Do you ever ask yourself why you create?
For most of us it certainly isn’t out of necessity as it was for our parents or grandparents. We can hop into a car and buy a jumper for next to nothing with relative ease – so why make one when it takes hours of precious time?
Personally, I have many reasons. I can choose the exact colour, fibre content, shape and style of whatever it is I am choosing to make – an obvious choice for self expression.
But for me it is more than obtaining a flattering fit, or finding colours that suit.
It is the act of creating; taking raw materials and making something out of nothing. It is the anticipation of what will happen to that blank piece of paper when a pencil is moved over its surface; when a pair of needles meet a ball of yarn and those first stitches are cast on.
The creative process itself holds great appeal. Taking time from a hectic life-style to sit still and be calm and quiet, listening to the soft clickety-click of the needles or the scratch of a pencil or the swish of water.
We do not need to clothe our family the way we once did without having a choice in the matter. But perhaps it is us that are missing out. Before the time when an evening was passed in front of a television or computer we would sit together and talk, often with a female in a corner knitting away, or mending a tear.
For me, knitting is a time for escape. The housework is no longer important; the stresses of the day are put in a box for the time being. It is my time. I like to spend it talking with the children, sitting in the garden, listening to music and nattering away to friends.
It is also a time to devote to a certain person. I have a friend who not long ago moved to the USA and a recent felting project was a lovely opportunity to focus my thoughts on her.
Or making a toy for my little ones. I love to watch their imaginations come to life with something Mummy has made for them.
It sometimes feels more instinctive than that. It has quite an organic feel to make something for your loved ones for example that will keep them warm in winter.
We try to grow our own as much as time will allow and that same feeling crops up then, no pun intended. To sow the seeds, nurture then harvest and finally feed your family. Is this where I need to beat my chest caveman style?
Maybe the hard work is more important than we think when we think of the value of something. It is easy to forget when we nip out to the shop for a few apples or a jumper where these readily available things actually come from.
I think that is another appeal with the creative process. I can check a ball band to find out where the yarn has been spun or the fibre sourced and (unless my children are being particularly impish) pretty much guarantee that children are not involved in the production of the finished garment.
I can decide to buy yarn which has been reared, shorn, processed and spun within the UK meaning that its global footprint is low.
Better still I can raid the other half’s wardrobe and use his fit-only-for-the-bin cast offs to create my new slippers which I will tell you about soon.
Or maybe it’s just an ego boost. I love giving to others and I get a big kick out of seeing someone wear or use something I have made for them and genuinely enjoy it.
Take the prayer shawl. You don’t have to be religious to make and give one of these. A shawl is like a big hug; it is something you can create for someone you care about when you can’t be with them. Sure, you can buy flowers or even the shawl itself, but to spend time making for that person means that you are not just giving the shawl, but also your time and thoughts that will last longer than the average fortnight of a bunch of flowers. Christening shawls and wedding shawls all have a similar sentiment often being handed down over several generations.
In an era when everything is disposable, taking time to make something that will be loved for years to come holds great appeal to me. How many of us have something our grandparents made? Maybe a colourful granny square blanket made with an explosion of colour from the leftovers of balls of yarn?
A friend at one of my knitting groups makes vast amounts for charity. When time permits I’d like to make something for her!
Why do you create? Do you make mainly for yourself or do you like to give? Where is your favourite “creating space”? I’d love to know what you think.