I finished my shoulder wrap tonight. I knitted on it for a week, and added 7 buttons so I could have options for wear. I didn't have a pattern. I'd just been eyeing a cowl that Catriona Balfe has worn on Outlander, and decided to try my own design.
I started last week with my favorite color of Homespun yarn, Wildfire. It took me a few hours that day to crochet it, and when I was finished....
... I hated it. It wasn't wide enough, and the thick yarn killed what drape it could have had. I blame the fact that I crocheted it. Crochet makes for thick, stiff stitches at times. I also became frustrated after trying for two hours to end a stitch pattern I've been successfully completing since I was a teenager. It suddenly didn't make sense to me.
Twilight Zone time indeed. I wonder what was going wrong in my brain.
So it hurled it aside and decided on a knitted shawl instead. It would take forever to complete, unskilled as I am at knitting, but it would certainly drape when finished.
And so it does, in a very warm and color flattering way. I just have to choose a day to wear it -- a day when my give-a-damn about others' opinions of my clothes is broken. I could have a wider variety in my wardrobe if I wasn't so insecure about being judged for my handmades. I had a lifetime of that already, and I can't say I've gotten over it. I should just accept that I'm an artist and I will be different in the things I create. I need to forget the lifetime of ridicule I've endured for expressing my talent. (Though one could argue that it's just well-learned skill, after all, and I'm just good with my hands.)
I wish people would ask something other than, "You made that, didn't you?" Because you have to be really cautious with tone when saying that. Most of the time it sounds like judgmental scorn. I would much rather be asked in a delighted tone, "Where did you get that? I love it!" I need to hear a flattering response to my work, not one borne of jealousy that someone didn't want to invest the time in learning a handcrafting skill.
As the kids say, "Haters gonna hate." My response is, "Don't hate -- appreciate." It usually earns some giggles.
My 14 year old nephew asked me to teach him to knit a few days ago. He also wanted tips on how to replace the button that broke off his favorite pair of jeans. (Last year at this time he had a huge list of items he wanted me to make for him -- hats, gloves, sweaters, hoodies...). He has had a serious liking for knits for years. Now he'd like to try making some himself. It's probably because I'm too busy to whip up a hat whenever he wants one, and because he has some unexpressed creative talent himself.
We were sitting in the local coffee shop, and I was working on my shawl. I said that I wish there were knitting groups locally that I could join. I'd even be willing to teach a few people if it didn't become all about me spending my time and money doing things for them, and not getting to do anything for myself with like-minded crafters.
But when I've tried, people tend to think that because you're a teacher, you should spend your time serving them whenever they want. At your own expense and to the detriment of your own relationships and personal time. They get downright snotty about their supposed entitlements. They don't want to buy their own materials or tools for learning, because you should buy for them -- or worse, loan them your supplies, and just never get them back. I'm a teacher -- get it? Teacher = poor. The only things I'm wealthy in are learning and skill -- intangibles.
Sure... Let me go and spend $100 on special yarn so that you can have that lush blanket you always wanted. I don't need groceries for the next two weeks. What's that? It's not easy to make it perfect the first time? You need to practice but you don't want to? Sure, just throw all that yarn I paid for away, along with my tools. That's just fine. I can afford it. After all, I end up buying school supplies for your kids out of my own grocery money.
When my nephew asked me to teach him, we made the requested trip to Jo-Ann, which is finally here in my hometown. He asked me a very important and puzzling question -- why are all the learn-to-knit books specifically for females? They're covered in pink and girly projects. I explained that knitting used to only be done by the men of the community, in the knitting guild. Different families had their own sweater cable patterns for fishing. When a fisherman drowned and they couldn't identify the body because of being in the water, they'd ID him by the pattern of his sweater. Wool sweaters will keep you warm even when they're wet. The lanolin also helps to repel water, if it's left in the yarn. I told him that I figured when men stopped knitting in favor of more industrial jobs, that the women took it over and were so excited that they wouldn't let it go. So you see, knitting is actually masculine work, and it all depends on what you're making. Sorry about all the girly books and patterns. Later I found him lots of examples of men who still knit very publicly.
I bought him yarn and a circular needle, and we went to dinner with his dad. He was so eager to get started, we began while we were waiting on our food. My brother watched him for a little while, and when he realized, my nephew told him not to make fun of him learning to knit. His dad waited for a moment and told him he wouldn't make fun of him because our mother taught him to knit when he was a little boy. :). (The only child of a crafty stay-at-home mom.). The young man gawked for a few moments until his dad advised him not to ask him for help because he's just about forgotten it all. He did caution him that bragging about learning to knit would likely cause his friends to make fun of him.
His answer? "They make fun of me all the time anyway. I don't care." I guess that's how boys that age are with their friends, so I'll try not to worry about it. He's got a pretty thick skin, it seems. He may or may not have the interest to keep knitting, but I'm proud of him for wanting to learn a new skill. It's a great way to add to your brainpower.