Sunday, January 14, 2007

Absence and Creation

I have been, during the holidays, occupying myself with the most peculiar projects. Partially this is to distract me from my own mind. I find my own mind can be a very uncomfortable place to be sometimes and it is far better to get away from it then to stay in it. Aside from that the fact that currently my favorite voices have been silent and taunting me with it. So in a very pointed fuck you to my own brain I've been reviving long lost hobbies as a way of amusing myself and distracting myself.

One of the favorites among these is a hook and some string which I can use to get myself all tied up. And for those of you who are not aware being all tied up is really where the fun is at, if you haven't lately I highly recommend getting all tied up or tying up someone else if you'd prefer. As it is I have gotten myself all tied up in black yarn with a soft bizarre sort of sparkly hair that the pretty young Korean girl who was plying her wares convinced me to buy. The yarn was quite thin and meant to be used doubled over so that I had to concentrate while performing my art to keep two things going at once, difficult but not impossible.

My distraction at the moment has been crocheting. This is not the same as knitting and for those not in the know it requires only one implement to construct a piece with crochet, rather then the two needles you will need to use if you are someone who knits. Also with crochet you are working to make something with a hook by essentially wrapping up some very well done knots until you have what you wanted. I enjoy crochet for any number of reasons. The first is that while doing it I can completely blank out my conscious mind so that my only thoughts are hook and thread streaming through my hand, the line before me, and the count that I need to accomplish. Everything else is gone, a silent yawning numbness that I cannot achieve through any other medium. I enjoy the silence, crave it, and so crochet has been very handy for that particular in the last few days.

The second motivation for my plucky habit is that you can create an object via crochet much more quickly than by knitting. I simply don't have the patience for knitting. I like speed; I like the fast pulsing fury of doing something and getting it done. Like painting or playing piano I want dull numbing rhythms. I want to find a pace and work it till I'm satisfied at least momentarily by my efforts and then, after a break, I want to do it again. Crocheting satisfies that need I have to create at a rapid pace, to bring something to life with only my hands and to take pleasure in what I have wrought.

With the thin black yarn I picked up with it's almost fur like sparkly tendrils I have made myself a scarf. I lost my last homemade scarf which was stitched by machine from velvet and silk (my tastes for luxurious fabrics have not yet been quenched) and I was distraught about the loss which drove me to want to create again. The need, as I've already stated, to get out of my own head made me decided on crocheting. While sewing in general will also put me in a black numb place where only I and my creation exist it does not last nearly as long as the welling yawning black hole that is crochet.

I discovered this wonderful displacement when I started to crochet in high school. Being a rabid reader and being at that time employed by my sadistic mater familias to manage the fabric store that she had acquired and quickly wished leave of; I found myself a reader surrounded by an endless wealth of things that could be turned into other things if I were to apply but a little time, patience, and attention to direction. This lead to all sorts of creations when I wiled away the hours from arrival home, to starting my other job as hamburger wench, making anything that might come into my pretty little head. Among other things that I learned to do or create were fantastic jewelry, sewing clothing and odds and ends, quilting, homemade sex toys, painting, and accounts payable and receivable. All of these crafty little talents have come in handy at one point in my life or another and crocheting when I discovered it went to the top of the list just under sewing and just above homemade sex toys as my favorite thing to do when I was alone in the store.

Crocheting, however, is not an easy thing to learn to do from reading alone and at some point the mater torment noticed that I had taken up the habit. She decided from this that she would be ever so gracious and enlist one of her friends who knew how to crochet to help teach me the art. Now this might have been considered a kindness, and perhaps you, dear reader, might think that I paint my accursed progenitor in a bad light, but I assure you this was not a kindness. My tutor in the skill had three different failings which almost made me throw down my hook and yarn for good. Among these she was the fanatical sort of Christian that believes everyone should be converted, a mortician, and left handed.

I admit that I overlooked the first two as forgivable but the fact that she was left handed when I was not did certainly make me think unkind thoughts about the person who asked for these lessons. I was getting on just fine with my books and diagrams and instructions and figured that this, like making friendship bracelets, was something I was far more likely to learn to do if I just kept practicing and reading and would not be aided by someone trying to show me how to do it. And in this, as in so many things, I was mostly right. Watching her do it without trying to instruct me allowed me to see the form more clearly than the pictures in the books I was reading, but when she actually tried to teach me I would get so frustrated that I'd stomp my foot and march away to go play with a sewing project, or painting project, or homemade sex toy as a way of calming myself and my now bruised ego. I hate not being able to do something and it drives me to madness to only half know how to do something and do it badly so failure at this hobby was making me angry.

Fortunately my tantrums were eventually too much for the poor mortician and she ended up abandoning me to my own devices and from this I found yet another book and applied what I had watched to what I had already figured out on my own and before I could make another handcrafted earring or dildo I was crocheting. And then, the darkness; the wonderful silence of my mind which blocked out everything, everything, no sound, no thought, no remembrance, no motion, no movement, just the ebbed nothingness of my fingers working in thread and a count in my head as I worked along.

This was such freedom for me, to be able to escape my own head so thoroughly. It was so much a novelty that I would take crocheting everywhere. I would bring skeins and skeins of yarn with me to school. I'd crochet on the bus, crochet in algebra, and biology, and English, and advanced writing. The only classes I never crocheted through were band and keyboard as I found the music filled the silence just as well as the hook and thread. I've crocheted any manner of things since I learned how to do it. I've made gigantic blankets, handbags for myself and friends, caps, hats, scarves, dildo cozies, gloves, hand warmers, and once even a jock strap. I've made all sorts of fun things and have truly enjoyed the blissful peace that comes with the making. I like finishing things but this always comes with a sadness because once I've done I must again return to the idle chatter that is my constantly working mind. As it was, I crocheted through months and months, and even years of what might otherwise have been distracting chatter created in my head to drive me to madness when no one else was there to do it for me.

So it is that I find myself contemplating the mystery that is being currently left without my favorite torments that I have taken up the hook and thread once again to escape into a creation that is just a real as music, art or writing but far more emptying then any of these. The scarf is lovely and I take pleasure in draping it over myself as I prepare to leave for class in the morning. And now that it is finished I do find myself a bit concerned with the voices that have either returned or failed to do so. Some of them are there and they comfort and soothe me while others remain as silent as the grave and work me to worrying. More distraction is what I need; more entertainment to get me out of my own head and I've come to the solution at last. I'm going to make a sweater.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your description of the mind numbing art of crochet is so accurate. I think it should be classified as a psychiatric therapy or something...
I also agree with your point on knitiing. And I envy you for the way you express yourself in English, a way that I can never reach.
The scarf looks so cozy and I really like the yarn you used.