On Process and Product

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The little afghan in the photograph I crocheted in 1972.  I was part of a group of women who were all crocheting at the time.  It is small, delicate and I love the way the colors played together.  A baby blanket for any gender.  The funny thing about this is I think it is the ONLY thing I have ever crocheted (at least to completion).  I liked making this because the motifs were easy and mindless, that’s everything I love about some crafts.  I love the feel of fiber in my hands, being drawn through my fingers.  Whenever I begin a knitting project now the one thing that makes a difference in how often I pick it up is the texture of the fiber.  A friend(?) once told me I was like Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men because I loved the feel of soft things, of fur and fiber (and I played with my hair obsessively at the time).  To this day I think about that remark and feel like I may have a better understanding of Lennie’s phyche than many people – not necessarily a good thing.

I do a lot of things with my hands.  It’s my way of thinking, relaxing, calming down when I’m stressed, working through problems.  I love making beautiful things. My projects have become much more complicated as I age.  I’m not one of those people that could knit the same sweater more than once.  The little crocheted afghan will never be replicated, I made it, it’s done, it’s over.  I’d have to say that probably 70% of the projects I finish I give away.  They are often made with someone in mind and if said project lives up to my perfectionist standards off it goes.   That crocheted blanket was made with someone in mind but the window was missed in giving it to him.  It’s amazing to me that I still had it since I’d moved so many times from 1972 on.  Different lives, different places, different people, just the flow of time.

I recently reconnected with the intended recipient of that blanket and gave it to him.  I thought that since I had been carrying it around with me so many years I would miss it when it was gone.  You know, it was a relief when it left my hands into his.  I felt a little foolish in a small way giving a 41 year old man something I’d made before he was born but it also felt like it had made its way home.

Robyn Spady in this months Handwoven magazine writes that “we make our own legacies when we pass along the items we create.”  I really think that’s true.  I have a legacy of things created by my mother, grandmother and great grandmothers.  They all mean something to me when I look closely at them and imagine their hands working the stitches.  I have their creations and know that for them it really was the process as well.  In the back of my mind I hope the recipients of my work will someday treasure them as much as I have the things left to me.  Maybe it will inspire them to create something of their own and pass it on.

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