15 @ 40 // day twelve
Knitting has been a part of my creative life since I was younger than my own children are now. I have fond memories of going on holiday to our usual spot at the coast, and our first stop would always be BigW for some holiday goodies. Back then, we didn’t have a BigW in our town, and it was a Big City Experience. I loved wandering up and down the craft section trying to decide what kind of mood I was in for making this holiday. One year it was roller stamps, which I’m pretty sure my mum still has in the basket of craft goodies for the grandkids to play with. Another, it was knitting needles and yarn – I remember the lady at the checkout asking 10 year old me if I was learning to knit for the holidays. Outwardly, I just smiled and nodded. Internally, I still remember, I was mortally offended in that soul deep way only a tweenager can be. Learning to knit, pfft, OF COURSE I already know how to knit I just didn’t bring needles with me.
As my own children have come along and gotten big enough to be crafty, I’ve enjoyed continuing this tradition with them. Not completely altruistic I will confess, because mama likes a li’l holiday crafty treatie too, but it was fun to take them to Spotlight or Lincraft and let them pick a project to work on. There was often still a baby or toddler who needed a nap, and it gave the bigger kids something fun to do in those quiet times. Sometimes the grown ups just wanted some down time with a cuppa, and a new project or new crayons was enough novelty to buy us ten minutes to drink our coffee in peace. And on rainy days, these holiday hauls were an absolute lifesaver.
I still have those pink plastic needles tween me bought on holidays. Looking at them I can still picture the apartment we stayed in, still smell the salt air of the beach across the road. The yarn itself, a favourite over a couple of holidays, came full circle when my mum dug it out of her stash and knitted my daughter a dolls blanket on those self-same pink plastic needles; this is the way they came to be in my stash not hers, on that blanket when she dropped it off to me, apologetic that she’d forgotten how to cast off and would I mind finishing it off.
As I grew, knitting slowly fell by the wayside in favour of study and reading and other new hobbies, but like all the creativity written into my muscle memory by my tiny self, it has a way of coming back around. From the very earliest days of this blog, I’ve dabbled in knitting and techniques, learning cables to start with. Socks seemed terrifying, until they weren’t, and I knitted a pair in a gorgeous hand dyed yarn not all that dissimilar to my tween self’s holiday favourite. Brighter, more modern, but definitely related – a distant cousin maybe, the kind you see at weddings and funerals and say “we really need to catch up more often”.
Garments felt another jump harder again, until lockdowns and Me Made May and cabin fever convinced me it was exactly what I needed. Another skill level, and another knitting obsession, unlocked with that sweet jumper that is still in high wear rotation. Even as I type, there is a jumper on the needles, begging for completion before spring and warm weather and it is relegated to the back of the cupboard until next year.
In the in-between, if I wasn’t knitting, I was crocheting. Be it blankets or cute little amigurumi dragons or mission teddies during lockdown church, there has been a crochet project almost every year of the blog. And of course, who can forget the time Car made me want to crochet and I ended up with a dead laptop? Fourteen years on, the baby at the centre of the drama now towers over both me and Mr Barefoot, and yet I still don’t let her live it down.
It felt inevitable then, that I would include a yarn project in this series. I didn’t feel I had enough time to knit something full-sized, and originally planned maybe a blanket or scarf for Aurora, Mr9’s newest teddy. As I started working through the first tranche of projects though, I felt a shift in how I wanted to approach the series, and how to create more layered, storytelling pieces, rather than just “here is something I knit”. I’ve enjoyed the process of creating images as part of the outcome of the project, as the result, not just as a way of documenting the project in question.
“Knit//day twelve” is a bit like that. There is the piece itself – a multi-sensory 3d mixed media piece, encompassing photography, pop-out knitting, and found word poetry. Once upon a time, I used to share a lot of creative writing in this space, and while I don’t know it will make the cut as a stand-alone in the series, I wanted to include “words” in some format. The idea adding found word poetry felt like a good fit, and also feels like a good representation of where writing fits within the blog. A bit sprinkled here and there, not the main focus, but a fun side serving to the bigger things I make. Including a snippet in a project with a different focus made sense when considering the blog, and my creative practices, as a whole.
To present it, I wanted more than just “here’s the thing I made”, I wanted the photo to be part of the piece itself. If I was to show it, I thought to myself, how would I present it to hang for display? From a rough idea of the vibe I wanted, I got to work experimenting with various backgrounds, layouts and options.
The additional elements became an integral part of the piece. A torn book page, calling back to lazy Sunday afternoons with my knitting in hand and my kindle propped beside me. A small fold of fabric, echoing my eternal drive to make a matching bag for every project. In the end, they feel as integral to the project as the yarn and glue and photo.
Not quite collage, more than flat lay – assemblage maybe? Maybe I’m overthinking it (shocking new behaviour, right?) and it can just exist as it is. An homage to my knitterly self, past and present, and the knitters who came before me. A nod to the multifaceted approach I take to creating and the ways I choose to spend my downtime, multitasking in the best ways.
Today’s post is part of my “FIFTEEN AT FORTY” project, a fifteen day, fifteen project, celebration of creative exploration, to mark my fortieth year and my blog fifteenth. The journey so far has been amazing. The creation of the pieces I plan to share with you over the next fifteen days has been a revelation. I am brimming with inspiration and motivation for what is still to come.