Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lace Knitting Lessons

I am an art teacher. It is my chosen profession, and my main source of income. In addition, it is deeply satisfying on a number of levels to me personally, as an artist, and a human being. I love the energy, enthusiasm and joy the children bring to my classroom, and thereby, my life. My students drive me forward, as a teacher and an artist, to explore the what-ifs, and stay hungry for new knowledge. Did I mention that it is exhausting? Or that there are those days that things don't always go as planned? The days are, without a doubt, filled to the brim with unexpected turns, and lots of great art making. I wistfully think about what my life would be like as a full time fiber artist/shepherd , happily spending my days spinning, weaving, art quilting, tending the flock, and generally producing as many artworks as my heart desires. I, instead, plan and execute what I can during my non-teaching hours, after school, and on weekends and vacation time. I awaken at 4:30 a.m., have my ritual cup of jasmine jade tea, pore over my reading materials, which consist of several knitting, spinning and weaving magazines, art quilting and historic needlework publications. My most energetic hours are these, in the wee hours of the morning. After work, I prep dinner, do a little working out, and settle in for some light knitting or spinning, generally. Weekends and vacation time are for the bigger project set-ups, re-grouping and reflective activity that keep me focused. This photo is the most recent knitting project I have undertaken. It is a lace shawl. My first. What a challenge. I have discovered much about myself in this process. I have ripped back on many occasions, made plenty of mistakes, and gotten irritated to the point of putting the shawl away for weeks at a time so that I would not have to look at it, or deal with it. I have asked myself on numerous occasions, whether I really like lace knitting or not. I have finally discovered, half way through this ambitious project, that I need to "read" my knitting. If I can do that, I will make fewer mistakes and feel more enjoyment from the process, which is the reason we do this thing called knitting anyway, right? I also know that I cannot do this kind of knitting with any distractions. I need to be able to be totally enveloped in the shawl, thinking, living, breathing the shawl. Lots of counting, checking the rows that came before to use as a point of reference for my new row accuracy. Whew! I cannot wait to be finished, sort of the way a mountain climber feels once he or she reaches the summit! Worth all that hard work. And maybe the next shawl will not be as challenging, since I will have all of this experience behind me!