knitting

The will and skill to create

The will and skill to create

October 24, 2020
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The bottom line:
How will and skill combine to emergent creation, and how my awareness of this makes me embody the experience.

”Because the tools of production have entirely democratized, the population of producers is expanding exponentially, and now there’s little stopping those with the will and skill to create from doing just that.”

This is a quote from The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, and as I was writing the accompanying book reflection, I started to dive into the concept of the will and skill to create, as I find it an interesting concept.

Perhaps because this year has been such an opportunity for me to dive deep into the concept of creation, first as a participant in the premiere cohort of the AKIMBO-workshop The Creative’s Workshop, and second because I and many from that cohort have continued to create, and relate, staying in touch both in the forum available for all participants of AKIMBO-workshops, and in a separate forum created as a spin-off from TCW, but also subscribing to each other’s blogs and newsletters, setting up regular or one-off Zoom-calls, and many other ways.

The will and skill to create.
I have it. Have had it for many years.
Most prominently with my writings, I’d say, but there are so many other things I create as well, precisely because I possess the combination of will and skill. Last night I finished an intervention on a knitted sweater I bought in a flee-market years ago, a garment I like, but only wore a few times as the arms are simply off. Way too long, making it all-but-impossible to actually wear. I unraveled the sleeves, picked up the stitches where it was suitably long, and knitted a new cuff. Rinse and repeat, I now have a garment that’s useable again. Will. Skill. Creation. Given the long time it’s been tucked in the projects-basket, will have been a long time coming, even though I’ve been inhabiting the skill to be able to do this, for decades. But all of a sudden, will stepped in, and shit gets done.

That process, where shit actually gets done, is an interesting one. For me.
So when D started to talk about embodiment, something clicked. So I told him, about this intervention of sleeves and he nodded, acknowledging me in my understanding of this as an embodied process or practice.

Being a w a r e of what I was doing, a witness to the process, to the sudden consummation of the possible marriage between will and skill, resulting in creativity. Embodying it all, the will, the skill, the awareness. All levels of human beingness playing, together.

The very physical aspect of it, fingers dexterous enough to unravel the machine-knitted sleeves, picking up stitches onto the knitting needle. Binding off and sewing the cuff on the inside, doubling it, to mimic the look of the other cuffs.

The mental and logical aspect of it, my brain working out, as I went along, where to put scissors to sleeve, how to get the arm just right lengthwise, what to knit to bring the girth of the sleeve in by half or so, to ensure the new cuff would actually work as a cuff.

The visual aspect to it, my eyes carefully examining the other edges of the garment, wanting to make it look similar, because I didn’t want the new cuff to stick out, but rather blend in.

The emotional aspect of it, the pleased sensations coursing through me, not just at the finish line when I was done, but throughout the journey. The trepidation at actually cutting into the first sleeve (Will I totally destroy it? Will I succeed in making the necessary changes to it, or will it be ruined forever?), the happiness at being able to catch all the stitches without too much trouble, the sense of exploration and curiosity as I pulled it on now and again, to make sure that I didn’t unravel the sleeve too far, that the newly made cuff was not too long nor too short, but just right.

The meta-aspect of it all, me observing me, putting hand to scissor, scissor to sleeve, knitting needles to yarn, present to my mental calculations and gambles that paid off as I now have a garment that I can use. Want to use.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Poncho and wrist warmers, a GoT knitting project

October 7, 2020
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in Tip
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As I started to watch (binge. Yeah. That’s a better term for it.) Game of Thrones my fingers ached to knit. I had just finished a shawl (hush! It’s gonna be a gift, so cannot disclose any details. Yet.) that had taken me… let’s just say, too long, and wanted something easy, that didn’t require a lot of my attention (lace-knitting. Requires attention. And for some reason, I seem to fall for lace-patterns… like said shawl.), so I went foraging in my yarn-stash. Found the two skeins of pretty (oh so pretty!) Meadow, rustic luxury, Red clover, a ”textured blend of baby llama, silk, linen and merino wool” from The Fibre Co. And yes, it’s every bit as lovely as that description purports. 200 grams of laceweight, about 1000 meters in total, now what could I make with it?

I am a sucker for shawls (basically the only thing I’ve knitted for the past five years has been shawls. And a few wrist-warmers.) but wanted something different, so I googled a bit, and decided on making a poncho, of my own design, so I could keep it GoT-bingeable. Experimented a bit with the number of stitches in the cast on, finally ending up with more or less half the number of stitches that I started off with. Good thing you can always unravel…

I binged. And knitted. Knitted and binged.
When I was done with the first skein, I decided to make a pair of wrist-warmers, also on the fly, picking upon the yarn-over-pattern from the poncho. Having completed those, I put them on while again turning my attention to the poncho.

I binged. And knitted. Knitted and binged.
And by the final episode of the final season, I still had approximately a quarter skein left. So I turned to The Handmaid’s Tale to keep up my binge/knit-bonanza, and then, finally.
Poncho. Done.
Sewn together, blocked, dried.
And. I. Love. It.

Sure, perhaps I was a bit too focussed on using more or less all of the yarn I had, which means it’s not even, in the sense that the width of the poncho is two-thirds of the length of the sewn together-edge, but hey. Asymmetrical is my thing these days, ever since reading Antifragile, so… I’ll not let anyone in on the fact that this was not a conscious design decision… (If you want it symmetrical, play around more diligently with the number of stitches and your desired length of the poncho.)

Here’s the rough outline for this garter-stitches only, back and forth poncho:
110 stitches (german stretchy cast on) on 4,5 mm needles (7 UK/US)

Lift the first stitch on every row, as if to knit purlwise

Knit 4 rows of garter stitches

A (2 rows): knit until 10 stitches remain, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit 4 stitches, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit 2 stitches

B: knit two rows of garter stitches

Repeat A and B until you have a long enough rectangle
Knit A, knit 3 rows of garter stitches and then cast off loosely enough to match the cast on

Fold in two, making sure to match the yarn over-holes together, and sew the top edges together, until the opening is just right for your head
Block the poncho and once it’s dry, have fun using it!

The wrist warmers:
40 stitches, using double yarn (german stretchy cast on) on 4,5 mm needles (7 UK/US)
Lift the first stitch on every row, as if to knit purlwise

Knit garter stitches back and forth (to match the poncho)

A: Knit 2 rows of garter stitches.

B: Knit 3 stitches, yarn over, knit two together, *knit 4 stitches, yarn over, knit two together* (repeat ** five times, giving you 6 yarn-over’s for every row), knit 5 stitches

Repeat A and B until the length of the square is sufficient to wrap around your wrist (for me 13 rows of yarn-overs), cast off. Sew together along the cast on/off-edges, making sure the yarn-overs align properly.
Block the wrist warmers.

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Queen of Bingeing

September 30, 2020
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The bottom line:
Now and again letting myself fall head over heels in love with a great story, going with the flow of it, while simultaneously observing myself –picking up on what it is I like/dislike, what rubs me the right/wrong way, what I resist or want more of– is a gift. To me.

My two Buddhas have been encouraging me (that’s a very kind way of describing their insistence!) longest of time, to watch Game of Thrones. I’ve resisted. Oh, how I’ve resisted. Not having access to HBO for one. Too busy, for another. Currently involved in something else, not wanting to take the time, oh but I’ve heard it’s so filled with violence in many forms…

Excuses, excuses.

So on the 3rd I signed up for a two-week-trial period, and got down to it. Watched the first episode of the first season… and then I just kept going. On the 28th I watched the sixth and final episode of the eighth and final season.

For 26 days GoT has kept me company, and perhaps there’s been one or two days of no GoT (except in my dreams… bingeing is an interesting way of populating dreams, with whatever I am bingeing on. Before giving up Pokémon Go, I’ve been PoGoing plenty in my dreams, just to give one example.), but more or less, this has been a daily companion for me for the past just-short-of-a-month.

A daily companion giving me the opportunity to make huge progress on my knitting; my GoT-knitting project which is what it turned into unwittingly. A poncho, accompanied by wrist-warmers. All of my own design, and an easy one at that, to ensure I could knit and watch at the same time. Had two lovely skeins of the most beautiful ruby-red lace woolen yarn, to turn into something. Knitted the first skein, all on the poncho, and then did two wrist-warmers before starting in on the poncho with the rest of the second skein. Have a third (or less?) of that last skein left, before the poncho is finished.Keeping my Buddhas up-to-date on my progress, I’ve gotten a few priceless responses. One of my favorites is If there would be any money in bingeing, you’d be a millionaire. And this one, as I started on season five: That’s 40 hours of series in what? 3 weeks? And they say us millenials are bingers only to have the other Buddha respond with Noobs. And no. I got to season five in 16 days. Just saying. Bingeing GoT even had my kids realize that this is a serious skill of mine, and one they’ve likely inherited (genetic or environmental? Forever the Question, is it not?) too.

(My noobs-commenting-Buddha clocked 1+ season a day in his GoT-haydays, a point he’s keen to get across, making my 26 days seem like an eternity… Hence ’noobs’.)

I’ve truly enjoyed the process, letting myself get lost in a story, which is one reason why I love reading fiction (which is all I read up until I turned… 35 perhaps? Somewhere around there. Before that, the thicker the book, or the more books in a series I could find, the happier I was. Historical, or science fantasy, well-written, and I was hooked.). I’ve never gotten through George R. R. Martin’s series though. I know I’ve started it. Once? Twice? Not thrice. Didn’t take to it. Now – now I think I would definitely like to read it. I probably will.

Violent?
Heck yeah.
Lots of sex in the most weird and (supposedly) shamed ways?
Hell yeah.
That too.

And I truly like it. Love it even. All of it!
Well-developed characters.
Absolutely stunningly shot – the way they are working with visuals is simply amazing.
Not to mention the actors. Wow! Just witnessing the children of the Stark family growing up through the years of shooting the series is something special.

I truly appreciate the norm-breaking aspects to GoT. There’s not a season that goes by without some serious tankespjärn being provided, served upon the finest silver platter, there for the taking. Having a dwarf play one of the main characters for instance. Being extremely human in the sense that he’s a dwarf a n d a sexually practicing one at that. As human as anyone else. I love that! It also saddens me, because it makes it very apparent how seldom people who deviate from the norm (that friggin’ norm, narrower and narrower by every year.) are visible in every-day-culture as humans, expressed in all their glorious messy humanness.

Another piece of tankespjärn for me is the roundedness of ”the evil characters”. Caricatured, sure, and yet, believable. Complex human beings, not one-dimensional. Picking up on this tells me it is not often so. That it’s more common that characters are black-or-white, good or evil, seldom both-and. But we are. Both-and. There’s good and evil in all of us. In the sense that sometimes, what I do or say, or don’t do nor say, is of service. To me. To others. Sometimes definitely not of service, neither to me nor others. Stumbling along, in all our glorious messy humanness, the full spectrum is there. Emotions, sensations, experiences. We get to live it all. If we let ourselves. And a lot of the expressions within our popular cultural register lack this. One- or perhaps two-dimensionality is rife, and the multi-dimensional (not for a moment would I denigrate humanness to being no-more-than three-dimensional) lived reality of humanity more rare for sure.

As I watched the last episode of the last season, followed by the documentary made during the last season, a void opened up. What to do, when not watching a gazillion GoT-episodes every day?
Start to binge something else?
Write more?
Get to bed earlier?

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Sources of joy

May 16, 2018
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Sources of joyThe GIFTED book club.
Choir practice.
An evening of playing cards with my eldest.
Deeply immersed in a book that is riveting in one way or another.
Knitting!
Recording my upcoming podcast.
Receiving feedback from a participant in the pre-school-staff programme me and Pernilla have been running for a year, bringing tears to my eyes as I read about life-changing experiences.
Laughing with a friend.
Feeling the strength of my body as it takes me back and forth across town on my bike.
Slowly tilting my face up towards the sun, feeling the warmth of it, after months of cold weather.
The butterfly flitting around in my flowering garden.

You know what?
I could write and write and write here, boring you all to bits, because there’s so much joy to be found. Everywhere! I mean – truly!

God.
I’ve gone all Pollyanna here, haven’t I?

I mean… who would have thought I’d ever be able to state, emphatically, that I find sources of joy in things such as folding dry laundry, boiling some water and pouring it in a cup with a few leaves from the garden (walnut, back currant, raspberry and a moroccan mint-leaf), pouring a large glass of green smoothie and plonking myself down with it on the stairs to the garden to drink it while reading the morning paper, receiving a surprise postcard from a friend and colleague from a spur-of-the-moment visit to New York and any number of small and seemingly insignificant events, activities and interactions.

Well. This is the way it is. Most of the time. Not always, of course not always, but surprisingly often, I don’t see ”drab everyday life”. I see sparkles and magic, experience gratefulness and joy; so if you want to, feel free to call me Pollyanna.

Do you have any sources of joy that are a surprise to you, as you start to reflect upon the concept?

