I thought I might start 2015 by writing a bit regarding a project that I have been working with on and off over the the past few years. I don’t think I realized it was a project until I had noticed a pattern to how I approached what I was doing and then, without setting out to do so exactly, the small project was born. Ach! I sure can beat around the bush and ramble on, can’t I? Well, please indulge me just a while longer, if you will.
I had a terrible time making friends when I was younger. I just didn’t understand how people came together, connected and moved on from there to form the bonds of friendship, I suppose. It all seemed like such a production and I didn’t know how to even initiate the process. I started a very bad habit of giving my toys away around that time. I figured if you give people things, then they have to like you, right? In the case of 7 year old girls it does not mean that at all, no – it only means that they keep expecting you to give them more stuff. Pretty soon my Barbie doll collection was looking awfully meager and I came to the conclusion that this just was not working for me and I closed up shop. Around that time we moved from Ohio to Florida; this presented a new set of challenges for me and shifted my focus to other things and what do you know – once I stopped focusing on desperately getting schoolmates to like me, well, they started to like me a bit more.
I think about it though, every now and then. Giving away beloved possessions to people you barely know – from a child’s perspective that might make good sense and as a grade-schooler I didn’t really know any better, but as an adult I still get terribly embarrassed whenever it crosses my mind. I resolved long ago to save my nice things for folks who were actually worthy of them.
One summer evening, back in 2012, I was knitting a shawl from some grey wool that resembled wispy fog and felt like low morning mists as it slipped through my fingers. It made me think of a lovely, brilliant woman with whom I’d had some correspondence online and who I greatly admired. I posted photos on Instagram of the finished item when I had just woven in the last stray end, and strangely enough, she was the very first person to comment on the picture. It just sort of clicked for me right then: I think maybe I was knitting the shawl for her all along.
And so it has been over the last two years. Sometimes I will start a project with no one in particular in mind, and over the course of the yarn choosing, the pattern repetition and the trances induced by midnight hypnostitches – it just comes to me. Ah! This shade of red would be perfect for this person’s fiery, feisty personality! Oooh, this dark night blue would be marvelous for that incredible space babe! Or sometimes, someone will know just the right words to say to me after my mother has died, just the perfect combination of gentle, thought provoking kindness and reflection, and I will know that the next project I am going to embark on will be a journey through mourning and forgiveness and that particular person is going to be a part of it, every step of the way. It can’t belong to anyone else but them when it is finished.
It all sounds a little silly, and maybe a little crazy, doesn’t it? And how do I know anyway, that anyone will even want my shabby handmade things? I do hope that everyone who has received something from me in the recent past knows that what I have given them is because they gave me something I needed first. A moment of levity during a rotten day, a compliment, a beautiful story, a provocative thought, some small measure of kindness.
Below is a bit of a gallery of some of the projects I have worked on and subsequently sent away over the past few years. It should be noted that a few of these are actually swaps with other creative folks, who may have sent me one of their handicrafts for one of my knits. And it was also called to my attention that I may have started doing this long before I realized I was doing it! Lovely E. sent me a photo of a sari silk scarf that I must have knit 7-8 years ago! Wow. I hope to continue this practice for a long while. Thank you for not being too weirded out about it, and for your kindnesses to me over the years.