Monday, January 6, 2014

For what it's worth...

The public sees only the thrill of the accomplished trick...
no one except myself can appreciate how I have to
work at this job every single day, never letting up for a moment.

Harry Houdini


The other day I ran into a fellow knitter and we chatted about our holiday season. 
"Did you knit any of your gifts this year?" I asked.
"Oh, no," she said sadly.  "No one appreciates all that hard work."
As someone who's put in more than my 10,000 hours behind the knitting needles, I know how long projects can take.  But honestly, I've found that those who are the recipients of my endless string of projects are more than happy to open them.
Especially the kids.
Last year my little pal, Satish, and his sister, Nidhi were putting away Christmas decorations when they came to their red felt stockings.
"These are really old," Nidhi said sadly.  "Maybe we should get new ones next year."
My ears perked up and as soon as JoAnne's had quilted fabric on sale, I snapped up enough to make Satish's whole family stocking for this year's celebration. 
Over the years, I've made stockings as wedding gifts, as a surprise for a new baby.  Last year I made some for my friend, Barb....just for fun.  I've knit countless socks and handwarmers.   Hats.  Dishcloths.  Toys.  Sweaters.  Shawls.  Over twenty-five Little Lambs for Peace.  Each one took a while to make, but I couldn't really tell you how long.  I don't keep track.  For it's in the creative process that I find a project's true worth.
I'm lucky to have artists of every kind in my life:  writers and jewelry makers.  Actors and singers.  Gardeners and potters.  We often talk about how much practice, how much work goes into a final product.  Work the public never sees.  Work that others often take for granted.  People see the finished product and have no idea how much time it took to write the album.  Polish the sterling silver.  Hone the manuscript until it shines with just the right words. 
I've taught yoga and creative workshops for years and still...in the weeks before a new session, I read through my notes.  Research updated information on the Internet.  Carefully prepare the updated handouts my students will receive.  I'm happy to do all of this, as I'm always open to the evolution of learning.  
Still...it takes time.
And no one really knows how much time it takes unless they've walked in my shoes.  Or sat behind my knitting needles.
          
A few days before Christmas I was helping Satish finish a couple of knitting projects he wanted to give as Christmas gifts.  While simple, the scarf for his Papa and an eyeglasses case for Santa took more time than my pal imagined.  I was so proud to watch him weave in his last loose end and then proudly display his handiwork.
Afterwards, we were enjoying some hot cocoa and cookies.  Satish leaned over and said in a very serious voice, "Katie...I need to thank you again for my sweater."
"What sweater?" I asked.  "The one I'm making for your birthday this year?  You haven't seen it yet."
Satish shook his head.  "No...the one you made me when I was five."
I smiled.  "That was four years ago!   I'll bet it doesn't fit so well now."
            He shrugged.  "The sleeves are a little short, but I still wear it around the house when I'm cold."
"Well, I'm glad you still enjoy it."
Satish nodded solemnly.  "And I need to thank you for it again."
I winked at him, knowing that what he really meant was, "Now that I've done some of my own knitting projects, I know how much work it is."  Satish never ceases to amaze me with his loving awareness and kindness, and I can't wait to see how his Harry Potter sweater will fit in a just a few weeks.

The Midwest is enduring an arctic blast after having over a foot and half of snow fall since New Year's Day.  I've been outside shoveling away, covered from head to toe with things I've knitted over the years.  Right now, as we head into nightfall and the temperature continues to drop, I'm wearing a warm, woolly sweater, a pair of woolen socks, and some comfy handwarmers as I write this blog. But...the best thing I've made to endure this wild winter has been a pair of felted mittens.  Those lifesavers have proven to be sturdy, warm and best of all:  waterproof.  
Because of that...to me at least...they are worth their weight in gold.