Thursday, 29 September 2011

Following your own pattern

I’ve always formed my knit stitches the ‘wrong’ way – I knit each stitch through the back loop (ktbl in knitting shorthand). Under some circumstances it makes no difference – the stitches either ‘untwist’ depending on what I’m doing as I knit back along the next row, or they form a particularly tight kind of stitch that actually works quite well for the majority of simple patterns.

But if I start to knit lace, where you make holes deliberately, my work starts to ‘fail’. Here’s what I mean – the stitches are often dropped and then loops made to bridge the gap. If you knit through these the wrong way, what was intended as a shape in the design can end up leaving very little hole in the fabric at all. Or it can create holes where the pattern did not intend them.

The lacy motifs can end up not resembling the pretty pattern image at all. Where did I go wrong?
I have my own way of doing things, and I’m trying to be true to my own vision and values. I am very lucky to have grown up in an environment and been part of a community where, by in large, everyone was making their fabric in their own way, the way that felt best.

And some of them weren’t even aware there were patterns to follow.

I soon learned that a lot of the so-called ‘real’ world was not like this. There were certain boxes you would need to fit into, that others could recognize. If you wouldn’t fit, they were puzzled, and often frustrated. It was easy to end up thinking that I needed to change – I thought I had to work with the system to succeed.
Despite being intelligent and good at a number of things, no-one was really too clear on what I could do with my life; least of all me.

Sometimes, the light would dawn, that I was never going to fit into any of those boxes, or be able to follow any of those popular patterns, and I would have to leave my job or move and change to shake things up.
But culture and expectation are powerful, most of all in our own minds – even if we don’t always see that. The wonderful storyteller and Jungian Clarissa Pinkola Estes goes into this in beautiful depth in her audio sessions on this, which I am really enjoying listening to right now.

Currently I’m working on a sweater, which has lacy, bell-like sleeves. I started to make it my own way. But I soon realized that this wasn’t going to work. I decided to change my thinking.

I invented an exotic new stitch, one that was special and for use just on this project. It’s called knit through front loop. Most of you would just call it “knit”.

I have decided that my way is not wrong: it’s just different. By dipping into and re-labeling this bit of knitting culture, in a curious and playful way, I can borrow the mainstream pattern without the need to judge anything.
It’s easy to blame ourselves for not fitting in, to lose confidence, and maybe to continue to do things in ways that feel wrong to us to satisfy the prevailing culture: the inner and the outer cultures both.

I’m waiting to see if the end result looks anything like the pattern.

Even if it does not, I thing I like the results so far.

Thursday, 22 September 2011


My balcony is a great summer habitat.
But in cool, rainy Vancouver, it's useless in the winter.
I tend to retreat to spend long days in my office, for most of the year.

Here's the thing-
I'm not sure I'm all that 'productive' or even creative in my office.
My dream board was two years out of date for a start.
And it's set up to encourage being stuck in front of a screen all day.
Yet I know from past experience I have a lot of my creative ideas away from my desk.

I decided to give myself more options.
First I revamped my dream board and office space - to let in some current ideas:

Then I bought a few new items and rearranged some of my balcony items to make a new habitat:

This is just a small, sunny area at the back of our sitting room, which was unused.

I love the polystyrene head! I have really got into making hats. It's a great way to display them, and photograph them.

I've got some big fabric boxes from Ikea, for throwing knitting and collage supplies into so that I have these on hand. And pink moleskine journals for working things out and jotting down revelations.

Suddenly I feel as though I have way more choice about how and where I work or create around my home. Creativity is sneaking into every room, and it feels good! Plus there is a fluffy rug. If I Add a hot drink and light a scented candle and I think I've just doubled my enthusiasm to get things done.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Things we carry around

Hmmm processing a couple of things that happened today.

First off in a conversation with someone I work for - I was told one of my co-workers (who has financial control and a lot of say over what I get to do) thinks my writing and editing is great but my creative or commercial ideas are "hare brained".

So what does this mean?
I turned it over a bit, processing my resistance and frustration with this individual. And I realise what that person represents to me: a big Stop sign, a creative roadblock, a parent who denies you a treat, a big, fat, creative, NO.

And rather than just being annoyed at that person (been there) I thought about why I was inviting this into my life. Why am I continuing to work with someone who blocks all my ideas? I remember how I got into this situation in the first place - the person I work for, the one I was having the actual discussion with, HIRED ME to change his business, try new things, and, well, have creative ideas.

It's not just me being blocked, it is change and growth in that whole business. Maybe some of my ideas are hare-brained (I don't mind being compared to a hare). Maybe they are just right-brained. But that doesn't make them wrong or less useful.

Another thing that happened - one child I know and one I don't were spitting in each other's faces aggressively in the playground. I didn't hesitate to step in, demand they both apologise, and tell them I was disgusted and I hoped not to see that kind of thing again. (I can be pretty scary, I've been told). So afterwards another parent I know quite well said - "wow, I wouldn't have thought you'd be all strict like that, I thought you were one of those hippy parents."

Interesting food for thought. I probably look like a hippy parent - 99 percent of those there to gather children are well versed in the art of conformity as opposed to self expression. But does being a hippy (if that means non-conformist) mean being OK with violence or abusive behaviour or turning a blind eye? No, I don't think it does. In fact it takes courage both to have a non-standard appearance and to speak up for yourself or others.

So two messages today about how I might be viewed by others. But after checking in with myself, I have a choice about whether to take those comments on board, or even to let them into my space at all. The messages from outside can be pretty strong. I'm remembering to stay true to the messages from inside, guided by my own inner compass.

And the more I think about it, the more it seems I'm right on track.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Yarn harvest...

I had a lovely visit to this North East Alberta yarn shop in Portland, Oregon and came away with some sparkly grey worsted for a sweater project.

This was the first day of a visit that involved a fair bit of Shiva Nata, a practice where you wave your arms around your head in increasingly complicated patterns until your brain becomes truly scrambled. It looks something like this:

Unravelling patterns and making up my own new ones (or maybe just making it up as I go along) was the theme of my visit to the Rally.

Calling this a surreal experience would be an understatement. Strange things happened, seemingly irrelevant activities provoked major insights and any attempt to do what you thought you were there for proved futile - although everyone came away having achieved way more than they thought possible. The magic of elastic time, shmurfling, weird costumes and interviewing monsters all played a part, but the Shiva Nata had the most powerful effect on me. After one session I lost the ability to write. I'm not kidding.

General Portland wackiness just added to the feeling that coming home again was a bit like landing after a trip to another planet. I'm full of fresh ideas and still making some adjustments. I'll find out soon if brain scrambling has any effect on my knitting...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Finding your way

This is the finished Noro entrelac creation, which has found it's way across the sea to New Zealand where it has apparently received a lot of compliments! Yay! I'm hoping to post a pic of the new owner soon.

I'm in Portland, OR, where I've found a fab yarn shop on NE Alberta St and there's no sales tax in Oregon! So I immediately bought some lovely soft yarn to make the French Girl Knits Niobe sweater. (Amazon link to the book at the bottom of the page).

In Portland I'm doing a course with Havi Brooks which is all about destuckification. In other words, changing old habits, making breakthroughs to move forward with projects, and flailing like a broken windmill. I'm finding knitting is a useful theme and metaphor for me during the course - my word for what we appear to be doing is 'unravelling'. I'll post about the outcome in a couple of days!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Portland, Or

Friday, 9 September 2011

A mermaid hat

Today's creation...

There are water droplets running down from the top and all around the brim.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad