I am constantly telling my congregations to “Think outside the box.” Yes, I know it’s now become a cliche, nevertheless, it is very true.
I am beginning to realize how much the process of crafting, whether knitting, pottery, painting, fiber arts, or whatever, is a wonderful way to school ourselves in thinking outside the box.
Whatever our medium, it provides us with a forum for experimentation with tangible things, that cannot help but spill over into the realm of thought and concept.
Last night I began a pair of socks for John. A couple of weeks ago I received an order of yarn from Knit Picks.
It’s their Essential Sock Yarn made of 75% merino and 25% nylon. These are three of their clearance colors at a really good price.
I wanted to try this yarn out because they also sell it in white yarn ready for dyeing. Of course, you have to know that once I get more proficient in dyeing fabric I HAVE to move on to fibers.
Anyway, after much indecision I settled on Ann Budd’s Undulating Rib Socks in Favorite Socks. The yarn I have looks a little like the model in the book, and I thought it would be an interesting pattern, but not too feminine for John.
After a couple of hours which included going out especially to get the needle sizes recommended, and knitting 3 different guage swatches, I ended up using smaller needles than specified, which, of course, I already had.
I quickly and neatly knitted through the top ribbing and started into the pattern. I must have spent an hour and a half messing about with it, trying to figure it out. The pattern is printed on a chart, which normally would not be a problem for me. But the first line starts out like this:
No stitch, (k1,p1,k1) all in same st, purl, no stitch, (sl 1 kwise, k2tog, psso), no stitch, purl.
Now, even with the tiny needles (no. 2) and fine fingering weight yarn, I was able to figure out how to do the increases and decreases that define the pattern. But I just could NOT figure out the “no stitch” instruction.
In frustration, I finally put it aside and picked up my Optic Waves Shawl. Nice, safe and comforting knitting by now.
But my mind would not let go of the “no stitch.” It’s just not possible. How can you not knit a stitch when the next row clearly calls for a stitch in that place? And why on earth would anyone put “no stitch” in a knitting pattern?
Duh! After a while of easy knitting and meditating on a problem that my mind could see only one way, it became clear. Those clever increases (k1,p1,k1) in the same stitch, and decreases (sl 1 kwise, k2tog, psso) accounted for the “no stitch.” I must admit I felt pretty stupid once I figured it out.
But isn’t that the way it always is when we allow ourselves to think outside the box and come up with a perfectly obvious solution we could not work out before?
That’s once of the reasons I like the classes that Susan Sorrell teaches. In each one I’ve taken, she’s stretched my mind and hands to work outside the box with simple things as diverse as doodles and shaving cream.
After spreading shaving cream in a rimmed baking sheet, I dripped on pearl white, indigo, ultramarine, and sky blue fabric paint. Then I dragged a skewer through the layers horizontally, vertically, and at angles with long squiggles.
Now I’ll wait for them to dry and then I’ll press them so the paint will set into the fabric and paper. Pretty cool.
It’s an “outside the box” way of marbling, which is normally a much more complicated process. And it’s lots of fun, too.