women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Are We Missing?

"A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching."

- Sri Swami Sivananda

I am appalled at what I am reading in the news these days. Shopping rage appears to have replaced road rage in our society as a way of letting out our frustration.

A temporary worker at WalMart was trampled to death by crazed shoppers rushing the doors. Upon being asked to leave the store, so officials could investigate the tragedy, one woman asserted she had been waiting for over five hours and refused to leave.

What is wrong with us? Have we gone nutso?

A seven year old boy held a knife to the face of a classmate, over a dollar today.

Two men shot each other to death in a Toys R Us store. Reporters calmly stated,

"Authorities are concerned about the effect this may have on children."

YA THINK?!?!?!?!?!?

  • Have we become so intent upon our own aims that we disregard the dignity, let alone the life, of others?
  • Is money really that important?
  • Are we exhibiting the classic symptoms of addiction and withdrawal?

As we head into the greatest "gimme" festival of the year, I have to ask...

What are we missing?

Over the weekend, I watched The Lord of the Rings on TNT. Now, I have seen this movie many times before, but this time I turned on the closed caption option. (I am hard of hearing and wear aids, but still struggle from time to time. Nothing man can invent truly replaces what God has made.)

It was revelatory, how much of the dialogue I had been missing. All the sotto voce comments, all the unusual names (I am now officially ready for Trivial Pursuit: the LOR geek version) all the subtle nuances, the subtext... All were revealed by that little line of script running along the bottom of the screen.

And it made me wonder...

What else had I been missing?

In my rush forward, in my inattention to detail, in my quest for progress over process, in my moving on to the next thing...

What was I missing?

You may have noticed that I rarely design with anything heavier than DK weight yarn. Occasionally, I envy the quick progress such projects deliver. but I don't enjoy knitting them.

I love the fine details of lace, like this lovely rendition of Triad from Fleegle's blog .

I love the intricate twinings of cables, like in this motif from my upcoming design: Evening Violets

I love the raised texture of twisted stitches, as in another design I am working on: Durum ( the type of wheat used in making pasta)

I love the details.

There is a certain richness, a depth of flavor, a resonance that results when you pay attention to the small things. Like the nuances of the movie script, these fine details enhance the quality of the finshed project. I love to run my fingers over the finished surface and take delight in its beauty.

I think we, as a nation, are being offered a chance to slow down, back off, regroup, rethink, and focus on the fine details of what makes life worthwhile. As our economy slows and our debt piles up, many of us are taking stock of where we are and pondering where we want to wind up.

I value knitting above all as an opportunity to slow down and drop out of our hurried world. Long before our pocketbooks demanded it, I withdrew from the mall, dropped out of the rat race, and sought a more grounded life. (Now, if I could just resist internet shopping...)

Don't get me wrong. I believe in providing a product that meets a need, whether that need is for food or beauty. I know that I would not be in business were it not for the avid desire of knitters for the patterns I produce.

But I think the difference lies in the process. We knit not just to make things. We knit to experience things. We knit for the feeling of the yarn flowing through our fingers, for the joy of the pattern forming beneath our hands, for the love of our fellow man.

When I design, it is not just for "what sells." I imagine all of you out there in the blogosphere, I close my eyes, and ask,

"What do they want? What do they need? What will bring them happy knitting?"

This last summer, it was light and airy lace. We could all walk in the garden together. A year ago, it was wandering in the spice markets of Morocco. This fall, it was easier, less expensive, smaller projects that would meet our needs for holiday knitting - Aperitifs.

I push myself to release, not for my gain, but for yours. I think, "Someone out there is waiting for this pattern. She will enjoy knitting it and whoever receives it will enjoy wearing it."

That is what makes this whole business so gratifying for me. It's not about me; it's about YOU!

It's about the joy in another's face when we express our love, the relief in tired eyes as we shoulder another's burden, the peace that results when we stop saying, "Me first" and begin saying, 'After you."

And that is what we are all too often missing...


fleegle said...

Dear Susan--

Both your writing and designs bring me to the brink of tears. That lavender thing--well--it's exquisite.

We dropped out of the rat-race ten years ago...and shudder when the holiday catalogs start stuffing our mailbox full of things we can't use and don't want.

Yes, we knit to experience the joy of creating, touching, and perhaps even wearing something unique.

Please keep designing--and writing!

And, um, when is the lavender thingie up for grabs (speaking of greed :) )

knitterbeader said...

Susan...you "hit the nail on the head". It seems the world is full of greedy people - greedy for power, money, things, etc. My husband and I have, out of necessity in this economy, pulled our spending way back, slowed down and smelled the roses, enjoy more time with the grandkids. All of a sudden, things seem more peaceful around us, and we just shake our head at the horrible news on TV about the shopper rage, etc. My knitting is my "me" time, and my husband's "me" time is out on the golf course. I follow your blog religously and admire your writings and patterns.

Danielle said...

You couldn't have said it better! :)

Rebecca said...

Very wise observations! Lots to think about.

teabird said...

Wonderful, Susan. Knitting - beautiful lace knitting, sock knitting, dishcloth knitting - brings beauty and harmony into being in so many ways.

I blogged about the Wal-Mart incident, and haven't really stopped ranting about it. I'm truly puzzled by the idea of being part of a murderous situation and giving the Stuff you bought there as a gift. A gift?

This is the year to make something special, or give to others who are in need. We all have enough stuff, I think.

dragon knitter said...

i'd heard about the walmart incident (although not about the shopper, sheesh!), and the toys r us incident as well. small wonder i don't go out in the world any more than i have to this time of year.

i understand about the CC option when watching tv. you often catch things you wouldn't notice otherwise (my parents are deaf, lol).

as for the knitting with DK weight or lighter? while i enjoy those, and the fine details you can get with them (the small details of life that sometimes pass you by), i also relish worsted weight, and bulky. These things live larger than life (a lace shawl done in worsted becomes a nice lightweight blanket) and can accentuate our lives as well. i think it's a matter of moderation, which none of these people seemed to have in their lives.

Jazz said...

I haven't commented here before, but I've been reading you for a while, and I have to agree with this post whole-heartedly. We dropped out of the rat race 13 years ago when we decided that we would live on one income instead of two so that I could stay home with our kids. We may not drive new cars or have a lot of Stuff, but I think we are truly richer than most in the ways that count.

And your designs are gorgeous! I'm a fairly new convert to knitting and am looking forward to soon having the confidence in my skills to order one of your lovely patterns!