Story last updated at 5/20/2009 - 11:06 am
When I first began to crochet, my self-taught creations often emerged as strange alien-like tubeworms, as opposed to socks, or old man winter's stocking cap when the attempt was for a hip headband. But then I discovered the absolute thrill that entered me when I began to rip out the stitches of half-crocheted wonkiness. Gleefully I would tear through row after row of semi-neat little yarn soldiers, felling them one by one. It gave me a sense of peace, while onlookers (like my family) watched in horror at the destruction. I was in a state of Zen.
Every form of craft has that same process of creation, destruction and re-creation. We learn from our mistakes (hopefully) and use this knowledge to do better. In knitting, as in crochet, the way to undo mistakes is a backwards process showing you those particular moments where you erred along the way. This process is known as unknitting, ripping, frogging (as in rip-it, sounds like ribbit) or tink[ing] (knit = tink backwards).
The particular Zen-like state I reach when ripping out crochet (I suppose you could call it tehcorc but it doesn't have quite the same ring as tink, does it?) is not reached when I tink stitch by stitch. Knitting builds on the needle, as opposed to on itself, so when a stitch is wrong you must carefully locate the problem and eradicate it. The feeling of Zen for me with knitting is in the re-creation and satisfying completion of a project or gift.
Often beginning knitters (including myself once upon a time) skip cheerfully past mistakes to run towards completion. There are a couple of ways I've found to "transcend" this stage. One is a clever little book called Knit Fix by Lisa Kartus, available at our local library (that is, when I'm done with it!). Lisa clearly describes common mistakes and calmly guides you through the fix, because even though it may sound strange, knitting can induce panic. Another way to relieve the stress of failure is to commiserate with others by visiting http://craftfail.com. This site is a hilarious collection of failures from all walks of life. Definitely a place to refresh your crafting spirit.
The process of redo in crafting is not limited to knitting and crochet. Sewing has seam ripping, in jewelry making you can re-string, and painting can be washed over with a layer of white. Each process has a way to unravel the steps and begin again. This process of raveling, of both untangling at the same time as creating new tangles, is the journey of a crafter and it is where the Zen of the craft is found.
Tanna Peters is a crafter and designer from wonderful, rainy Southeast Alaska. View her latest creations at suiteliving.blogspot.com and her shared crafting sitecraftaddicts.blogspot.com. Send local craft inquiries and info to firstname.lastname@example.org.