I spend an inordinate amount of time MAKING. It is one of my greatest joys. It can also be a source of tremendous anxst: my inner critic is always more sophisticated than my skill set. Always. This is an uncomfortable truth, and yet, if I give the critic her due—and not one fraction more lest she shut me down—the critique helps me grow. Likewise external criticism: the challenge is to be truly open to critique yet not dominated by it. My ability to manage this balance with grace shifts with mood and circumstance, and while I would, as a professional, hope to always be, well, PROFESSIONAL about it, in my heart of hearts I am ever vulnerable.
Some simple, gentle, and loving work is a tremendous antidote to the strain of perfectionism, and the always subjective nature of any judgement of art and design. Craft and Art are not really separate in my mind, except that objects created for USE seem to follow a much simpler set of rules. Does it work? Does it do what it is supposed to do? Does it hold together and endure? Does it feel good / smell good / taste good / help someone, somehow?
My current preferred craft is knitting. It is a contemplative, creative act. I enjoy the process of imagining, planning, making, sharing. The final piece is less important than the process. Sometimes it is really smart work, requiring a great deal of focus and attention. Sometimes it is simple & repetitive. It always settles me—or helps me to clarify what keeps me from settling.
This weekend I sorted my stash. I organized my five cartons of yarn by fibre and weight, and let go of 3 bags of yarn I do not love. Someone else will benefit from that yarn, which I will deliver to the Goodwill Store soon. I do not need to keep it. How freeing!
And today, I see on the knitty blog a list of good causes for knitters. I have shared my knitting with loved ones for as long as I have been knitting; but the loving social gift of knitting for people I have not met feels like a profoundly good use of this MAKING impulse. The first cause on knitty's list is truly dear to my heart: knitted caps for underweight babies in developing countries.
My son was born 2 months early, 16 years ago. He has grown up to be a healthy, smart, normal, nearly grown-up kid, and I am truly blessed. When he arrived, he was so tiny I could hold him in the palm of one hand. (And now he is taller than me!) Newborn clothing was outrageously huge—and "normal" newborns seemed monstrously large as well. Kindly, the women's auxiliary at the hospital provided hand-knit hats for the tiniest babies. This helped him stay warm enough outside of the incubator to be held and cuddled, and helped us to see and adore his cuteness. A brand-new, too-small baby is frightening, as is the shock of delivery so far ahead of time. How do you hold, love, feed, and do all the things you planned for those early days with your baby, when they seem too fragile to even touch? With the support of the nurses, we found our way to our deepest bond. And I am grateful for the gentle kindness of the anonymous women who knit for us, for we who never anticipated such a need. I was moved then by the gesture, as I am now in remembering.
I wish to return the kindness. Will you join me?
Save the Children: See Where the Good Goes
More good knitting causes: Interweave Knits