I gushed enthusiastically yesterday about the Knit Sock Kit I received from Teri because she did a wonderful job with it, her craftsmanship was excellent, and she certainly deserved the accolades. A few people indicated in the comments to that post a concern that they couldn't compete with a wonderful kit like that, so I would like to address a few comments in that regard.
My instant reaction was the simplistic,"But it's not a competition." And truly, it isn't. However, it is a bit daunting to put together something for another knitter, who likely has very definite preferences and tastes, knowing that it will most likely be compared with what other people did.
I thought long and hard before I joined that swap, because that I didn't sew and my "skills" are mostly limited to knitting round and round and round. I knew that some people would put together things much more fantastic than I could even imagine, much less produce. But I joined anyway. Why?
To my mind, it's about participating . I participated because I wanted to have a more tangible connection with the inter-knit world out there. Knitting, for me anyway, is basically a solitary activity, and so is blogging, although I am lucky enough to have some wonderful commenters and I try to interact and comment back as much as I can. I think just the act of participating with others was something that I needed to do.
However, it was also about expanding. I felt the need to push myself a bit. And push I did. I had never made a bag before. A bag? Simple enough, probably, but there is a vast array of patterns and styles out there. Even considering the components of a simple bag -- handles, zippers, buttons, pockets, etc. -- pushed me a bit.
I also pushed myself technically. I started with a base pattern, but I adjusted it to what I wanted to make. I've adjusted lots of sock patterns, but bags presented a different set of considerations. I learned that just because something folds a certain way when it's one size doesn't mean that it will fold the same way when it's bigger.
I did embroidery, which is something I had never done before. I even "made up" the pattern because I wanted to individualize and personalize my bag.
I did I-cord, which I had never done before. The I-cord had loops and a tassle wrap on the end, which I had never done before. Not complicated techniques, but there were different from anything I had done previously.
I did a Russian join, which I had never done before. I didn't want to have woven ends showing on the inside of the bag, so I tried to join invisibily. I wasn't entirely happy with the way it ended up, because I still could not completely hide it, but I tried to make it the way I wanted it .
I even did crochet, which I had never done before. I looked up how to hold the hook and which way to wrap the yarn and where to stick the hook and how to pull through a loop.
Each step of the way I had to dig out a book and look up how to do it. These are simple techniques that I would not normally have had the chance to explore, and although my execution of these simple techniques could be improved, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to try them.
In the end, I know that my partner gave better than she got. I also know from reading people's reactions upon receiving their packages that not one of them has been negative. Every single participant has seemed to truly appreciate the thought and effort that went into making a kit for them. Yes, some may be "nicer" or "better" than others, but that is, in the end, irrelevant. I certainly hope my partner will be happy with what I did, because a part of the bag is the growth that I made as I put it together. And for giving me the chance to make that growth, I thank her.
I found watching the creativity that went into putting together the various kits to be inspiring. I read about and learned a lot of new techniques. I really do feel that the part of me that was worked the hardest was my imagination. I participated, and I expanded, and that to me is worth more than any of the material things associated with the swap. If you're considering not participating in a swap because you think it's a competition, please reconsider. It really is something much bigger and better than a competition; it's a chance to push your boundaries a bit and to be creative and to grow.
I didn't mean to get preachy, and if I came across that way, I apologize and you can kick my the butt next time you see me. And because I like to have something to look at besides a bunch of black letters on a white page, let me show you something I found this week:
You've probably all seen "knitting stands" like this in craft stores, etc. I found this one in my local dollar store when I was looking for squirrel eyes :-) What I particularly like about it is the size.
It's perfect for sitting on the floor beside my desk, holding my current sock-in progress.
And the price?
See? It isn't always necessary to be bigger and better. It's what you make of things that counts.