Monday, 24 July 2006

What the Yarn Harlot made me think about....

In keeping with the theme of the birthday post, here's what's in my head at the moment.

Growing up.

I'm not very good at it. See, when I was younger, I thought that when i grew up I'd be a writer. Not just any old writer. But a famous one. A very good one. One who was happy in her creative pursuits. I even used to look at the place on library shelves where I thought I was supposed to be. Somewhere near Helen Garner, which suited me just fine when i was at uni because she seemed like someone to aspire to be like.

Now I'm a grown up and I'm not a writer. I think I'm a bit sad about that. And reading the lastest post by the Yarn Harlot today did not help. Check it out. It's all about being a writer and how knitting is a lot more productive than writing because, well, mostly after a bit of work, you have something to show for it. I hope it's ok to quote her, because I'm going to. On knitting v writing a book she says,

"....I love that it's easy to finish. Easy enough to balance almost all of that other stuff. One row, one stitch...there's your accomplishment. It's black and white. Either you have knit or you have not, either the pattern is right or it is not...."

And that pretty sums up why I now knit and no longer write (fiction, that is). About two years ago this month I stopped writing. Struggling with attempt number four at a novel (or was it three? I can't remember. They all blur into each other from this distance) I decided insanity was a little closer than I felt comfortable with, not to mention the extreme bad moods and daily sense of failure, and so I quit.

Just. Like. That.

Within days I picked up a set of knitting needles at Lincraft, a ball of some pretty wool and got to work on remembering how to make the stitches I'd not worked in years. By the end of that evening, I wondered why I hadn't taken it up sooner. Not since childhood had I held a pair of pointy sticks in my hand. I'd crocheted. And I'd loved it. But knitting was, I'd thought, a long forgotten thing. It just seemed so natural and kinda comforting, so I kept going and I haven't stopped.

Two years later, it's pretty much all I do when I'm sitting still. I knit in the car, on the bus, watching Buffy, watching the news, when visiting friends for dinner. If I'm sitting, I'm knitting (ok, when I'm not blogging, but I've been known to knit and read other knitting blogs).

So it's been two years without writing. I haven't missed it. I've missed the sense I'd lived with for probably the last 15 or more years that writing was my calling. From the moment I stopped writing and focused on knitting (and gardening and cooking and just generally being less mad at the world), I think I just wanted to pretend I'd never had a calling, that I didn't spend a decade or more telling anyone who'd listen that writing was my great passion, my real love. I didn't even really grieve for my lost love. Was it really love? Or just an infatuation that went on way too long? I don't really know. Instead of writing, I just spent a lot of time knitting and getting to know a whole new world. Like so many of you, I've found the internet has changed knitting from a domestic habit for one into a big, colourful community with a culture all its own and I love it.

But I think I'm starting to grieve now. There are files on my computer that have stayed untouched for all that time, full of the thousands and thousands of words I wrote, happily or otherwise, in my former life. I don't dare go into those files, or open the boxes full of drafts of books or even completed books that were sent away and never published. Sometimes I run into people I haven't seen in a long time and they say, 'hey, how's the book going?' I hang my head. There is no book. I gave it up. There's a sort of awkwardness. They don't know what to say. It's not like someone died, but it feels a little bit like part of me did.

But I'm curious about what i might do if I start, just tentatively, writing again. I think I'm afraid I might not have time for other things. There are a lot of loves that take up time in my life and I happily devote myself to them. The people and things we love are hugely important and there are some I'd rather die than give up. I used to say that about writing and I gave that up, but at what cost?

And what's the price of taking it up again? Re-reading the Yarn Harlot's post on writing again, i have to say it's more than a little terrifying to think of going back into that world of words again. But hey, I'm not writing under contract like she is. I'd just be doing it because I love it - or used to - and that's not so bad. And I can stop anytime.

OK, enough of that. Here are some photos.

Remember the sock I started? Remember how proud I was? Last time I posted about socking, it looked like this

Now, two months on, it looks like this

See the difference? That's right. None. I'm posting this for Happy Spider so she can see the fruits of her efforts to teach me the Joy of Socks. It will be completed Ms Spider. It really will. Just as soon as I am brave enough to revisit it and find out where I'm up to because I sure as hell don't know, it's been that long.

And finally, here's the cute little hat I'm making for my friend who had a little girl on my birthday!

It's moss stitch (or seed stitch) and being made with the aim of getting back into the whole double pointed needle game. It's a build up to the Joy of Socks.

And here are three random thoughts to leave you with, some knitting related, some not.

1. Moussaka tastes MUCH better on the second day.
2. When blind baking pastry shells for tarts, stick some baking paper in it before you put the dried beans in. Apparently everybody knows this and now, so do I.
3. Welcome back Brenda Dayne of Cast-On! How we've missed you. The world is a nicer place with you in it.