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Crochet, Penelope and the Art of Unmaking

Close your eyes and imagine the joy of seeing a new design emerge, and that buzz of excitement when it’s finally complete, and it is more beautiful than the picture you’ve held in your mind for so long.

This is what drives me to start a new project; this is my addiction. I am a #crochetaddict.

Penelope and UnmakingPenelope and Unmaking

But recently I’ve been struggling with conclusions. I’ve been working on a new crochet project, and I’m very excited about it; except I’ve been working on it since January and it’s very resistant to completion.

I must have made, and unmade, this design half a dozen times now. Each time there’s something not quite right. The flowers don’t lay as they should, the shape is all wrong, and that shape’s wrong too. It’s not big enough, it’s too big, it’s too dense, it’s too lacy……

unmaking the purple crochet flowersunmaking the yellow crochet flowers

With each design scenario I find a reason to undo it. I spend hours taking back days of work. Evenings are spent undoing and redoing; unmaking and remaking; destroying and mending; brutalising and healing.

I am Penelope, the archetypal dutiful wife who for 3 years spent her days weaving and her nights un-weaving in a cycle of procrastination. My own making and unmaking has suspended time by a thread and it is still resisting conclusion.

Penelope weaving and unweavingPenelope image credit

There is order in finished work. A completed textile is a product, an object with a role to play, a position in the order of things. It can be owned and measured, valued and devalued.

But I know that there is also meaning in the act of making. I became aware of this when I wrote about The Happy Blanket. But that was different, the process of making was linear. It did what it was told. It behaved itself, and in the end it looked lovely. (and it still makes me smile)

But what about the cycle of making and unmaking? Where is the truth and meaning in that process?

I don’t know.

Perhaps there isn’t one.

Perhaps it is just mindless making afterall.

But I do know that this period of unmaking has been about something other than the finished (text)ile. It’s not about the text, it has been about the conversation. And it was a difficult subject.

The threads of this particular conversation are long  – but soon it must reach a conclusion. I want this design to be finished in time for Yarndale.crochet design

There. I’ve said it.

So I’d better get on with it.



If you’re visiting Yarndale this year please do come and say hello, I’d love to meet you.

And if you’d like to learn to crochet – or develop your existing skills, I run classes to suit every level at Norfolk Yarn in Norwich.

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