Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On Having Been X-ing for a Long Time.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have been doing something for a long time? Of course, this questions presumes that perhaps there is something that you have started recently--whether it be a new hobby, a new job, a new sport, a new baby, etc. Perhaps as you read this, you can insert your own new thing in lieu of my obsession with knitting.

I read blogs or books by (in my case) knitters who have been knitting for a long time with a combined sense of wonder and desire. Perhaps the person makes reference to a book published in the '70s that now has a tattered cover, many dog-eared pages, and is full of scribbles. Or perhaps the person talks about the many many sweaters that they have made, the many techniques learned, the many pairs of socks worn through. In all these cases, I wonder, what would it feel like to have that knowledge, that memory? Then, soon afterwards, I want very much to have that knowledge, that memory--partly to understand what it would feel like, and partly because I have come to love knitting so much.

For me, this experience is radically different from, say, reading something written about swimming. Many of those posts I read with the thought, "well, yeah, I know what that is like," or "man, he had it worse than I did," or "I wonder what it was like to be that serious about your sport." Sure, even with swimming, I can think ahead of what it might be like to be a masters swimmer in her 60s, to have had that much more experience with the thing, but still: I have put in my yardage, and I know something about what swimming is.

When I read writings of long-time knitters, though, I cannot really imagine what it might feel like to be so experienced. What is it like to have designed many things (and had them come out well)? What is it like to have made sweaters back in the 1980s when we as a culture were making very poor choices about colors and fibers? What is it like to look back on a book that you have consulted so many times that it has become a part of your soul?

Perhaps it is something about these cycles of wonder and desire that lead us to try new things, to spend time with them.


Scott said...

My mother was one of those decades long knitters who eventually gave 'masters' classes at a local yarn shop. My two sisters enjoy several of her sweaters (I alas have only two) together with all the usual miscellaneous blankets, etc. While she hasn't knit very much at all for several years except to make repairs she was knitting Kaffe Fasset almost exclusively at the end, a designer whose sweaters are more works of art than articles of clothing. If you take your knitting seriously you should visit his website Kaffe Fasset Studio

Nat said...

I really want someone to answer the question "What is it like to have made sweaters back in the 1980s when we as a culture were making very poor choices about colors and fibers?"

Laughed out loud when I read that.