Experiment!

A lovely friend of mine bought me this – The Opinionated Knitter is a collection of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Newsletters published post-humously by her daughter, Meg Swansen – on one of our many trips into This Is Knit.

Apart from being a lovely person anyway, part of my friends loveliness stems from her abiding patience with my love of all things knitterly.

She has not only meandered her way through many a yarn store with me while travelling through other towns, she has also pointed out said yarn stores and encouraged my perusal of them.

Which of course means losing me to the yarny goodness for unspecified periods of time.

Such non-knitting friends are truly awesome!

Part of why she forbears my continued obsession with sticks and string is that I derive such inspiration from even just looking at and enjoying the spectacle of so many skeins of potential.

She’s also a geek and appreciates that I am also a geek, albeit with a different focus.

This poem from page 126 of the above book really appealed to me.

It’s from a musical called Nymph Errant with lyrics by Cole Porter.

Experiment! Make it your motto day and night.

Experiment! And it can lead you to the light.

the apple on the top of the tree

Is never too hard to achieve,

So take an example from Eve,

Experiment!

Be curious, though interfering friends may frown,

Get furious at all attempts to hold you down.

If this advice you only employ

The future can bring to you

infinite joy

And merriment.

Experiment!

And you’ll see.

Many people don’t see the appeal of a hobby that involves such ‘low tech’ equipment as sticks (which is essentially what knitting needles are) and string (which I know is a blasphemous description of what can be scrumptious yarn fibres but bear with me). Aside from the fact that knitters can be as technologically inclined as anyone else, as pointed by  YarnHarlot

Now, I know that right now, some of you are thinking that knitting is …….. cozy and that knitters are grannies and that people who understand wool really well might not be that technologically inclined.  I don’t have time to explain it really well, but let me just tell you this. 

Knitting is binary (knit/purl.) Knitting is technology, engineering, and construction, and your knitter has a knack for it. Your knitter is a probably a geek.

My friend conducts experiments as part of her job using electronic materials, tools and measuring devices.

Her work is informed by theory and by the efforts of those who have gone before.

Geeks come in many variations. There are many individuals from all walks of existence who take up tools which may well not have changed their basic form in many decades or indeed centuries and create articles in both 2D and 3D which may be utilitarian or aesthetic in nature, or both and sometimes neither (we have all produced fuglies at some point). Some geeks take up knitting (and other forms of craft) in order to reconnect with a different pace, while some apply every type of technological do-dad to the pursuit of their yarn based hobby/passion/art because they are just built that way and can negotiate the world in no other way.

Knit geeks inspire each other. With just a pair of human hands (and some don’t have a pair) an amazing array of stitches have come to be created. Different minds and unique combinations* of hands, eyes and tools have created a body of knowledge which is often unknown to non-knitters and quite often devalued.

I value those who have gone before me. This is true in many areas of my life.

My life would be utterly different and far less content if I didn’t reside in a country with Equality Legislation and people who have gone out of their way to create safe spaces for the LGBT communities.

Equally, people like Elizabeth Zimmermann and so many others, have found novel ways to grow the art and execution of knitting.

There is a type of knitting for every type of person.

Rarely have I followed the conventional way of doing anything.

It’s comforting to know that in my knitting, as in other aspects of my life, I am not alone.

In the words of Nymph Errant I shall continue to get furious at any attempts to hold me down.

*By unique combinations of hands, eyes and tools I refer to the fact that there are vision-impaired knitters, those with arthritis and those with rudimentary tools as well as those who are perfectly sighted, in perfect physical health and using tools which are works of art in their own right.

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