Sunday, 14 April 2013

Real knitting guilt

First there was guilt about not being able to cook 'properly' for the 30-something generation brought up on supermarket convenience food, now apparently comes guilt about not being able to knit, because in their formative years shop-bought knitwear (or anything-wear) was much better than anything home-made (which of course had the whiff of the Women's Institute and granny's Horlicks, two things which have now also made a comeback).

Shop-bought jumper (I know, I bought it!), cute dog...
Reading 'Red' magazine recently, it seems that knitting has made it to the list of new essential 'life skills' for the 30-something trend-savvy woman- about-town. It's up there now with being able to cook an exciting meal with four ingredients from your fridge that no-one knows how to pronounce properly, baking a light sponge that doubles as an eye-catching table decoration/conversation piece and dressing your home attractively yet inexpensively only from items you'd find in a High Street hardware shop and soft drinks cans.

The most amazing cake ever made!
A very nice edible conversation piece
Maybe it's just me but this idea that knitting is an essential new 'must-have' (like a designer bag that can carry your essentials and your small dog in an appropriately organised manner) feels wrong. It's being desired not for anything it offers but because 'everyone' it seems is suddenly doing it and that makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

a puppy in the purse
Positioned  somewhere between the keys, the sweeteners and the spare tights I think
Knitting is strange because it is both a wholly practical occupation and at the same time a magical one. Show me something else that starts with such unpromising material ie a jumbled mess of stuff that looks like string and instruments of possible torture, gives hours of steadily building expectation and arrives at a destination that is so satisfying that (assuming it has come out 'right') it can keep you feeling pleased with yourself for possibly years.I do it because I love that feeling of creating something from nothing and it's not just about the something, it's about the feeling of creating too.

To acquire a knitted piece, whether to wear or in my case more likely textile art to put on the wall, by wielding those needles and yarn in clickety-click style is a great creative way to spend time. And maybe the most important point there is that it does mean spending time (and a lot of it) to create something that is more meaningful than the standard scarf you can learn to 'knit-in-an-evening' project. A project like this usually consists of a pair of giant needles that can double as replacement coffee table legs, one ball of oversized fluff-out-a-lot yarn and gives you with a tricky to wear scarf/snood/cowl (delete as applicable).

Giant knitting needles
Certainly get a scarf knitted quick with these babies!
And maybe that's at the heart of my unease; to want something only because everyone else has it or does it is a motivation that is a bit shallow for an activity that needs a bit more commitment than that.

So don't feel guilty if you can't knit; although you might want to feel guilty because you jump at whatever the 'next big thing' is, because you want to 'do it' in one quick how-to session and because you're only filling the gap until the next 'next big thing' comes along. But try digging out the unfinished knitting project, that you tidied away into the back of the cupboard three years ago when you were having visitors round and feel constantly that you should get round to finishing off sometime, now that's real knitting guilt!

When I'm not feeling guilty about projects in the back of the wardrobe I'm creating textile art.
Check out my gallery; and you can follow me on Twitter

photos courtesy of Flickr except the jumper one which is courtesy of me

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