Friday, December 26, 2008

Why?

After Practical Crocheter's somewhat philosophical post, a little introspection seemed appropriate for this time of year. With all of the economic turmoil so many of us face this year, many are having to cut back on what we do, prioritize, choose. In my case, I'm also expecting a new addition to the family in short order, and the things I physically can do are limited. How could all this possibly apply to needlework, you ask?

Of course, it's easy to go into a yarn store and drop a small fortune on luxury and novelty fibers, and that's not necessarily possible anymore. But it's a little deeper than that. "Why" is part of the learning process. It's hard to learn something that has no purpose, as most high school math students complain at one point or another. Needlework is the same way.

I taught a friend to knit recently. She needed something to keep her hands busy and to distract her mind as she struggles through a difficult divorce. In my experience working at yarn stores, I explained that I'd only work with her on stuff she was actually going to use in her projects. I wasn't going to be a stickler for technique or insist that she learn things she didn't plan on using. From what I've seen, putting pressure on someone about the thing they're using for stress relief isn't helpful, and they won't learn very well. My friend has done a lot of knitting in the last couple months, and the things I didn't correct her about early on have ironed themselves out as her projects have demanded increasing levels of proficiency.

As we approach new projects, it is important for us to think about why we are doing that project at that time. Is it for stress relief, to stay occupied, because we need the finished project? If I need stress relief, I'm not going to choose a complicated project, because I want a break from thinking; but if I need to be occupied, I might choose something a little more demanding so that my mind is amused as much as my hands. Currently, I'm making things that I actually need for the baby. Why should I buy ready made things, when I've already paid for all the materials? And I've generally chosen simple designs, because I'm working on a deadline.

In the coming year, it may make needlework more satisfying to be more thoughtful about it. As you begin a project, ask yourself why you want to make it and if the thing itself is in line with your needs at the time. As we all cut back and prioritize, let's make the things we choose more deeply enjoyable.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This is about the time of year I start planning next year’s Christmas gifts -- because I sure didn’t have time to finish the ones for this year.

This is a time of contrasts: Some things, I can do; other things, I can’t. Peace is in knowing the difference -- I keep having to learn that lesson. Some years I look at how much money I spend and how much effort I make, see how little joy it brings, and wonder what the point is. There is a balance between the effort I make and what I see in response. When the season feels like a competition, there’s something not quite right.

The last time I went to a Christmas Eve service, it seemed like only a handful of folks in a full church were singing out loud. I felt embarrassed to be one of them -- but what is the point of mumbling through “Joy to the World”? It is going to be a while before I have the energy to try that again.

And then, I am lucky to have a friend who still bakes and gives cookies for the season -- even through the economic hardships going on in her life.

I listened to some music yesterday: a CD made by the music group at my old school. It brought tears to my eyes as my heart felt back home for a minute. Then I remember that it’s not about what I do, it’s about why I do it. If I spend all my energy paying attention to all the stuff going on around me, I cannot possibly know why I am doing anything. So this is a time to cut back: Don’t do what I cannot afford to do. Don’t do things I don’t understand why I am doing it. Appreciate what I have. And share.

That sharing is in the socks for my sweetie. He will get them just a little late, but that’s ok.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Amusement

Sometimes reading a pattern can be frustrating. All of the acronyms and abbreviated ways of saying things make it seem like a whole different language.

That frustration has been put in delightful terms over at Little House in the Suburbs

Have a click over, and enjoy.