Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Plight of the Left-Handed Knitter



Finally, after a month and a half hiatus, I am returning to my poor neglected blog. My excuses for not updating my blog for so long are numerous and I will spare you, dear reader, by not naming every one of them. However, I must mention something that happened in February that relates to my knitting output. If you've read past entries, you know that I completed course work for Level 1 of the Knitting Guild Association's Master Knitters program. They were very prompt to return my portfolio, and I was very prompt in my response to their criticismthat of shedding big crocodile tears.

Now, I was expecting, even hoping for constructive criticism. I want to improve, after all. But the basis for their criticism was that I knit left handed and that is simply not going to fly with them. They cannot, apparently, work with me reversing everything so that my hands can coordinate with my brain. "Oh, now, we wouldn't expect you to become right-handed, but you do have to knit right-handed." I mean, what is that! Yes, I can knit right-handed. I was taught continental knitting right-handed and stuck with it for a good 3 months. And let me tell you, those three months were the worst of my knitting career. I never felt like I got a flow, and I worked at it for hours upon hours. After a while, I started knitting less and less, and even got to the point where I felt like I should just stop all together. After all the joie de vie was gone. Then one day I said to myself "you silly girl, why don't you just reverse which hand you hold the yarn in." And I did, and all was well in Mayberry again.

Let me be clear about something: I did not choose to be left-handed. I was born this way. I knit left-handed because of the way my brain is hard-wired and because it is what feels natural to me. I would challenge any of the right-handed people at the knitting guild to switch gears and knit entirely left-handed for several months, and see if they ever gain the flow and speed they have when knitting the way they are accustomed to. Everyone's brains work differently, and those with ambidextrous tendencies may be able to achieve this, but I am not of this camp; I know I'm not because I gave it a good college try. Still, I am grateful to be able to go back and forth. I'll switch to right-handed knitting if I'm teaching a righty how to knit, for example. But do I totally give up the method of knitting that comes natural and enables me to reach a meditative state just because an association says so? Hhmm.

So, after receiving word from the Knitting Guild people that knitting left-handed made me a crappy knitter, I was left with a big decision. No, wait, first I was left with days of pointless depression. I didn't knit, I cried over spilled soy milk, I put Drew on the front seat of my emotional roller coaster, I let work stress get to me, and so on. And then, I got over it. At least mostly. Then I was left with the big decision: do I kowtow to the powers that be, reverse my knitting so that I give them what they want, even though I won't enjoy my art any more, or do I tell them to take a hike, branch out on my own, and consider this whole experience a kick in the butt for me to do my own thing and not let the Establishment crush my spirit. I commiserated with other leftiesmy parents, my best friend back in Wisconsin, and with sympathetic righties as well. They all said the same thing, and now I will officially say it too. Fuck you Knitting Guild Association, fuck you.

Harsh words, yes, I know. Despite my f-u statement, however, I will go back and re-read all of the criticism handed down by the folks at the Knitting Guild. The woman writing to me did try to be nice, she did give me high marks on all of the written work, and I have no doubt that some of what she said regarding my knitting is totally legitimate. I don't want to be a spoil sport who cannot take personal criticism. Honest! When my portfolio showed up in the mail and I read over everything with growing dismay and disenchantment, I had to put it aside and let it in the corner of the office for a while, so that I could regain my sense of purpose. It really was an ego blow because the criticism centered on something about myself that I can't changemy left-handedness. It's made me seriously doubt my abilities. Maybe everything I've knit really is crap. Maybe I'll never be able to design a decent pattern and have it published. Maybe they're right and I should conform or die. Well, at that point, reading again and again how horrid my portfolio was wasn't going to help matters. But the time is drawing nigh. It's reaching the point when I must face facts and see if I can take anything useful from what they've handed back to me. I'm sure I can. But I will not be resubmitting the work, and I will not be sending them any more money for future courses. What I will be doing is knitting, and lots of it. My knitting will not conform, or die.

That being said, it's the end of March and I'm back in the groove. The images above shows you two hats I worked on in the midst of the Knitting Guild debacle. I've been asked to do another art walk, this time on Bainbridge (sometime next fall?) so my goal is to keep making hats every now and then in order to build up a stock. Also, if I don't procrastinate, I'll have time to experiment with different ideas. Leading up to the last art walk, I really had to stick with what I knew would work in order to have enough merchandise. So now, I can take more chances, artistically speaking.

Also, I've already got several forthcoming blog entries in the works. My stitch n' bitch group just completed 2 blankets for our two expectant mothers, so there's that. Then there's my big exciting news. I learned to crochet last weekend, thanks to one of my heroes, Stitch n' Bitch author and Bust magazine editor Debbie Stoller. And I just finished my first project. More on that, coming soon.

3 comments:

zombie amelia said...

What asshats. Telling them to Fuck Off is the best thing that you can do. Or, require them to learn to knit left-handed. Have you considered sending a "polite" letter to them about how unreasonable it is for them to suggest to knit right-handed? I'm angry at them on your behalf. Keep knitting the way it is right for you.

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