Friday, November 5, 2010


Jill asked, "What does your husband spend his time doing while you are knitting?"

Interesting question. My first reaction when I read it was 'Who cares?'

I'm joking, of course, but don't get me started .... oops, she already did.  :)

Beginning of rant ... 

The short answer is 'Sleep, mainly.' But this question hit a nerve with me, and I hope Jill won't take it personally when I give it a much longer answer! She's not the first person to ask a question like that, and sometimes, the question is really about the values we all place on our time (and on each others', too).  

Contrary to the impression I must give, I don't actually sit around knitting all day.  :)

I do most of my knitting between 5 - 7 a.m., when Michael is still very sound asleep. (I'm an early riser and he most definitely isn't!) Then, if I have an easy project on the needles, I'll continue to knit while we honour a 33-year-old sacred tradition in our house: morning coffee together. Sometimes he watches, then, and sometimes I'll explain what I'm making, or what technique I'm using, or what I hope to achieve. He's interested -- not enough to take up knitting himself, but because Michael loves the fact that I've found my passion, he fully supports me pursuing it.

Which brings up the reason why this question triggered a whole bunch of other thoughts for me...

First of all, I've often described my hubby as one of the most low maintenance men on the planet -- he really makes no demands on my time, or has any major expectations of me, ever. He especially has no traditional ideas of what his wife 'should' be doing. Having said that, we both have responsibilities -- we manage this marina together (I do the paperwork and 'people' stuff, he does the upkeep and maintenance), and we sort of share the housework (although he maybe does a bit more of that than I do, truth be told).

Apart from that, Michael is retired -- so he spends time taking care of our grandchildren, working on our boat, 'putzing' around the marina, or working on our van. I, on the other hand, am not retired -- I work for a living as a freelance writer/editor. Not full-time, anymore, but I still do have a job ... and I'm also the cook in our household, if there is cooking to be done.

So my free time is my free time, and I choose to use it, quite often, to knit. (He spends other free time reading the newspaper and watching movies, by the way...)

I'm frequently productive when I knit -- I keep my entire family in hand knit socks, pretty much, and I've also made tea towels and dish cloths and blankets and pillow covers and hoodies, among other things.

But I don't believe that I *have* to be productive when I knit, and lots of times, I'm not. I'm playing, and I'm having fun .... trying a new stitch pattern, designing something new, enjoying the colours or the textures or the intricate laciness. Just for fun.

I also believe there is absolute value in adding beauty to the world. Sometimes, like when I create an heirloom lace shawl from two pointy sticks and some string, I'm doing just that. Here's what knitting goddess Barbara Walker has to say about that ...

"There is something in every human soul which seeks to create a thing of beauty, given any sort of opportunity and materials to do so. Throughout all the ages people have pursued their own ideas of beauty, building, shaping, weaving, painting, decorating. They have carried on that pursuit through every medium that ever came to hand: wood, stone, feathers, bone, ivory, cloth, jewels, metals, glass, clay, shell, leather, pigment ... and yarn. Knitting is very much a part of that age-old pursuit of the beautiful. Many patterns known today were first formed by hands that have become dust hundreds or even thousands of years ago; but the same patterns may still be formed by other hands. Thus knitting is a true folk art, in that it has been developed over the course of centuries by millions of ordinary people, whose delight it was to create beauty with their hands."
(Quoted w/o permission from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, by Barbara G. Walker, SchoolHouse Press, 1998)

A year or so ago, I led a 'Mindful Knitting' workshop. There were about 25 women present, and I asked, "How many of you feel guilty when you knit?" EVERY HAND IN THE ROOM WENT UP.  What's up with that??

I refuse to feel guilty about knitting ... no matter how much time I spend doing it, no matter what anyone else in my life is doing with *their* time, and no matter what anyone else thinks I *should* be doing with my time instead.

End of rant.

I'm off to my Friday afternoon Knit'n'Cafe now!


Unknown said...

Yippee! Great post!

I'm trying hard to stop worrying about what I do and worry more about what I "be."

(Sorry for the bad grammar but I've always felt that this is the way the verb "to be" should be used.)

Esther V said...

Good Grief ...who dared ask THAT question?
That question definitely unleased a sore spot in you, Marilyn!
Way to go with your answer!
I am laughing outloud thinking 'what the heck did my ex do while I knit?"...who cares!! At what time/stage are we accountable to produce a 'time sheet' to our partners? grrrrr

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting a long answer to a short question. I really enjoyed reading it.

Anonymous said...

Marilyn, would you mind letting me know where you got your clear clogs. I would like my daughter-in-law to order these for me for Christmas. I knit "Christmas" socks for all my family every year and have several pairs on needles just ready to finish. This year, I've knit several pairs for myself, and I would love to show them off is these great clogs. Thank you. India from Halifax

Grace said...

Great answer to a daring question---my dear hubby sleeps when I knit but he is up at 4:30 every M-F if there is work so what can I do, if there is no work he sleeps because he is cranky!!

"Skipper" said...

India, can you please email me at skipper at mvwindwalker dot com -- I can give you the clog info, and I have something else to tell you, too! :)