I don't know about you, but I can't knit all the time. Not that the idea isn't attractive in theory, but in practice it doesn't work. Sore fingers, carpal tunnel, waking up with a merino hangover in a cold pool of your own worsted. Not pretty.
You know how farmers rotate crops to keep the soil fertile? I have to do that occasionally with my creative focus to keep my brain from turning into a dustbowl. Put down the needles, pick up the camera. Put down the camera, pick up the pencil. Put down the pencil, pick up tomatoes.*
The strangest thing is that all this stuff cross-pollinates, even when it seems impossible that it should. I was doing squats at the gym this morning and got an idea for a sweater. Had to run back to the locker room to make notes.
Lately I've been pulling out my toy cameras again. They're Holgas–cheap, all-plastic babies from China that shoot weird, dreamy pictures on medium format film. When I first bought mine, you could pick them up for ten bucks at a good camera store. Since then, they've become a vogue among prissy art students and will set you back fifty, but I still enjoy using mine.
Holgas are, to use a polite word, quirky. The limited focus mechanism has a mind of its own, and occasionally will decline to operate. The body leaks light. The back will fall off unless you tape the camera together. The film doesn't advance properly until you jam a piece of cardboard under the spool. The shutter doesn't click, it just emits a half-hearted "sproing."
Using a Holga forces you to relinquish just about all your control as photographer. You choose what to point the thing at, but that's about it. You go out, you shoot a roll, you send your film to the lab and wait to see what happened. Sometimes nothing, sometimes fun stuff.
These pictures of the BP Bridge in Millenium Park–a stainless steel Frank Gehry production with a superabundance of curves–came back from processing not long ago.
I've taken quite a few shots of the bridge with my Canon, which has multi-point focus, a pro-quality lens, automatic everything with manual overrides–and yet these are the stronger images.
I was looking at them and it occurred to me that I need to do the same thing with one of my current knitting projects. It began with great excitement, then hit a wall as I confronted a million design questions at once. Should I zig? Zag? Both? Neither? I've decided to let go, the way I do with my Holga, and this morning I've finally finished the 4" x 4" swatch.
Only took me two months.
Back to Texas
Dolores, Harry and I are heading south for World Wide Knit in Public Day. The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas has invited us to come down for the festivities, which at The Knitting Nest are always extremely festive, indeed. Last time I was there, they let me draw all over the wall!
(If you like it, it's available on shirts, bags and kiddie clothes here.)
From 11 am–2 pm I'll be teaching "Introduction to the History, Methods, and Styles of Lace Knitting" (visit the Web site for details) and for the rest of the day I'll be hanging around knitting in air-conditioned comfort. Stop by, won't you, and say hello to the visiting Yankees?
The eye-popping Summer issue of Twist Collective is up, and I'm in it. Twice, actually. There's my usual illustration for Ann's and Kay's advice column, plus this. I love the Twist folks with all my heart. They said, "Do something. Whatever you want." So I did, and when they saw it they didn't send it back with a note reading, "Too weird. Try again." And what I did is pretty weird.
*For spaghetti sauce. Why, what were you thinking?