Sunday, September 30, 2007

Next Year

Next year I don't want to knit for anyone else. This year, I've knit for Earle, for five homeless hatless people, for five babies, for a wedding. Next year I want to knit for me, to be selfish - and I don't mean just garments for me, either.

Next year I don't want to be seduced by every lovely pattern that comes out, I want to push the limits of my own creativity.

Last night I was dutifully (and that's the correct term) knitting away on my Minimalist Cardigan. I had cast on for the Big Bad Baby Blanket, and I spun up an ounce or so of the merino/silk I've been slowly working on all summer. And I was restless, bored, cranky, unfulfilled. I didn't want to knit or spin any more.

Which is kind of worrisome, given my enormous stash. Of course, fifteen years ago or so, I stopped being interested in quiltmaking (well, really I didn't have enough time to devote to it any more, once I got divorced) and I shoved the enormous fabric stash under the bed and went on to knitting. That's not quite accurate, but close enough.

So that might happen now with knitting, unless I deal with the real issue, which is that I want my knitting to be more creative. Yes, sometimes all I want is to mindlessly knit, knit away, but I get to do a lot of that now. I don't get to flail at my creative boundaries, and I want to.

So next year will be different. Till then, I have to finish off the Minimalist Cardigan, the baby blanket for Jen, the afghan for my parents for Christmas, and the scarf from the yarn I dyed at WEBS, but after that - I play.

I play, but with a little structure, I think, because that's me. I'm thinking I should set myself a series of exercises to undertake, exercises like those that art students get assigned. I took a wonderful class in two-dimensional design once upon a time at what is now the Maine College of Art and I loved it. I'll show you the little exercises I made sometime (when I can find where I put them), along with other things I've made over the years, but for now, I just want to get down on paper (in digits?) some of what I'm thinking of trying.

Techniques: I want to spin more, and to use my spindles. I want to weave, to lockerhook, to dye, to quilt, to take classes and workshops. I want to learn the basics of these fiber crafts, if I don't already know them.

Developing an Idea: Make a series of small quick objects (hats? afghan squares?), maybe ten or so, that start simply and get more complicated. Play with stripes, with blurring the lines between colors or shapes, with cables evolving into other textures or cables. Make several of these series (swatches), exploring different ideas.

Note my usual boundaries and go beyond: For example, I usually make symmetrical objects - therefore, make something assymetrical. I usually don't work with yellows - make something with lots of yellow.

Express Something: Translate the ideas of autumn, evolution, sultriness, connection, etc., into fiber.

Go Wild: Make something that's not practical. Not-Hat, Not-Sock, Not-Sweater. Something that just is. Sculpture, I suppose, or art, in its pure state.

Go Big: Make a major project (a sweater, say) from scratch - something fairly complicated.

If anybody (Bonnie?) knows of resources that set these sorts of exercises (they don't have to be knitting), I'd love to hear about them. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for more of these sorts of rambling posts; I've been through these sorts of restless stages before in my life, and the results are often pretty interesting.


Elizabeth said...

A book I highly recommend (though not for exercises as you're describing) is Color and Fiber which really helps to understand those two things and how they work together.

A fun exercise is to pick a random assortment of yarns of similar weight but different colors and force them to live together in a fair isle project. Or could be intarsia or stripes. Fun hats in worsted weight yarn go fast and are great little projects for going wild with color. Try to clash on purpose, just to see what happens.

Bonnie said...

I can't think of a resource that outlines ways to jump-start creativity. All your ideas sound good, especially "Express Something" and "Go Wild."

For me, as an artist, one thing leads to another. Many times ideas evolve while iI'm n the process of painting, knitting, drawing, etc. So to try to envision in advance exactly what I'm going to do and how it will work out is useless. I have to figure it out as I go. And failures and dead-ends are good--they almost always lead to unexpected places.

One thing that always makes me want to go home and get to work in my studio is going to museums and galleries. Books and magazines are nice, but there's no substitute for seeing things in the flesh.

For example, although I didn't like--or felt ho-hum about--a lot of the work in the Radical Lace show in NYC last winter/spring, seeing the show helped me to define what it is I want to do.

Anyway, you have lots of good ideas, so the main thing is to just do them!

DeltaDawn said...

Go! Go! Go!

(fight cheer? cry of solidarity?)

Just the idea of having a year like that is sooooooo exciting and I absolutely support your not knitting for anyone else for that period.