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Being gentle to me – Reflection February ’17

February 27, 2017
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It’s been an odd month. A lot of hopelessness and despair, frustration and fear, surrounding me. So what have I been doing to be gentle to me, under these conditions? Well… I’ve let myself off the hook, in many ways. I’ve let up on some of the requirements I normally meet, have let my confused and muddled mind be. A lot of knitting, which for me is a very relaxing activity, where my brain can simply let go. A lot of The Good Wife on Netflix, which works perfectly together with the knitting. I’ve not had the wherewithal to read, so no books. I’ve not been able to make myself focus on some aspects of work, so less of that as well. I’ve done the top priority activities, but cut back on the rest.

Wellbeing picking up againAnd now?
Well. The wellbeing is picking up, on all fronts, mine as well as for those in my surroundings. And it makes it easier to start to focus again, to get into the aspects of work that I’ve not been able to make myself sit down with in the past month. The items that require a bit more from me, a coherent thought, an arc of intention, that demands my full attention. And today, for the first time in a few weeks, I finally truly felt that again. So I enjoyed it, getting into the flow of things, of digging around in a system, searching for the common thread, pondering the best way to recreate it, into a new system, utilizing the best from the old, and trying to let go of the less good bits.

And throughout it all – this underlying knowing that it’s not forever. It will not last, the sense of hopelessness, the lack of energy due to despair. It cannot. Nothing ever does. The flux of life will pick up it’s frequency again, starting to swing back and forth, back and forth, providing me with high’s and low’s. Coupled with the knowledge that whatever it is I am not doing, is noting that won’t keep, the worst case scenarios of me not giving it my all – for a month – simply aren’t that bad, even if I use all of my imagination.

So. Being gentle to me this past month has been about cutting myself some slack, allowing me to recharge my batteries and giving me space to simply Be.

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Reverting to maker-mode

February 20, 2017
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It’s chaotic inside of me, as someone close is suffering. It affects me, as a lot of thoughts pop into my mind, about the fate and future of this one soul; what I can do, or not do; thought on a society that has let the rights of a few be more important than the needs of the many.

This makes me weary. Lacking in energy. It’s as if I’ve grown lackluster, myself. I am ever grateful that I’ve learned to be gentle towards myself, and to let myself be, in a situation as this, rather than push hard and beat myself up for not living up to the highest possible standards (mine, that is). Because I have a hard time to focus, truth me told.

click clackSo I retreat, after doing what I am capable of doing workwise, and then… I knit. With an unfinished sock in my hands, the gentle click clack of the knitting needles, and the tendency to get sore fingers from the slightly coarse organic wool/nettle-yarn, that I so love, my mind is free to simply be. No demands. No expectations. To be let off the hook of accomplishments and deadlines, I revert to maker-mode and rejuvenate. If it was warmer outside, I might be putting my hands into soil, cultivating my garden, but given a few degrees plus, rain and fog-filled grey days with gusts of wind that cut to the bone, I stay inside, my fingers find a similar sense of satisfaction in turning the yarn into a thing, a creation, something that can be used, providing warmth and beauty both.

I know. It will not last forever. Something will give, the situation will resolve itself, somehow – and I pray for it to turn out as best it can – and I will revert to my normal level of energy and accomplishment. In the meantime, I settle into the couch, throw a woolen blanket over my legs, and pick up the knitting needles, click clacking myself into peace of mind.

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Not much good for anything

November 22, 2016
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My mind was wandering. Constantly checking social media, email, SMS. Desperate for a hit of connection. So I said to myself: Stop. No more. Take a break and do something else. You’re not much good for anything right now. 

So I took out the yarn and needles and pattern for a wool sweater that I bought in Visby this summer. I’ve just cast a quick glance or two on the pattern before, realizing I would need to sit down for quite some time, in order to get started. Having procrastinated on getting started for four months, now was the time. Turned on the Good Life Project Ambassador VIMEO that I missed out on Thursday last week, and plonked down in the sofa.

Listening, and knitting. Knitting, and listening.

Once Jonathan was done, I was in full swing and wanted to carry on knitting. Remembered my friend Michael Sillion having suggested a youtube-clip with Seth Godin to me, so Seth became my second companion for the afternoon. Now I feel much calmer, centered, and both inspired and proud of myself. Jonathan and Seth gave me both intellectual and spiritual challenges to contemplate, and I got started on the sweater.knitting

As I didn’t have any pressing items on my To Do-list this afternoon, I let myself be. I let the jittery non-focussed me have an opportunity to slow down and refocus. That was a deliberate choice I made. Turned out the not-much-good-for-anything-state of mind that I was in earlier, actually turned out to be a much-good-for-knitting-and-taking-in-some-challenging-input-state of mind. Who would have known?

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