Some Thoughts on Passion, Faith, and Growing up

lace knitting magic

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The other morning the Bit and I were snuggling in bed, trying to keep the day from starting, and she asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

The question kind of startled me. First, because I figured she thought I was already a grownup (she’s pretty sure that happens around age 12). Second, because I wasn’t sure how to answer. I said I want to do pretty much what I do now, knit, make things, sew.

I should have included I want to be your mom, and your daddy’s love and for all of us to be happy.

growing up
Gratuitous Bit pic.

I’m glad she doesn’t think I’m grown up, not that she really even knows what that means. Some days I certainly don’t think I’m grown up. At least not in the sense of being settled, done exploring, set down a path I expect to be on for the rest of my life.

I hope life keeps teaching me things and making me feel like I don’t know anything.

For her part, she said she wants to “knit and sew the material” when she grows up. Sounds good to me.

Finding Your Passion, Or Letting it Find You

Since Blissdom — well, really since I started writing and thinking more about creativity and motherhood on this site — I’ve been thinking a lot about passion. I feel like I’m passionate about crafts, and I’m definitely passionate about encouraging other women to make time for their creativity, but I know it can be really hard to “find your passion,” as if just thinking about it long enough will allow you to see what it is.

Some experts would have you ask yourself leading questions, like, what would you do even if you didn’t get paid for it? Or what is the thing you can’t not do?

I would ask that second question another way: what is the thing it would most hurt you not to do?

This is how I know making things really is a passion for me, because I haven’t been able to do much of it this month.

I took more than a week off knitting this month because I hurt my arm in an unrelated crafting incident. I could only knit a few stitches at a time without a lot of pain in my arm. (I stopped doing most other crafting there for a while, too, thus the lack of actual crafts over here lately.)

And I missed it.

So much.

I felt like I was missing part of myself. Like my knitting was a phantom limb I could still feel but not see.

And that’s exactly the point. I was missing part of myself.

Now I know that knitting and crafting aren’t just things I do, but part of who I am. That’s passion. If you don’t have that already, I hope you can find yours, and that it doesn’t take a crippling injury for you to find it.

An Act of Faith

lace knitting magic
See? It looks kind of awful. It’s supposed to.

Now that I’m knitting again, I cast on a lace shawl. (Nori, from the latest Knitty, if you want to know.) I wanted some kind of fancy knitting to work on at a knitting retreat I’m going to this weekend, and little shawls are good for summer (though it’s mohair, so it will be warm).

Lace knitting is the closest knitting gets to an act of faith. It’s uncomfortable for me to use that word, since I have none of the religious sort of faith, but that’s what it is.

Lace on the needles, particularly in the early stages, looks pretty forlorn, not like anything you’d want to spend your time on. It’s almost embarrassingly wrong looking. But you knit on, trusting that you’re doing it right even though it looks wrong.

You persist through the ugly bits, whispering the pattern repeat to yourself like a mantra. Binding off you say a silent prayer that it all worked out, that baptism in soapy water will transform it into the beautiful piece of knitting it is in your mind. A little stretching, a whole lot of pinning and some drying out later, and you’ll know that you were silly to worry, that the beautiful thing was there all along.

That alchemy is probably why we knit lace. There’s a mystery to it you don’t often find in knitting. Or in life, I suppose. Maybe knitting more lace will keep me from becoming a grownup.

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