Monday, 30 August 2010

Life and craft

It's been a basically horrible week, with lots of difficult things to process and more adjusting to do than I have easy resource for. So this weekend's been one for recuperation, recharging, and nurturing my sense of perspective, and to help I picked up 41 Beth Gutcheon's Perfect Patchwork Primer. It's apparently a classic in the world of quilting, and tells you all you need to get started (this according to dovegreyreader, who I think used to run a quilting shop, so should probably know). Of course, since it was printed in the early 70s, it's all black and white and a bit light on pictures, not like the sort of how-to manual that you find now, but absolutely compelling in making you want to try it. I have to quote from the introduction:
"People are seeking activities that offer a direct, sinple relaionship between what they put in and what they get out, and are hunting for projects with a definite beginning and a definite ending, since so much of modern life seems merely a holding action - a set of routines which never began and never will end and at bottom don't seem to matter to anybody. In a world screaming from incurable pains and insoluble problems people are seeking problems they can solve, problems which will truly challenge but not defeat them. On every hand one sees evidence of an enormous need to master something...And for any of us, when we want something pure and simple in our lives, the answer is to make things with our hands".
It seems to me that there's a parallel to be drawn between certain kinds of endeavours and certain kinds of crafts. Knitting a pair of socks, quite a lot of it is about grind and persistence, with just a bit in the middle that needs super-concentration - but it's mainly about sustained effort.

Lace knitting, ah, lace knitting, concentration, high likelihood of making mistakes, requirement for resilience and resignation to ripping back again and again because there's no point doing it unless it's perfect, and that will almost certainly mean restarting a number of times (I would love to have illustrated this with a picture of my doily only last weekend, at round 30, something went horribly awry and, not having put any lifelines in, I had to tear it down to nothing).
Perhaps patchwork/quilts are appealing to me just now because what I feel like I need to do is acknowledge that there's so much I'm trying to do, so many different endeavours and interests and types of striving, and that they somehow need to be made to fit together, because they'll be brilliant if they do. I suppose the other side of this is the "scrap" part, though - I'd probably "do better" at any of my interests if I dropped some of them, but I quite like the patchwork effect.

(And do I want to work in an environment where having outside interests is interpreted as not taking your job seriously enough? I do not.)

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