Thursday, June 17, 2004

Why do I knit?

I've been thinking about this since my recent confession about charity knitting. Knitting is really the first hobby I've had as an adult. I don't play an instrument (though I really do want to take piano lessons). I don't sail, build models, or restore furniture. I don't consider reading to be a hobby -- it's more like eating and sleeping. I make bits and pieces of art from time to time, but it's not my hobby. Ditto for sewing. Knitting is the first thing I've invested in, in all senses of the word. I do it almost every day, I look forward to doing it, and I enjoy myself while I'm doing it.

And clearly it's not just the act of knitting that I enjoy. Knitters talk about the relaxing quality of it as an activity, but (for me, anyway), it's not the actual knitting, the physical move-this-needle-through-this-stitch -- if that were it, I'd be happy to knit cat blankets till the cows came home. It's not even the finished product. To be honest, I haven't worn any hand-knit socks for real yet. (I call this the Good China Syndrome.) For me, it's the process. It's a combination of the technical knitting, the yarn, and the pattern. It's the fun of being in the middle of a great novel, compared to the tiny let-down of finishing one.

And as I begin to pack boxes to send back to Canada, and as I make decisions about what yarn to bring and what to leave behind, I'm making a bigger decision about my hobby. I'm deciding to make it important.

I'm thrifty. I'm not very good at spending money, and as a result, I tend to buy the thing that isn't quite what I want, because it's cheaper than the thing I really want. Then I end up with a bunch of cheap things that just aren't right. And that's a waste. I'm not doing that with knitting. I'm not talking about yarn guilt, either; I don't care how much you spend on yarn or how much yarn you hoard in your house. I'm talking about making my hobby a little bit sacred. At the end of the day, when I get home and have time to knit, I want to always be knitting something I really want with yarn that feels great.

Hmm. This is all sounding rather obvious, but it's a bit of an epiphany for me. See, it's not about the knitting. It's about how I value my time. As an editor, when I'm working, it doesn't occur to me not to use the best references I can get, and I'm going to show the same respect to myself in my spare time that I do at work. It's not about yarn snobbery; it's about believing that my time is worth nice yarn. Because I don't have to knit. But I choose to spend my time doing it, and my time is precious to me.

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