The thing about knitting is that it is a form of meditation. Seriously, it is. When you are following a chart to create a swirl of colour and/or texture, you can be nothing other than present in the moment. I admit plain knitting is more of a background activity for the hands while letting the brain decay gently in front of the television, or turning attention to a conversation with friends. I am talking about something a little more engaging, required to produce more than plan stocking or garter stitch. Something like this for example:
The other thing about knitting that people don’t always realise is that it is 3D maths in action. This is particularly obvious when trying to adapt a pattern to cater for different charts in, say, a fair isle or Scandinavian style.
Today I have been doing battle, in a peaceful way of course, with the pattern known as “The Sarah Lund’s jumper”. The problem is that although the intention in Forbrydelsen, the original series, was to give her a home-made jumper, in the real world of corporate and commercial opportunity, the designers are quite rightly protective of the design. However, £230 for a jumper is a bit steep and as I can knit, and coincidentally have eyes for seeing and a brain for counting, I want to make my own.
The design itself is simple enough, and in fact I have an old fair isle scarf pattern which is basically the same snowflake shape. The pattern is a 15 stitch repeating pattern.
Meanwhile, my knitting patterns for similar jumpers cater for either 20 stitch repeat or 12 stitch repeat, which means I will have to try and adapt them; and the real fun starts when you hit the sections for increasing or decreasing stitches per row. The straight body tube of the main jumper is fine. Get to the yoke / shoulder, and the human body inconveniently slopes. Clearly God is not a knitter. Although She may be a mathematician.
The expert knitters on the knitting forums all dismiss this anxiety with an airy wave of the needles and comments along the lines of “Oh get on with it, EBL, how hard can it be?”
Well, probably not that hard once I have had a go, but I would like it to be right and I am not a quick knitter, so I want to be right first time (to be fair, I always want to be right first time, leading Sigoth to brainwash the Offspringses with the mantra “Mum is always right; even when she’s wrong, she’s right.” It has served us well in retaining familial harmony). For once, instead of rushing in, I have spent the afternoon looking up various patterns and doing long division and counting with all my fingers and toes, until I think I have a pattern I can work with.
In a seemingly unrelated comment, I met a friend in a coffee shop on Saturday and we talked about enhancing our creativity. He is keen to increase his right brain muscle and is working through a programme of activities to help him do so. Being a programmer he is terribly logical and structured, and a little unnerved by the idea of sketching a tree or writing a poem. However, he is making a start, and that is what counts. He is writing stream of consciousness every day, and that made me think of this blog. It’s what I do here – no structure or planning, just dive right in. It started from a challenge to write fifteen minutes a day.
However, then I thought about my other creative outlets, such as knitting, and I realised that what I enjoyed, and found nourishing to my very soulroots, was doing things where I slowed down. Yoga practice, meditation, calligraphy, photography, guitar practice, reading, cooking …all slow me down.
Now, when EBL was a smaller version of herself, back in the heady 1960s, her mother was fond of saying “Never mind dear, you’re built for comfort, not for speed” and it was true. EBL has never been a lean velociraptor of a body. So she makes up for it in her head.
My brain churns along at hyper-speed. My poor hands cannot write fast enough or fingers type quickly enough to keep up with my skittering, dashing, careering thoughtspray. And it is a screen, a barrier, a protective device, a form of extreme sport. I churn and flail and confuse and misdirect everyone around me until they are as muddled and exhausted as I am. When I want to be creative or achieve some kind of quality, either in product or experience, I have to slow down.
Yet I can imagine that some people may stroll casually through the workaday world, and then indulge their productive side by leaping and turning and throwing themselves physically or metaphorically into spinning, buzzing confusion, generating new ideas and thoughts like shining sparks arising from the furnace of creation.
So do you slow down to create or speed up?