Last month I determined to complete several projects, mostly knitting. I knit a narrow scarf, a huge shawl, a cardigan sweater for my granddaughter, and a washcloth—that last from a horrible but gorgeous cotton linen blend. I would make another washcloth if the yarn were not so stiff and rough that it hurt my hands to knit with it.
There were small writing projects I worked on and larger ones I skirted. I have ideas for two quilts and a couple of warps. Plenty of work is waiting for me. But instead of any of these, I am planning another knitting project.
I knit a swatch and have been carrying it around for three days. Yesterday, in the coffee shop where I was meeting a friend to play Scrabble, and there was a woman knitting. I walked over and identified the yarn right down to the color: brand Malabrigo, yarn Rio, color Anniversario. Then I had to confess that no, I had not made my sweater.
That needs to change. Doesn’t it?
A PBS special about where we get our food claimed that human beings were nomadic for thousands of years until we began farming so we “didn’t have to move anymore.” The writer got that wrong. When we began farming, we could not move around anymore because we always had to be there to look after our crops. Farming did not allow us to remain in one place, it forced us to stop moving. There is evidence that this shift, rather than relieving us of a burdensome life of mobility, actually oppressed us, forcing our workdays to become longer, our labor more backbreaking. There is every possibility that this assumption that stability is preferable is mere bias. True, human beings developed architecture of stone once forced to remain in one spot, but we were already creating on a smaller scale.
Whether we traveled each day, or closed the door to a house every night, we created what scientists like to call artifacts. We call them garments, useful objects, pendants, and toys. We made art, we sang, and we told stories. These are human activities. Making stuff beautiful. This is what we do.