Do or do not...
As part of my holiday break, I’m visiting my sister for an overnight stay. It’s great to have time to simply talk and be together, beyond our big family gatherings around birthdays and holidays. In spending time here, I experienced two wonderful and much-needed creative prompts.
First Creative Prompt
My nephew, who works as software developer, told me that he has made a commitment to improving his visual art skills. He sketches something every day as a practice of that commitment.
The truth is, I take my artistic ability for granted, and then don’t do as much as I should/want to with it. While I do create, it’s not consistent. I am not honoring my craft or improving my skill. I use busyness and tiredness as an excuse.
Yet, I believe that living a creative life and encouraging others to do the same is my calling. Therefore I must make a commitment to myself as a creative.
Since I’ve already committed to journaling daily, I can certainly draw at least one daily doodle. I was given a new, large hardbound sketchbook for my 2018 journal and began using it this week. Without lines, I feel more empowered to draw amongst the words.
Second Creative Prompt
Last night, in the guest room, I found a throw on the bed that I had knitted over 30 years ago as a baby blanket for my niece.
Back in college I was quite the handknitter. I made a “coat of many colors” and a very intricate patterned vest out of Shetland wool. Plus numerous scarves, sweaters and even patterned leg warmers (it was the 80’s after all.)
Then, I pretty much stopped hand knitting when it was time for “adulting.” For a time, I used a lovely KnitKing knitting machine in the hopes of being “efficient” in my knitting. It was fun for a time —about 18 months — but it wasn’t the same as the rhythm of clicking wooden needles and the feel of soft wool passing through my fingers. I lugged that machine around with me through our various moves for three decades, occasionally setting it up in a half-hearted attempt to revive the production of long swaths of fabric. I considered selling it on Craigslist a number of times but couldn’t bear to part with it.
Then, in 2016, the time was right to let it go, when I met its new owner through a serendipitous conversation at an arts fair. I happily sold it to a woman who makes machine knits for a living and was in need of another machine. I was relieved to know it had found a good home.
Over the years I made some attempts to get back into handknitting with the occasional scarf, given to people who love me unconditionally. But I didn’t really become a “knitter” again. The kind of knitter who can gift or sell her creations to people who don’t necessarily love me, but love the product. This is all knotted up (pun intended) in my shaky self-image as a creative.
I’m also the kind of artist who likes to create something in a single session, from start to finish. This is why I love to sketch and make quick cartoons, and create digital art. However, this blanket, which took months to knit and piece together, reminds me that I can and should take my time in creating. Mistakes will happen, and rather than hitting the “undo” arrow in a digital sketch and quickly moving on, I may have to rip out several rows of stitches and re-knit them.
Perhaps it is time for me to take up hand knitting again in earnest, as a practice that is both centering in the moment and teaches me patience in the process.