Creating Space

I’ve spent most of the past two weeks creating space for myself — creating creative space, that is.  It’s been an interesting experiment with the time I have available to pursue creative activities.  I’ve thought of some parallels between this time experiment and Lent.

The idea behind Lent is that you remove something from your daily routine — it could be dietary, behavioral, or material — and allow that space to fill up with spiritual devotion.  When you take away something, another something will come to occupy that space.  The important thing, the revealing thing, is what new thing you allow to inhabit that emptiness.

Well, of course it’s not Lent, but my thoughts were drawn toward that sort of space creation due to two recent events:  My husband and younger son went on a 12-day backpacking trip, and one of my colleagues at work took over my boss’s duties from me.  The combination of those two events has provided me more time to create and to think creative thoughts.

The guys’ backpacking trip was lengthy — far more so than the usual 2-day weekender trip they enjoy.  While they were gone, I was able to have simpler dinners for myself and my older son.  I didn’t have to wait around for my husband to return from his sometimes lengthy commute before we sat down to dinner.  Without my husband, I wasn’t indulging in the usual post-dinner wine-and-whinge session either.  The college kid isn’t antisocial, but doesn’t hang out at the table much longer than it takes to eat and clear the dishes.  So, I traded in the wine for iced tea, and was done with dinner much more quickly.  Simpler evening routines meant that I had over an extra hour to knit each evening.

At work, I have been doing my boss’s job as well as my own for six months.  Having both responsibilities means that my mind is pretty much always occupied with work stresses.  Although I’ve gotten a fair amount of knitting done in the past months, it’s had to be fairly simple, because my mind has been so crowded with work thoughts that I wasn’t able to work on my own designs or do much of anything that’s required a lot of mental work.  That changed recently when another colleague of mine stepped in to take a turn at doing my boss’s work, freeing me up to attend to just my own work.

The difference in my creative life has been striking.  When I’m knitting, I’m able to think about, well, knitting. I can start working on designing my husband’s Aran sweater.  Beyond knitting, I can contemplate how to redecorate the newly freed-up college kid’s room.  Between having more time to knit as of late, plus being freed of the mental churn about work that I’ve experienced for half a year, I’ve been able to be so much more productive in my creative life, and it’s been at once calming and energizing.

I’ve finished two projects in the past two weeks.  The first is the second Encompass Cowl I’ve made:

Encompass 2 finished

I really like the berry colors of this yarn, Cascade 220 Paints.  For this cowl, I made the squares a little smaller than called for in the pattern, plus I did just three repeats instead of four, so that I could add an inch of ribbing to each long end of the cowl and still come up with something that’s about 8 inches wide.  (More details are on my Ravelry page).

This is a detail showing the stitches:

Encompass 2 detail

Of the two, the top photo shows the true colors better.

The other project is this Berruti Hat, which was featured in the 2013 Knitting Calendar:

Berruti Hat front

I had a little yarn left over from the first Encompass Cowl, so I decided to make a coordinating hat.  The geometry of this hat is such that the band is a little loose compared to the crown.  If I make this again (and I probably will, as it’s a fast way to use up a spare skein), I’ll probably add an inch to the ribbing to ensure that it comes down over the ears nicely, and do the ribbing with a smaller needle.

The back of the hat is plain knitting:

Berruti Hat back

The guys return from their backpacking trip today.  I’ll go back to our usual evening routine, which has its own rewards.  While it’s been nice to have more time to devote to knitting, I also enjoy making more elaborate meals and taking the time to appreciate them and my family’s company after a busy day.   One thing I’m glad I don’t have to give up — doing just one job at work.  I’ve created a more-or-less permanent space for myself to be creative, and I’m looking forward to enjoying that space as I start on my fall and winter knitting and sewing projects.

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