I am not good at wrapping presents or making things. As a person who loves the process of gift giving, and who is a perfectionist, this is something that vexes me. I have loads of friends that can make a gift look absolutely beautiful with a little brown paper and string. I have a friend who owns a gift shop so she is naturally AMAZING at wrapping presents. I feel that a beautifully wrapped present adds to the whole experience of giving or receiving gifts.
Equally, while creative in writing and in my ability to chat about almost anything, and while being a pretty good baker, I’m not that good with crafts. Aside from a short-lived affair with screen printing while I was at university that didn’t end well, craft and art making is just not something I am good at. I just don’t have that visual kind of vision – this colour matches that colour, this would look good here, this and that go really well together, this item would look really good if it was sat by that item.
So what did I do? Accept defeat? Stick to what I knew? No! I took up a new ‘crafty’ hobby – knitting! Yes, knitting. But before visions of knitted coat hangers and old ladies fill your minds, knitting is ‘like totally in right now’, ok?!
I chose this particular hobby because I liked the idea of having something to wear that I made, as well as the fact that a few friends knit and started the idea of a ‘knit night’ whereby we would meet up once a week in a pub in a different part of London and share knitting tips and stories. And drink wine of course. Ok, so perhaps I was swayed by the tour of London pubs more so than the hobby itself.
‘All you need is some needles and yarn’ a fellow knitter and friend said to me. So that is how I ended up with the smallest needles and the thinnest yarn after an overwhelming visit to the MASSIVE knitting section of John Lewis. How was I meant to know the difference? I suppose it is obvious now, looking back, and it really should have made sense to me that knitting with small needles and small yarn would only leave you with small items and would probably take a long time. I just didn’t make that connection at the time. So when I turned up with said equipment and bravely declared I was making a scarf, another friend kindly said to me – ‘honey, feel free, if you feel like knitting that scarf for the rest of your life or if you’re making a scarf for a doll’. Those weren’t her exact words of course, but you get the gist.
Ever resourceful and not wanting to waste the needles, wool and money, I decided to make a headband to wear on the bike on these cold winter mornings – something to warm my ears, yet not a beanie, because they make my head too hot. I started to wonder if by the time I actually finished it would still be winter and cold enough to wear it.
Knitting requires: time, patience and a vision for the finished product. Well, I don’t have loads of spare time, and I definitely am NOT a patient person… and I’ve already mentioned my lack of vision. So it’s unbelievable really that I managed to not only learn to knit with those tiny needles, but I actually finished something. It took months – mostly because I would let it sit, abandoned for weeks at a time, maybe doing one or two rows in a quick 5 minutes between blog posts and baked goods.
But I persevered despite being bored of it half way through and despite making a few mistakes. (I refer to earlier statement about being a perfectionist – the hole from that dropped stitch somewhere in the middle reallllllly annoys me every time I look at it).
So, now I have an imperfect, yet warm head band for the bike. And I accomplished a finished knitted product. And I accepted the fact that while imperfect (breathe, breathe), it is still an achievement, it is still useful and it’s still beautiful. Well, ok maybe not beautiful. But the point is – I think I like this whole Wabi Sabi idea. (See link for explanation).
I’m not sure that knitting is for me, but I will persevere and see where the knitting road takes me – maybe next time I’ll make something a little more complicated and perhaps it will hold my attention. Or, maybe I’ll stick to writing and baking.
Thank you to rarasaur for introducing me to wabi sabi.