Friday, September 4, 2009

We knit because we love it.

You know how they say there's a difference between a "process knitter/crocheter" and a "project knitter/crocheter"? I'm almost 100% project-oriented.

That's not to say that I don't enjoy the feeling of the stitches, or having something to do with my hands, or seeing the piece come together as I'm working on it. I love and adore those things. It's just that I only ever pick projects that I want to have. I don't pick things to work on to learn new techniques or stitch patterns; if I learn those in the process of making something beautiful, that's fine. But I'm always oriented towards the end product.
(This is true of everything in my life actually. I'd be much happier if I were more Zen about things. But I digress.)

This has the tendency to make me a very impatient crafter. I have a very low tolerance for a large swath of boring repetitive stitches to slog through. And, since my goal is to have a beautiful end-product, I have very, very little patience with myself when it comes to making mistakes or executing new things imperfectly.

On the other side of the personality spectrum is my knitter/crocheter/yogi friend Elspeth. She taught herself to knit...left-handed. And working side-to-side instead of turning the work. Basically she made it up as she went along and worked it out and she makes beautiful things, but more importantly she loves doing it.
This makes her a patient, happy, fearless crafter.
(This is also pretty much true of everything in her life. Is knitting always a microcosm of personality?)

One night at Stitch 'n' Bitch a fellow knitter was having one of those familiar breakdowns, frustrated and aggravated and ready to throw the darn thing against the wall and snap the needles over her leg (surely we can all relate). Elspeth looked up from her (patient, happy) stitching and said, calmly and cheerfully, "Remember! We knit because we love it!"

I am officially attempting to adopt this as my crafting motto. Or mantra, more appropriately.

A few weeks ago Elspeth moved to Boston to start grad school. (I think we're all a little or a lot heartbroken. But obviously also excited and happy for her.) In SnB DC tradition we all secretly made squares to put together a blanket for her as a farewell gift.
Traditionally when these things get made, what happens is everybody knits squares, and since I, up until recently, was a pure crocheter (pure non-knitter), I would crochet the border and that's all I would contribute. I was always happy to have some little piece I could contribute. But this time I could really knit! I was told that others would be crocheting their squares, so I could "just crochet some too", but I was determined.

I am not a skilled knitter; I knew that everyone else's would be a lot fancier, a lot more interesting, a lot, well, better. But I wanted to show what I could do, even if it wasn't much.
So I made these:

(apologies for the cruddy pictures, I only managed to get them when they were blocking in my dark basement)

The one on the left is eyelet lace. I do realize this is the easiest lace pattern on the planet, but man when I figured out how to do it I was so stinking proud of myself. Seriously. I e-mailed people to brag. So I know it's not that fancy. But Elspeth is the one who told me that lace was hard but I should do it. She's never considered anything too difficult not to try, including joining the Peace Corps (which I admit would scare me quite a bit) and teaching herself to knit on dpns (which terrifies me). So in honor of her I tried something new, just to see if I could.

And it turns out I can.

We miss you Elspeth. Happy first week of grad school!