If you have read this column with any regularity, you have surmised that I am a knitter. I have had a problem my whole life with wanting to know more and more and more—one of my professors called it "intellectual curiosity—and I am that way about knitting, too. If you have never tried knitting, you may not understand, but the craft is astoundingly multi-layered and multifaceted. It is one of the oldest crafts, in fact no one can pinpoint exactly when it was developed. There are really only two stitches to learn, a knit and a purl, and only two items needed, sticks and string. My so-called intellectual curiosity kicks in and asks "how can something so simple be so complex at the same time?
The only answer I can divine is that the human urge to create beauty and to innovate drives the complexity. I was reading a book by Barbara Walker (the stitch pattern queen of the universe, just ask any serious knitter), and the following passage hit me like a ton of bricks: "There is something in every human soul which seeks to create a thing of beauty, given any sort of opportunity and materials to do so. Throughout all the ages people have pursued their own ideas of beauty, building, shaping, weaving, painting, decorating. They have carried on that pursuit through every medium that ever came to hand."
We all understand the idea of making something more beautiful by changing the color, arranging it differently, or adding an embellishment or decoration. We all do that in our lives whether we realize it or not. But is there not beauty in enhancing the functionality of an object or a process? Back to knitting…the simplest way to make a sock is to make a tube that slips over the foot and ankle, and many socks are made that way. But we can put a little more thought into it and shape the sock to fit the contours of the foot and ankle. It will be much more functional this way and will be more comfortable. If you have ever seen or worn a hand-made sock, you will agree that this shaping elevates a mere sock to a beautiful marvel of engineering.
Beyond the enhanced functionality, why just make a plain knitted sock when the knits and purls can be manipulated in different ways to make lace or cable designs across the top of the foot and up the leg? You are still going to spend the time and materials, so why not add just a little more thought and produce something as beautiful as it is functional?
I have one book where the most humble of materials are knitted into objects of functionality and beauty. Old clothing is made into strips and then knitted into colorful rugs, nylon clothesline is knitted into a seat for a ladderback chair, old plastic grocery sacks are cut into strips and knitted into sturdy, reusable market bags.
Now I can just hear what you are saying—"Who has time for that???" The answer is YOU DO!! You do not have to knit, or sew, or whittle, but you have some time, somewhere, to create beauty. You may do it by creating order from chaos, by enhancing the functionality of something, or by adding a small decorative touch to something in your environment. Even as small a thing as spelling correctly and using good grammar in your email and text messages and Facebook postings takes away from the ugliness and chaos in the world and can add a touch of beauty.
I firmly believe we were all put here, just as we are, for a purpose. Honor that purpose by expressing yourself in some beautiful and constructive way, every day. SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com