Saturday, May 17, 2014

Views of Others, Views of Self: 5KCBWDAY6

"Write about another knitter or crocheter that you admire."

For some reason, this topic has become very tricky for me to write about. Perhaps I'm overthinking it. I mean, there are a ton of knitters and crocheters I admire. There is my Grandma, who taught me how to crochet. Her mountain stitch afghans are the works of art that first sparked my interest in yarny creations. And what about my mother? My mom who more than just humored me when I was an enthusiastic little child learning to crochet. My mom who took me shopping for yarn, and praised me when I challenged my self with new patterns. And then there's my sister, who showed me that crochet can be intricate, as well as playful, when she took up doily making. Or what about my aunt? Her meticulous color choices and dedicated project planning abilities are constantly inspiring me to focus, and make the details count. All of their enthusiasm for the craft continuously inspiring and re-inspiring me. Challenging me. Pushing me. How on earth could I choose just one member of my fiber-loving flock of a family to admire?

And what about the crafters outside of my family? What about +Lise Engdal who taught me to knit the right way Norwegian way via webcam one weekend? What all the school friends who gave in to my begging and let me teach them to crochet? What about the bloggers and pattern writers and photographers who keep publishing such delightful material? They all certainly deserve my admiration.

I have always felt that thing that makes knitting and crocheting so wonderful is the bond it creates between so many people. I'm not just talking about weekly knitting clubs or sisters who crochet together, I'm talking about a historical bond between our modern times and a bygone era. A time when making things by hand was not a luxury, it was a daily fact of life. And though so little time was available after all the other chores of the day were done, our ancestors still found time to make little extra touches on the most humble of garments. A rose bud on a shirt cuff, the name and date on the edge of a scarf. Little flourishes that prove even though it was perhaps a chore, knitting and crocheting were still means of self-expression. A way of physically creating a representation of your care for another person.

In my experience as a crafter, there is one particular experience that really stands out in my mind as the perfect representation of how making something by hand creates a meaningful connection between the maker and the wearer. I became good friends with the teaching assistant for my Russian class in college. She was from Russia, teaching in the US as part of her language study program to get her Masters degree. When the semester was over, I wanted to send her home with something handmade. I decided on a scarf.

When I gave it to her, she was so happy. I really can't put it into words. I've given people things I'd made before, but she told me that nobody had ever made her something before. No handcrafted gift. Ever. She wrote me once she got back home, and thanked me again fro the scarf. She said it reminded her of America, and all the wonderful experiences she had here. It was a physical representation of good memories, and good people. And it was the best thank-you for anything I've ever made.

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