say first off that I don't really think I can answer that. I enjoy it. But that just begs another why. But it's not the enjoyment where everything is fun and wonderful. Sometimes it's a slog, sometimes it hurts (like when knitting a dense fabric), sometimes it's boring, but always it's good...if you believe in the end product. If you're making something you don't really want to do, it's all awful. (This is the same relationship I had with math. Absolutely loved it. Would become so frustrated when it wasn't working, but couldn't put it down. And then epiphany followed by ecstasy.) That's knitting.

Quilting is done more for the end product. Can I get an idea to work its way into reality?

I haven't done enough weaving to know for sure. I enjoy the weaving itself--managing all that string!--but the set up and preparation is enough to keep me from doing it very often. (So far.)

And of course, sometimes I create just because I know someone else will enjoy the end product. And in that case even if I don't really like what I'm making, it's still enjoyable because they will like it. And it makes me feel useful and like I'm actually contributing something.

How does my writing/creating process work?
Oo, so much thinking. Most of the time, ideas percolate for a long time before I act on them. Sometimes ideas die in this stage. Usually that is for the best if they do. But the ones that get done suddenly come to life when the right pattern comes along, or the right yarn, or the right mood. Then--boom--it's started and gets finished in fairly straight-forward manner. That's knitting, again.

As I've said, quilting takes longer. But most of the creative work is done up front. Piecing the top is almost purely mechanical. Maybe that's why I always leave picking the border and binding for the end--it gives me one more chance to make some creative decisions.

In either case, I generally stick to the plan as I'm working while always adjusting for things that come up. Maybe the dyelots don't match as well as you thought. Or you're running out of yarn (or time). I'm not hung up on the original plan if there's a reason to change it. And I don't feel the need to make all the decisions at the beginning. If you have enough to get started, then get started. (On this green dress, for example,
I had no idea what the embroidery was going to be like. Just that there would be something on the skirt. The gold trim was also something that occurred to me to do while I was knitting.)

I think I've gone on for long enough! Time to pass the torch.

I have asked "The Yarnista" (Holly) of Holly Knits to answer these same questions and keep the hop going. Holly is a fellow lover of Vogue Knitting magazine and you can see many of her beautiful works here on her Ravelry page. (And for those of you who read the magazine, you may recall her two-page profile spread in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue! I know...gush gush.)

Aaannnd, I asked Mary Fons of She is the creator of Quilty and co-host of the Fons and Porter "Love of Quilting" TV show with her mom, Marianne Fons. She also is a great writer--I enjoy her blog Papergirl a lot--and has a serious history in the theater arts. Can't wait to read what she has to say!

So watch their blogs (Holly's and Mary's) for an upcoming post, and thanks for reading!

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