I've received a lot of nice comments about how people can't believe I've only been knitting since January, and I feel I should point out that I am an architect. I went to art school. I've been making things my whole life. My mother knit when I was growing up and I did learn as a child. And while it's true that I don't remember actually knitting anything, and the only thing I could remember was literally how to knit (I had to relearn everything else including casting on, binding off and purling) it's not like I had never picked up needles before now.
It feels very familiar, not just the action of knitting itself, but the whole process of selecting raw materials and figuring out how to manipulate them into a three dimensional object that starts out existing only in your head or in the form of written instructions and perhaps some diagrams. I'm reminded of design studio in school where you know that what you design is not going to be built, at least not beyond what you yourself can do, and essentially you are designing and making your final architectural model through sketches and drawings and research and "sketch models."
As a professional architect, the experience is much more collaborative, especially as I have become more of a project leader than a production person, so I am directing rather than making as far as drawings and models go, and the final product, a building, is even more removed from something I create with my own two hands.
I think that's one of the reasons I am so in love with knitting - it is bringing me back to the process of making something by hand. Remember, back in architecture school, all my drawings, with a few exceptions at the very end, were hand drafted. And I've always loved making things, starting with the Blue Peter style handmade gifts I designed for my family when I was little.
It's funny though, I was terrible at "needlework" which we did in school. Ok I don't think I was terrible but I was very slow. The pinacle of thrills when I was ten or eleven was that we got to make a "sleeping puppy" - a really cute little soft toy. I seem to remember being so slow finishing the previous project that I almost didn't get to make the sleeping puppy!
Our teacher used to read to us from Wind in the Willows or the "Just William" books as we sewed. Now I have podcasts and audio books!
One of the things I love about knitting is how you can create these amazing, three dimensional objects out of a single linear thread, in essence, a line. And all this through variations on a single stitch - a loop looped through a loop. And in one tug you can basically unravel the whole thing. A line doesn't take up three dimensional space. It's like making something out of nothing. It seems like such an optimistic process, creative in the literal sense, and so elemental. Perhaps that is why it is so healing and restorative a process. Words, for example, seem like much more of a social construct in comparison.
Clothing is also very elemental. Clothing, food and shelter - it doesn't get much more basic than that. It's kind of amazing that I enjoy creating all three these days. It has defintely improved my quality of life and I feel very lucky and glad.
(Hee, this project strikes me as particularly funny and Blue Peter-like - make a Dr Who Tardis out of an orange juice carton!!!!! Wait, it gets better... you can also make one that is a bird feeder!!!!! Back in the day, they were always making things out of toilet rolls.)
Originally written May 2nd, 2007