Yesterday several friends and I drove to Denver to attend a workshop by Barbara Sher about what to do if you’re interested in too many things. It was an enjoyable day that included lunch at a favorite restaurant (delicious, reasonable, and vegetarian-friendly), lots of people with diverse skills and interests, and copious quantities of good energy and optimism.
One of the things I have liked about Barbara Sher’s work for many years stems from her early, emphatically expressed disdain for affirmations, which she considers insulting to the brain. She’s in favor of optimism, but not of "positive thinking." Her work and Eric Maisel’s recent writing have been helpful to me in making these distinctions and in developing my ability to Not Worry Quite So Much and to Do The Things I Need To Do, No Matter How Impractical It Seems.
(Two asides: Barbara brought her new rescue Yorkie, who is recovering from previous trauma and looked like a true sweetie but did not want to be more than three feet from his new protector, and she also is involved in helping Turkish women who weave kilims sell their work through e-commerce. I’m especially fond of the kilim in the image here.)
Anyway, it was an excellent day.
At the end of it, however, I had a conversation with another participant that I found thought-provoking in a different way. This person was young and enthusiastic and more engaged with her own process than in listening.
What she’d done was develop a method that she thought was original for knitting particular types of garments. She was quite proud of herself, and justifiably so. She’d worked out these ideas on her own, with her needles and yarn and intelligence and persistence. To her, they were news and were of her own devising—as they were.
Yet I knew that the idea was well established in one of the knitting traditions with which I was familiar. I could have named it for her, told her that other knitters had been playing with this concept for generations, and given her leads to find more information on the method and its associated techniques (for which she didn’t actually know the English terminology, either–for example, "provisional cast-on").
Her approach was simpler than the traditional one. For several reasons, it might be a candidate for publication in a knitting magazine or book, if she had been interested. I did ask, "Have you ever considered submitting your designs for publication?"
She said yes, but then buzzed along on her own track about how inventive her work was and how she is beginning to market it.
And it is inventive. And her ideas are good. And she will, I hope, be able to earn income from her creativity.
I wonder how much richer her new discovery process might be if she knew more about knitting history, and could appreciate the explorations and ingenuity of those whose own experiments with their needles, yarn, intelligence, and persistence occurred in far-away places and times and preceded hers?
I think there’s joy in a good idea re-discovered. And I think there’s a lot to be gained by sharing our finds and in the connections between knitters, whether we know each other directly or not.
Which, in a way, was what the whole workshop we attended was about: dreams, visions, and the communication and support that gives them wings. What we need to do is honor our dreams and visions and be open to communication and support.
Neither of those is as easy as it sounds.
Barb Outside Boston
I guess she has never heard of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “unventions”.
HI,it’s Ruth, we met at the Harlot event (we sat together while waiting to get in). I had no idea you were famous in your own right! Guess I had the same “rediscovery” with you that that girl had with her knitting!
Okay, I responded before to Barb Outside Boston and the computer ate what I wrote. I talked, more effectively than this, about how I love EZ’s idea of “unventions.” She sure articulated one of the eternal truths of the human condition.
And Ruth, hi, am I famous? We had a fine group in that line waiting for Stephanie’s presentation.