Friday, May 14, 2010

Craft Properly Practiced

Revisiting a book I was reading five years ago and included in a 2005 newsletter...

Knitting Without Tears

“Most people have an obsession; mine is knitting,” writes Elizabeth Zimmerman in her 1970's book Knitting Without Tears. “Your hobby may be pie-baking, playing the piano, or potbelly-stove collecting, and you can sympathize with my enthusiasm, having an obsession of your own. Will you forgive my single-mindedness, and my tendency to see knitting in everything?”

My mom gave me the book as a present a few years back when I decided to learn how to knit. Although I am not yet a knitter and maybe never will be, I like Elizabeth’s attitude:

“[I often hear] the infuriating remark, ‘I’ve always wanted to knit, but I just can’t.’ Pish, my good woman, you can plan meals, can’t you? You can put your hair up? You can type, write fairly legibly, shuffle cards? All of these are more difficult than knitting. You just don’t want to knit, so why pretend that you do? It’s not compulsory; take up something else.’

“If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don’t; follow your secret heart and take up something else. But if you start out knitting with enjoyment, you will probably continue in this pleasant path.”

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either ... When I say properly practiced, I mean executed in a relaxed manner, without anxiety, strain, or tension, but with confidence, inventiveness, pleasure, and ultimately, pride.”

Ask yourself: Do you have a craft? Are you "following your secret heart"? Have you found a way to leave anxiety, strain, and tension behind, making room for confidence, pleasure, and pride?


Marti said...

Other tenets of Elizabeth's philosophy - beyond the distinctly knitting-related ones like the comforting observation that the human body is designed so that it can be easily clothed in a series of tubes, and the practical note that children's gloves should be designed to fit either hand and given in sets of three - includes this handy piece of advice:

If people tell you there's only one right way to do things, smile and file away their advice for further use, or not. Everyone approaches things a bit differently, and that doesn't make you wrong. Find what works for you. Yes, you will have to make samples and measure your gauge, but it's fine that it isn't like someone else's.

Megan Noel said...

hm. are you going to try it, is what i want to know?

Marti said...

I haven't yet. At any moment, though, I might break out and do it!

Kay Day said...

I tried it. I liked it for a few months and I'm done with it.
but I love the definition of "properly practiced." Writing should be done like that, too. I'll have to learn how to do that.