Sunday, March 09, 2008

Scarves, Scarves and more Scarves

I have been heading up a charity project for our women's group at church, and we are up to 25 completed scarves. I am really very happy with the results. According to my records, I've taught 4 people how to knit, 2 or 3 how to crochet, and managed to find uses for quite a lot of my yarn. Several knitters have made up to 8 scarves. The scarves are simple garter stitch in many different textured yarns and they will go into gift bags for mastectomy patients. They are bright and beautiful for certain, even if they are not everyone's cup of knitting tea. This is where I toss any yarn snobbery that I might be guilty of out the window and go with the spirit of the project. The scarves are intended to be bright and cheerful and to give a woman who has just experienced a trauma a way to express some hope. They are not intended to show off knitting skills, be advertisements for knitting yarns or anything else. The cause of comfort and rebuilding confidence far outstrips any other consideration. So, bring on the Fun Fur, the extreme textures, the glitz! God bless these brave women who are continuing on, and here's to hoping one of our scarves might give one of them something to smile about.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Stitches, etc.

Last weekend was Stitches West. It was my eighth time teaching at stitches and I am starting to feel like I know what I'm doing. I still just LOVE interacting with the students. One of my favorite moments is when I go round and ask what students want to get out of a particular class and I know I can help them. I really enjoy the friends I've made and feel really fortunate to have met the people I've met.

The weekend began as it has for the last 2 years, with a stop at my brother's home near Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA. They live about 70 miles from Santa Clara, but a visit to family is always worth the trip. They are always good to ask about and be genuinely interested in and supportive of my career as a professional knitter. I still get the occasional odd look when I tell people what I am and what I do, but then the skepticism usually gives way to appreciation that such a knitting community exists.

Vickie Howell, of Knitty Gritty fame, was there and I heard her speak at the fashion show. She spoke of the strength of the knitting community, and I agree with her. I love that I've been able to meet people from literally every walk of life, every political and religious persuasion, and yet we are all able to find that common (yes, I'm going to say it) thread. I especially enjoy, with my students, the sense of healing, peace and comfort that so many of them find in knitting. In this wild world, I am truly grateful for something that builds community instead of breaking it down.

My classes went well, if one pays attention to evaluations, in-class comments and participation. I certainly enjoyed myself. I liked the intensity and variety of the 8 market sessions that I taught and instead of feeling burned out, I left each class looking forward to the next one and what I could do to tweak and improve and streamline for the one-hour format.

I am coming more and more to the conclusion that teaching is my art as much as knitting. I was once talking to another teacher who is really well-known, greatly admired and has a long and distinguished list of great designs. She has given up design almost entirely to focus on teaching. I am tending toward that end myself. I like designing to solve very specific problems, to illustrate a teaching point and to create something that can be used to build skills. Designing to sell patterns holds little appeal for me. It is a good thing to come to that point and to feel like I can continue to make a lasting place in the knitting world instead of only trying to make a name for myself. (There is a LOT LESS pressure this way!) Rather than being known for being good at something in the knitting world and having the sole end be attention on me, I'd rather be good for the knitting world and make it a better place. Perhaps that sounds corny, or perhaps naive, but I hope that people like me and some of my more passionate and talented teaching friends can make sure is a pathway lit for the knitters who will come after us, and not just a large ouvre of best-selling designs.