Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why Craft?

I’ve always been proud of the fact that I can create something lovely with my hands, whether it’s through counted cross-stitch, sewing or knitting. Many people do not have the ability, interest, or inclination to use their hands to create. I come from a long line of women who knew how to use their hands to make beautiful things as they had little beauty in their lives courtesy of economic challenges beyond their control. They might not have always enjoyed crafting (my mom hated to sew, for example) but they knew how, and they used those skills to make their lives better.

I take great pride in the hand-sewn products I create, but I make sure that they are of the highest quality possible in order to justify that pride.

I struggled for a long time to find my purpose in life, and finally realized that while I do honorable work for a just cause as an accountant for a nonprofit organization, my purpose in life is to create beautiful and useful objects. The two descriptors are key – the objects I make must serve both criteria. You’ll seldom see frou-frou in my work.

When I receive the compliments from Nana Sadie Rose’s customers telling me how impressed they are with the quality of my workmanship and with the practicality of the designs, I know a kind of pride that I could never have imagined before. My sense of purpose is fulfilled.

I don’t usually knit as a part of Nana Sadie Rose. But when I knit in public, I usually end up laughing out loud when someone comes up to me saying..."I wish I could must be a very patient person." Well, no, I’m not. When you learn to knit you need persistence more than patience. When you have a big project (whether it is repetitive or challenging) you need persistence - the sheer determination to understand, master, and muddle through. Persistence.

Patience isn't the most important part of knitting, except that knitting certainly helps me learn to be patient, or at least helps me get through times that demand patience. I knit garter stitch dishcloths and scarves to get through long wait times – at doctors’ offices, craft shows, in airports, on commuter trains (ok, not the last two for some time now, but I have done so in my lifetime). I knit challenging things to get me past periods when I want to move the world around to my way of thinking or doing, and the world lets me know it’s just going to move at its own sweet pace no matter what I want. Those challenging projects make my mind stop obsessing over what I cannot by the sheer force of will make happen. They force me to focus on something else, even if it’s tinking back to correct my mistakes because I’ve let my mind wander. Knitting makes me appear patient to the rest of the world, when I want to grab the world by the scruff of the neck and shake it around to my way of thinking. Knitting makes me slow down and breathe. Knitting brings me peace.

Sewing does much the same, though not by the rhythm of the needles clicking together. Making my Nana Sadie Rose creations brings my design capabilities into play with the color and pattern of quilting fabrics. Sewing is more visual. Knitting is textural.

Years ago, studying ethics in education and business, I came upon a book that in a very simple, straightforward manner, just blew me away. Kenneth Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale co-wrote The Power of Ethical Management in which the authors created the concept of the Five P’s of Ethical Power: Pride, purpose, patience, persistence, and perspective. While I can’t draw it here, the first four on that list rotate around the last. Perspective is the hub of the wheel around which the other four turn…perspective enables you to practice the others – they all work together in our lives, as a wheel works to move an object forward.

I am constantly impressed by how often these 5 P’s crop up in my thinking since that book first dropped into my life. I was reminded of it, again, when I read Ruinwen’s two recent discussions of turning her life towards her desire to become a knitting designer. Ruinwen was talking about not having patience and not being good at knowing how to wait. She hates to wait. In one post she says: “Last week I talked about paring down my life and finding out what is real and authentic to my personal self. I’ve decided that trying to do that in a season of growth and renewal is probably not good timing.” And in the very next post she says she’s going to go with the longing in her soul to become a knitting designer. What she may not realize yet is that by focusing on her dream, the extraneous in her life will fall's a natural by-product of the process of reaching for the thing that matters most to us!

Who’s waiting? Not Ruinwen. She’s honoring the voice inside her that tells her that her authentic self must craft. She is drawn to it as nothing else. It will become her purpose, her pride, she will be persistent in her endeavors, they will help her develop patience and perspective. (And, by the way, she’s going to be a terrific designer you mark my words!)

So why do I craft? To develop perspective on an often insane world; to create something of lasting beauty and function; to watch pattern, texture, and color develop from a ball (or balls) of yarn and from pieces of fabric; and to move through the day, the week, the months with a modicum of sanity. But it’s certainly not because I’m an inherently patient person! Though I’m learning!

1 comment:

Ruinwen said...

What a great post...and not just 'cuz I'm in it :) Thanks for the kind words; they mean so much coming from you!

You always put so much into your crafting. Your bags show the love you have of creating them. I took mine to the local LYS today for my first official class on the path to becoming a designer, and it held everything...patterns and all. The detail you put into your bags makes them extra special. Just like you.

I'm glad that crafting provides an outlet for you that brings you peace and purpose. Some people never find those things though they search their entire lives. You are very blessed.