Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Knitting - the abcedaria of a writer

Knitting! Who are you kidding! She's going to talk about knitting and make it have something to do with writing?
What about your attitude?
Get your bums in seats
and listen with compassion
while I discipline
you on the elegance
of knitting, my friends,
and how a generous
spirit will see, heck
yes, that with a little imagination
and putting all jealousy
aside - you can compare writing to knitting.

Whew! I'll never be able to do that again, so I hope you noticed!

I've been knitting for much less time than I've been writing. I've been writing since I was a young sprout and while I learned to knit in Girl Scouts, from my mother, it didn't take until about six years ago. Now, I'm not a brilliant knitter - mostly hats and scarves - but occasionally I'll break out and try something different. While I was on my writing retreat, a few weeks ago, I took along a lace scarf I was attempting. Most of my knitting I can do while I watch television but not this thing. No, this was like writing a sonnet! You had to count and pay attention for every stitch.  I finished it a couple of days ago and it is a thing of beauty. No one will ever know how beautiful it is to me, except another knitter AND that is one way writing is like knitting.

1. Writing appears easy to those who don't write - so does knitting.

You work your head off on those projects that are most complicated - things that are tied to a certain time period, or with complicated plots, or with a certain style that requires each word to be very carefully considered.  Or, you're learning to write, and you really have to pay attention and it makes your head hurt and you want to go back to something easier - say your job as an air traffic control person. Like I'd like to go back to knitting easy hats that allow me to still watch television while the needles fly. Only, I don't. I want another HARDER lace project, or I want to learn how to knit socks (hard for me).  And even though I've now written three books start to finish - I have plans for a much more complicated one - one that is even harder to write than those last ones. Because I like the challenge, I like the feeling of having my writing muscles get stronger.

2. Getting better at writing means you can do more complicated pieces just like knitting.

When knitting a big piece, like a sweater, it is sometimes hard to realize that it'll ever come together and be a useful garment. But it will. I've knit a few sweaters and while they weren't complicated designs they took a long time and it would freak me out that I was spending lots of time doing something that might not work. Then suddenly I got to this place where I saw it was going to work - some magic point where I got that I was actually going to knit something that I could wear with pride. Writing a novel is similar. Big and scary and out of control and the only way to learn to do it is to do it.

3. Big writing projects, like a novel or a play, seem unwieldy and terrifying until you get a certain amount done - then you realize you can do this thing; just like knitting a sweater!

I could go on but I'm not going to. Why? Because I'm starting another big scary knitting project. I'm addicted to big projects that seem beyond my grasp. I'm a knitting writing warrior queen!

How about you?


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent Read.


Siv Maria said...

Now that was impressive, I did notice. I should start up knitting again.

sue said...

Well done! I just knitted my first ever pair so socks - in the round! I'm unbelievably proud, and me feet are so warm :) Lots of counting though, no TV but so intriguing when you do the heels. Sue@JumpingAground (Alliteration & drabbles)
Sue@traverselife(Workplace bullying)

Ellie said...

Loved this analogy. I'm a hopeless knitter because a) I can't get the tension right and b) I get bored and move onto something new. The one thing blogging has taught me is discipline and writing every day. I guess we all need to practice and finish the things we start!

Ellie Garratt

Tabitha Bird said...

Exactly. I want to learn to knit. It looks so easy... :)) (joking about it being easy. I would love to learn to knit)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Wish I could knit! What a wonderful analogy. :)

Faith Pray said...

Plus, you've a picture of a Knitted Kitten. That should count for two "K"s in the abecedaria. Isn't there also something subliminal in your writing that goes on, the wheels and cogs , the WIP slowly clicking into place, as the mind is occupied with other things?

kathy stemke said...

Love the photo!

Janet said...

Love how you've knitted together both crafts ;-)
Fun read! Speaking of knitting and GS, check out my post for today--should bring back memories for you!

Julie said...

I love this post. I've always wanted to learn to knit, this inspired me. Great analogy!

Rosalind Adam said...

I love your analogy and I identify with the issue. My knitting projects always seem to grind to a halt just before I start knitting that final sleeve (I hate sleeves because of the way the number of stitches grow and grow)and it's the same with writing. I have some bigger writing projects that have halted right near the end. I really must get back to them.

Where's a photo of the lovely lace scarf?

Ann said...

I am a knitter, so I know exactly what you are saying here. Patience, perseverance and a little bit of daring.

Great Hat!

fredamans said...

I haven't knit in years but do love it!

Clarissa Draper said...

You're the second knitting I've read today but the first on how knitting is related to writing. Awesome.

LTM said...

well. That's a fine analogy, and a great hat! I got my girls some of those knit cat-eared hats, and I love them.

Thanks, Jan! :o) <3

Martha (MM) said...

Impressive! It's the same way with my photography. I cringe when I hear people say anyone can take photos.I'm no professional but it takes a lot more than picking up a camera and clicking to turn out nice photos.

Cozy in Texas said...

Good analogy. You have to keep trying new things with both writing and knitting.

Carla said...

Wow...that was awesome! I loved it! Both the analogy and the poem at the beginning. I've tried knitting and found it very frustrating. I do really enjoy crocheting, though. ;)


Heather Henry said...

I like how you knit those two together...hehe! Really though, great analogy.
I can relate to it via knitting, painting and any other project that is lying in a corner, waiting for me to come back to it. Sometimes it's overwhelming, but when you just go for it, finish it, you can look back at the huge amount that you accomplished and learn from the experience of it.
Great posts! :)