Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finding Meaning in Pieces We Make

“That’s a great scarf!” shouted the tall man who walked by me as I hurried home from class.

“Thanks!” I yelled back, gleefully. “I made it myself!”

As I continued to walk, I was tempted to turn back and tell him that the scarf was the first knitted project I had ever completed, and to share details about the number of times I had to practice casting on. I wanted to talk about how my first attempt had failed, and how after many more trials, I finally had this soft, beautiful collection of knots to wear. Lastly, I wanted to say “Yes, I know this is a cool scarf, I made it so!”...

Of course, by the time I had walked through all of those thoughts, he was gone.

The important point is that this experience allowed me to realize how attached to my scarf I had become.

At one point in time, the scarf I was wearing had been a mere mess of yarn (see previous blog posts), knitted and tinked to yield a seemingly useless square of berry-colored material.  


After many weeks of attending knitting workshops and talking with experienced fiber artists, I got the hang of the knits and purls, and began to see the patterns emerging in my knitting. This first project, a scarf made of all knits (garter stitch) was simple enough for me to work through, but still allowed plenty of room for error. I lost count of my stitches several times, and at one point, forgot what the finished product was supposed to look like. Eventually, it was brought to my attention that the completed piece could look however I wanted it to look - after all, I was the maker.


I am proud of the fact that I can now make wearable pieces. Further, it is clear that I have attached meaning to this item I made; there seems to be something particularly special about wearing a piece that I made by myself for myself. I would predict that many other makers can relate to the notion of creating meaning through making.

There is something profoundly meaningful in acknowledging the freedom to design and create a wearable textile. Over time (and stitches) I have come to develop a sense of empowerment in completing knitted projects. The anecdote at the beginning of this post communicates the willingness I had to share my process of making with a stranger.

The completion of a project teaches the novice knitter that it can often take a much greater amount of time to knit through a pattern than initially anticipated. There are new stitches to learn, errors to fix, and sometimes (painfully) entire rows to rip out. By the time the knitter reaches the end of a pattern, much has been gained: The individual has a new piece to wear, fine motor skills have been strengthened, and often, new techniques have been acquired.

I have observed a trend in behavior across makers to willingly talk about the process of making. It seems that the creative process involved in making seems to bolster, and sometimes even outweigh, the value of a finished product.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Leo -- Thanks! It would be great to know if you have had similar experiences with making.