What is the point in slow making?
Why bother knitting, sewing and crafting; investing all those hours spent sitting and thinking, making simple repetitive movements and watching the slow materialisation of something, inch by inch.
Is that repetitive act a form of meditation as your mind and body slowly relax into a natural rhythm? What happens inside the mind as it splits and multitasks? One part is counting, doing the maths, chanting an internal mantra to the beat of numeric repetition. The another part splits off and travels far away meandering around past experiences, re-running events, re-writing conversations, making plans and analysing regrets.
And what of the other part? The third party that is busy attempting to tune in to some other external medium? A radio play, a documentary or a fourth episode of Breaking Bad running at 1am with subtitles (so the children don’t hear) as binge watching TV dramas on Netflix becomes the alternative to chemicals and caffeine to keep you crocheting into the early hours.
What is this addiction that deprives me of sleep and consumes my days, and nights? What is this compulsion to make, this madness that drives me to crochet 600 almost identical squares of merino for a blanket that I really don’t need?
Why, when I am convinced that there is already enough unnecessary stuff on this planet am I compelled to contribute to it?
It is quite simply, I believe, the urge to make something beautiful, meaningful, functional and lasting.
This particular project is all about investment; but this is a personal investment and one that operates outside the mainstream economy.
The interest rate is variable. The returns are negligible and there is very little collateral risk.
My thoughts turned, on many occasions as I was crocheting, to the work of the (tragically late) American artist Mike Kelly. I have long been a fan of this Californian artist who for a brief moment in time turned his attentions to the hand-made object as he examined the uncanny significance of the home crafted afghan, the hand knitted bunny or the ubiquitous sock monkey.
Images: www.whitney.org www.theguardian.com www.artnet.com
Doesn’t every crafter who lovingly hand makes an object invest it with sentiment or project onto it a gushing appreciation by its recipient?
Kelly’s work questioned the reciprocity of such hand made gifts. ‘More Love Hours than can Ever be Repaid’ tackles the guilt attached to the receipt of such gifts. I can remember the strange confusion that accompanied the receipt of toys knitted by my own grandmother. Knowing that I had to make the right appreciative noises whilst fighting the urge to immediately put it out of view so it’s strange button eyes wouldn’t follow me around the room.
Now I am the adult that makes, and with children of my own I try very hard not to assume that their enjoyment of a hand made object is in anyway related to the pleasure I have derived from making it. So I rarely make for them. I would know instantly when their polite “thank you’s” were hiding disappointment – or horror.
I only design products that I’d genuinely like to own myself, and I adore this blanket. When I look at it I catch glimpses of brief fragments of my life over the few months I have spent working on it.
I see the trains, cars and buses that it has traveled on – and the living rooms, bedrooms, cafe’s, bars, parks and tents that it has visited.
I hear ghost stories, a Book at Bed Time, afternoon plays and Women’s Hour. I see Breaking Bad, The Killing, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Down By Law and countless other films and dramas.
I recall the conversations it has overheard; the arguments and bickering, the bad jokes, the teasing, the laughter and the attention seeking behaviour as I became a slave to my addiction. I’m reminded of Boo, Tricia, Jodie and Marina who all contributed to the project and I’m grateful for their help and company,
So perhaps the point of slow making is that it doesn’t take up your time, it gives you valuable time; time to talk, and listen and think.
This blanket took a long time but I believe it will give back far more than it’s taken – and it’s value will increase with time.
It has been made to last.
And I hope it will outlive me.
This crochet blanket now available in our online shop is available to buy as a downloadable pattern, a self contained kit or as regular ‘buy as you need’ installments.