Christmas fairs are over and for me, celebrations begin tonight with the first festive feast of the season, not to mention the weekend! I’m looking forward to more relaxed get-togethers; as much as I love teaching, it will be nice to leave the house in the evening for more social reasons! Routine can make one a bit of a machine, and, with classes beginning to tail off this week, I have found a little more time to relax in between making this year’s presents and getting things ready for teaching in January onwards. It must be working, because I have had to check about three times today which day of the week it is!
The extra space and time has reminded me of a moment I had in the midst of my Croftmas preparations – specifically, whilst crocheting my sample snood for The White Room kits. I realise now that it was a fairly pivotal one. Rather than articulate it now, I was able to write down my thoughts in sequence at the time, as best I could, and this is how the stream of consciousness went:
I love making this snood.My God! No, I REALLY AM enjoying making this snood!
I’ll probably make it wider and longer in that discontinued colour Mink – I saw some at Fringe tonight or Sharp Works might have some.
I’m really looking forward to wearing this.
How many balls should I get? Three would probably do it.
I can’t believe how much I love it!
And I designed it.
Is that weird?
Does that somehow make me vain or narcissistic?
I do like it though. I think it’s lovely.
Is this wrong?
I wanted to blog about this because, so far in my nascent career as a designer, the feelings I’ve had when I’ve finished making something I’ve designed have been along the lines of “I’m SO glad that’s over/I’m so sick of this thing/But it has turned out beautifully/I’m proud of my work/Yeah, I’d be happy to wear it, it’s alright”. But that Thursday night before Croftmas was completely different – not to mention unexpected: I have an epic commute home from Fringe after teaching there on Thursday evenings and this moment occurred sometime between 11.30 and midnight, after a very late dinner. I’m resigned to the fact that it’ll take me ages to wind down and I won’t fall asleep before 1am, so I usually find something useful to do in the meantime – and that night, it was finishing off the snood.
In that efficient, gotta-make-the-deadline frame of mind the last thing I expected to feel was – and I can’t call it anything else – a rush of love and enthusiasm for something I’d designed myself. The crucial point of difference between my feelings then and a sense of pride in a job well done is that up until that point, I had only ever thought or felt like that when looking at another person’s design and imagining how I’d make it my own. Up until now, my feelings about my own creative work had been a sense of pride or achievement and happiness…but also detachment, as though my relationship with the project or design had ended: it is now free to be whatever it is going to be to whomever in the world. I’ve single-handedly brought it into the world, and my purpose as designer has been served. My work is done.
So to suddenly experience such feelings of love – for that is the word – for my little snood was a massive surprise. Also, I have never wanted to make one of my own designs twice. Once has been enough!! – until now.
I have no idea whether or not this is unusual or just plain strange. I think back to interview I’ve heard or read and can recall instances of creative folk being proud of their work, happy with the outcome and glad of the recognition – but I can’t remember anybody ever saying that they loved their work in and of itself. Manifesting any creative idea is a labour of love, enjoyed and endured in various degrees, but for me the love had stopped once the work had been completed. Well – stopped isn’t quite right; but there was a definite sense that my creative relationship with the design was over, and consequently the love associated therewith became contained and knitted into the finished article (pun intended). I have only been thinking and worrying about whether the people I’m designing for will like it and want to make it. And I do hope that people can see the love, care and thought that I have put into my work thus far.
Even now, as I write, I am still surprised at myself. My feelings made me stop and catch my breath: a pause for thought in the middle of my tunnel vision, focused clearly on the date of the Fringe Christmas fair as the last milestone or tick-box of the month. I have had very little time to digest things in the second half of the year: creatively speaking, after working on Frosted Flowers during the summer for an autumn release, I went straight onto a magazine commission to Christmas fairs and I’m now thinking about the next mini-collection for spring. I may come to realise more in time, but for now this interlude has reminded me that so much of what I do is about about love: there needs to be love and passion behind teaching and designing – otherwise your students will be uninspired and your imagination sterile and cold.
There are only a few more things to add to this personal lesson – epilogues of a kind. The first is that my current group of students at Sew Over It have been particularly interested in my knitwear: every week, they have asked me if I’ve made what I’m wearing, to the point that for the last class on Monday, I will bring in some of my pattern books for them to see – and realise for themselves – that I can make these inspiring garments, so can they. The second is that during the Fringe Christmas fair, the response that I had to the Frosted Flowers designs was brilliant, and seeing people’s enthusiasm in person for the first time was monumental. I will not forget how I felt and how they looked when I sold my patterns last Saturday. And the third and last is a picture of my snood. It became a scarf in the end; I made it slightly wider, and the 4 balls of Cocoon in Mink were JUST enough for a 160cm scarf with a reverse double crochet/crab stitch edging:
The scarf will always have a special meaning for me, because it marks the occasion on which I first fell in love with my work and began to understand something about why I do what I do. I will remember the significance every time I wear it, and that it is always worth it, both for myself and others, no matter how I’m feeling or what I’m doing, wherever, whenever, whatever.