This is the Wall Street Bull. The underlying statue is itself a work of guerrilla street art as artist, Arturo Di Modica placed him in the centre of New York's financial district without permission in 1987. Zoom ahead 23 years and you have New York yarn artist, Olek, doing her bit to add some colour to the financial district on a cold December night. Isn't he beautiful? I remember when I first saw this picture I was awestruck at the perfection of the fit, especially around all those fine curves of the feet and the horns. How could anyone possibly accomplish such precision...in secret, no less?
Then I watched the video of the assembly which took place this past Christmas Eve in the middle of the night in 20 F weather. (One must suffer for one's art). What struck me was that although art may look perfect at the end, it's creation involves a series of adaptations, decisions, reworkings, evaluations to achieve that illusion.
Here are some of the things that I love about her process - in relation to the work of those who have learned to improve their knitting skills with me:
-The artist was obviously well prepared in that she had all the pieces that she knew that she would need to cover every square inch of the bull, but from the way she has to tug and pull to make it fit, she proves that she is able to work with what she has, even if it isn't perfect to begin with.
-She isn't shy about sharing her work and her adaptations with the passers-by, even if it means that they see it as a work-in-progress .
-She takes huge delight in her work, especially when it's completed. We should all feel like doing a little "Rocky" victory dance at the end of a big job, knitting or any other task.
I have some issues with perfectionism myself. I think that I just don't have the make up to even pretend that anything that I do can possibly be perfect so I'm absolved of even trying.
Last week I was listening to the radio while working on my latest rug hooking project and heard Dr Brene Brown speaking about her book: "The Gifts of Imperfection" and felt so relieved that I no longer needed to feel guilty because I wasn't prepared to tear out an entire flower because one section wasn't exactly as I planned it, or rip back the entire sleeve of a sweater because I saw a mistaken in the crossed cable near a cuff.
That being said, like Olek, I have learned that in order to maintain the quality of my work, I better develop the skills that I need to deal with the errors and issues that might arise that keep the work from being the best it can be. So over the years I have learned how to use sewing thread to camouflage small inconsistencies in tension; I have added bands of knitting on both sides of a sweater under the arms to give it a bit more room if it's too small; I have removed ribbed bands and worked down to lengthen a garment; I've knit the back a smaller size than the front of a sweater in order to give more ease for those of us who might need it in the front and have "fudged" or eased the armholes to make them work together. And most importantly, I have learned, as Olek knows, that a good tug, especially when doing the final blocking of a piece can make a world of difference.
All of these tricks and the confidence to use them have come to me over 40 years of knitting and being too lazy or practical to start over. When a class member comes upon a major stumbling block in her project, I will offer possibilities...some based on the "do it over" model, others based on my more random attitude towards fixing the problem. I totally respect that some people would abhor the concept of a mistwisted cable in their garment but I also appreciate when product and process find a good happy medium and can coexist without making the knitter a slave to either one.