Faces of "Art"

"Not everything you do is going to be a
masterpiece, but you get art there and you try,
and sometimes it really happens. The other times
you're just stretching your soul."
by Maya Angelou

I love the wisdom of Maya Angelou.

This is a picture of a sock that I just started knitting one day with Cadenza from Estelle Designs. It's a wool and silk blend and I wanted to play with the colour spiral going opposite to the eyelets. My fingers just kinda took over and I really enjoyed the freedom of the whole experience. This was a sock design to play with, to see what would happen if...

Then about 3/4 of the way through the sock my disciplined self took over and I realized that in order to make this a practical exercise - timewise - that I should write out the pattern down and offer it on our free pattern website some month. So I finished the sock and loved it. Took pictures of it and began the 2nd one, dilligently writing out directions as I went along. I really didn't have any trouble until it came time to describe what to do at the gusset to incorporate the eyelet pattern, and then I was stumped.

I know that these are absolutely not difficult socks and writing the pattern really isn't rocket science, and I've certainly written more complicated patterns than this for myself, but I just simply ran out of time, energy, motivation, whatever else you want to add to this list to keep perfecting and reviewing the pattern so that I wouldn't be leading my lovely customers into a quagmire of knitting confusion.

This experience had me thinking about all the different levels of at which we can create and appreciate "art", and that each level has its value and each has its lessons to teach us. Writing a perfect pattern that is clear and rich in how it conveys the designer's intention is a work of art in itself, and one which I've always admired and I strive to work towards it. Needless to say, the spiral eyelet sock pattern was not one of my successes in this journey.

It is however in this way that I came to truly recognize the genius of Debbie New, one of the most truly awe inspiring knitting designers working today. Check out this website if you don't know her work: http://www.philosopherswool.com/Pages/DebbieNewCards.htm

Some of you may recognize her Madonna and Child, as we have a copy of the picture at the store. An amazing aspect of this piece is that it is life size, with Mary being about 5 feet tall. And from a knitter's perspective, an even more amazing thing is that the artist has woven in all of those ends (how many hundreds do you think that there are?) on the good side of the work, to amazing effect.
Very sensibly, I don't believe that Debbie ever published a "pattern" for this piece, but if you check out this site, you will see her award winning socks that defy the imagination of most knitters. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0964639157/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

Obviously, the challenges in creating these socks were many. Not only did she need to conceive and complete the design, which most of us can admit comes from another knitting galaxy, but by virtue of the fact that they would be published in a book the pattern needed to accompany the project. Debbie had to invent an entirely new system of knitting notation to explain how to "recreate" them for the bravehearts who would take on such a challenge.

Debbie is my hero, (along with Elizabeth Zimmerman, of course) for her commitment to her art, to the earth, to peace and to beauty - whether her work is comfortable for us to observe and reflect upon or not. (Please take a moment to look at her piece called "Dancing in Chains" from the 3rd set of cards on the Philosopher's Wool Site, linked above.)