Who *ever* thought I’d say something like that?!
I mean, I still love knitting, don’t get me wrong. But I’m enjoying blacksmithing a lot more right now than I’m enjoying knitting.
Part of it is the excitement of learning something new. I love learning, and I learn best by doing. So being able to sign up for Open Forge, where I can come in for a few hours a week, and bang out the same thing over and over again? Learning the process? Learning to troubleshoot? Making something I’ve made before, but making it better and seeing visible progress (seriously, this latest plant hook I made is so very much better than the first one I made and that was just like two weeks ago)? That feeling of waking up in the morning understanding something I was working on the day before but unable to grok? I love that, and I haven’t had that in a long time. I think the last time I felt this *learny* was when I was learning to throw on a wheel, about three years ago. Four? I think it was three. Whatever! You get the idea!
Part of it is that knitting is very slow. Now that we don’t own a yarn store and 80% of my job no longer consists of sitting on a couch with customer and knitting for six to eight hours a day… I really only have about an hour and a half to knit in the evenings after dinner and before bed. So a pair of socks can take me a month. Or I can go to Leslie’s forge and make a wall hook unit in six hours. It’s not *instant* gratification, but it’s faster than knitting!
Part of it is also that my gauge has changed since that broken hand thing. I was already a loose knitter, now I’m a REALLY loose knitter (insert “loose women” jokes here). Because I have designed patterns in the past, and I am a yarn dyer, I feel an obligation to keep designing patterns. Especially because I also don’t like to follow patterns, and like to throw my own stuff in more of a recipe than a pattern, and then people ask me where they can get the pattern… I feel an obligation to write them down. But my gauge is different than it used to be, and what used to fit snugly at 68 stitches now fits snugly at 60. If I design something in the 68-72 stitch count (kind of average, for socks) it doesn’t fit me at all and how can I sell something to others that I know doesn’t fit me? I mean, how can I get behind a thing, and trumpet about it, when it flat out doesn’t fit me? What if it doesn’t fit them at what is also the wrong stitch count for me? What if I make it at the right stitch count for me and it doesn’t fit them? Ugh. So even though I feel this obligation to write up patterns I invent on the fly, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to put something out there that only works for one person. Which means I don’t want to show off a lot of my knitting right now. But I dye yarn, and I have to knit with it to show off the dyed yarn. So there’s that conundrum….!
Part of it is that for the first time in a long time, I have a hobby that is not my job. I can make things just for the sheer joy of being creative. I can design things in my head without worrying about making a prototype and will it sell or not and what color should I make it and how do I market this. I can then make, or not make, the things in my head. It doesn’t matter – there’s no pressure to make a thing and sell a thing so I can make another thing. Oh, sure, at some point I’ll probably make so many things that my family will be all “wall hooks for Christmas? Again?” and I’ll have to start selling things just because I’ll have such a pile-up of them. But for right now, this is mine. I don’t have to market it. I don’t have to hustle. I don’t have to sing and dance and show you shiny things in order to keep the Studio Boys in kibble. I can make things just because I want to make things, and I do love making things.
And part of it is that most of the time, my brain works like a hundred monkeys with typewriters. 99 of those monkeys type up gibberish, but that one random monkey puts out fucking Shakespeare. I answer all ideas with “yes”. Not “yes” in that this is the perfect idea and I should do it, but “yes” in the sense of “hello, idea, thank you for showing up, I will listen to you and and examine all your sides and not just immediately say ‘no’ to you”. I feel like doing that, telling all ideas (no matter how half-baked or how grandiose or how just really not feasible) they are welcome, primes the pump for more ideas. The more you open yourself to ideas, the more ideas you get. So I’m all the time coming up with ideas in the forge, and being all, “Leslie, what if…” and she’s sooooooo very patient with me! She is very kind to my hundred monkeys, heh. And by allowing my mind to free-associate with smithing, to think “well what if this” and “well what if that”, it also allows those monkeys to come up with other ideas. Craft show display ideas. Ideas for things that incorporate clay and metal. Ideas for clay things that incorporate scrolls and tapers I see in pictures of the books Leslie has on blacksmithing. Even ideas for knitting things that incorporate the scrolls and tapers! Scrolls and tapers in blacksmithing are like… the cables of the knitting world. They can be as simple or as complex as you like, and I find that really fun to play with in my head.
Anyway. This is basically a thousand word post to say that I really like where my life and creativity are at right now (abscessed tonsils aside, haha). Jenn, thank you for taking that blacksmithing class with me back in October! I thought it would be fun, but I didn’t think it would be life-changing. I feel like new doors have opened up for me, and I’m super excited to see where they lead.