flavors of guilt

It has occured to me that there are many ways to feel guilty in knitting. And, as a Jew, I’m always interested in the intricacies of guilt. It might be insane, but I think I might be onto something.

Do you ever feel guilty for switching from one project to another? For switching crafts, even? Isn’t it funny, the connection we feel to our work? I know I feel really guilty if I’m working on more than 4 knitting projects at one time, and even more guilty if I spin or weave whilst having that many projects on the needles. At this point in time, it’s embarassing to admit how many projects I have on the needles.

Some, I’d even forgotten about; like my mum’s cardigan from the Knitting Olympics, a shrug, a scarf. While digging through my stash (something I don’t recommend to anyone) I found all these. Along with tons of yarn that I’d bought with a project in mind. I felt guilty for my compulsive urge to buy more yarn. Here was perfectly serviceable (beautiful, exquisite!) yarn with a plan in mind, and I ignored it! Or worse, forgot about it. My yarn deserved better from me.

Then, of course, there’s the guilt of working from a pattern. Am I the only one who ever feels this? I’m a creative person. I was raised by an artist. I have been taking art and design classes since kindergarten. It seems like such a betrayal of all these efforts at sprouting creativeness to follow a pattern. Unimaginative. Mundane. Conventional. These are the words that pass through my mind every time I pick up a pattern. I think, “I could make my own pattern. The product will be unique. Original. Mine. Why am I using this?”

Is this crazy? I often wonder about it.

And finally, there’s the guilt of not writing patterns. Right now I have so many commissions to write that it’s overwhelming enough for me to want to pretend that I have no idea what so-and-so is talking about when they broach it. “What? That thing? You wanted that pattern?” (okay, I should feel guilty about this – but I hate all the math involved and the typing. and the editing. eugh)

Where does this come from? I think, and please prove me wrong, that we feel so attached to the craft itself because of the emotions it evokes that we start to anthopomorphize the craft instinctively. Our projects develop character. Yarn has tendencies. Needles have personality. We can’t help it. And, because we’ve developed this attachment (for better or for worse) the relationship can be mutable. When we work on a sweater diligently, we feel good. If the sweater goes ignored, you feel the same as when your Mum asks why you never call her anymore.

Maybe I’m oversimplifying this, but, hell, this is a strange topic. I’d hate to think what Freud or Jung would make of it.

I have to admit that this subject has been my bane for a while. I sometimes wonder if I’m too well-educated. Women in medieval Europe wouldn’t have felt bad for having a house full of yarn. Likely, they would have felt quite the opposite. Why can’t I feel this same way? Why can’t I be pleased with the fact that I have a stash of gorgeous yarn, fiber, and tools? Is it because of the cost of attaining such a stash? Is it the space? Is it the fact that I cannot devote myself to one craft, much less one project, at a time?

It puzzles me exceedingly.

This all resurfaced (trust me, it’s always around) tonight. I was so pleased with myself for finishing weaving this:


My rya sampler – to be sewn into a pillow. Or, I was pleased with it until I realised that I had to sew it into a pillow. And then it hit me – I love to sew, why was I annoyed that I had to sew a total of, like, 4 seams? Because sewing would detract from my knitting. And from my spinning. It had been hard enough to finish the weaving (don’t even get me started on that guilt), but now I had to find time to sew as well. For a single moment, I almost hated the cloth. But, upon petting the pile, I decided that – worst come to worst – I could always pull a Harlot and shove it into my closet. In the end, I would always have the achievement of learning a new weaving technique and the satisfaction of making beautiful cloth.

It’s always good to know what to be grateful for, right?

At least I have options. And a lot of materials to work with.

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