Trying to Wing It
W. Somerset Maugham
While I can not in good conscience call myself an experienced or adept knitter, I have amassed my small measure of skill in the five odd years since Terri taught me to cast on. I've made a few projects I'm quite pleased with: a sweater from Vogue Knitting, some lace scarves, a felted bag. I'm probably the most accomplished in my small knitting circle. And yet, there's something I've never managed to do, that even the most novice knitter can probably handle. I've never knit without a pattern.
It should be so easy. You cast on a few stitches, you go around a bit, you try things on, you keep going and then you stop. I see people who've just learned to knit making hats this way all the time. But unless I have that little road map in front of me, I can't even start the journey.
I'm not like this in all of my creative endeavors. In fact, in my writing, I can't outline or plot at all. I once tried to write a book with the entire plot written out in a detailed outline, as many published authors do and recommend doing. I wrote 30,000 words and abandoned the project. I was bored. I felt like I'd already written the book and was simply typing it out. When I wrote my just-completed first novel, I had the opening scene and few details about the characters in mind when I started. From there, I just wrote, and all the incidents that came later occurred to me, somehow, just before I wrote them.
A lot of knitters I know (some personally, some online, some through their writing) speak of knitting as a creative outlet for them, an expression of individuality and aesthetic principles. For me, it's something different. I feel I'm exercisingg my judgment and creative abilities when I write. Knitting is more of a meditative, physical thing. I love watching my project grow, physically, with each row. I love touching the yarn and seeing colors and patterns form.
Maybe that's why I don't feel a need to step away from the pattern. I like having a blueprint. I like that someone else took the time to plot and plan and count and calculate. For me, it's enough just to knit.