Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
– The Tempest (I, ii)
Lately I’ve been finding a part of myself protesting this project. Some little part of my id panics and starts to shout “I never wanted to be a knitter! No one ever asked me about this! I don’t want to change!” It’s completely irrational and actually kind of funny. As if changing into a knitter were something dramatic, worthy of protest or fear. I doubt it’s the “knitting” part of this equation that gives me the queasiness. But change… now that’s something humans tend to fear on such a base level. Impermanence.
10,000 Hours is an unusual project this way. The change is at the core of it… the knitting is just the vehicle I’ve chosen to hitch a ride in. Constant transformation is the goal. When I find myself wanting to settle into a technique that’s become familiar and that I’m comfortable with, it’s time to push myself even harder and try something new or difficult for me. The whiny little toddler id doesn’t like it. Tough. This is what I’ve signed on for… for another 9,500 hours. Lucky for me my curiosity and sense of commitment outrank this little whimper of laziness and I forge ahead. But change is happening.
I’ve started a discussion group on Ravelry (an online knit & crochet forum). I’m so excited about the conversations taking place there! People sharing their own stories of practice and learning, ideas about what expertise and mastery really involve, and a great sense of community. One person asked, “How do you choose?” No one had asked me that yet. I think to some degree people have just assumed that I’d always wanted to be a knitter. I haven’t. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a knitter… I just had no knowledge of and consequently no real desire to learn knitting. What I knew I wanted was to take a 10,000 hour long journey. What I needed for that was: 1) Something I could do often and virtually anywhere I went, otherwise 10,000 hours would take 10,000 years. 2) Something that would give me visual evidence of my progress since this is, ultimately, an art project. 3) Something I could easily seek instruction for.
Knitting fit the bill. I also loved the idea that knitting is a measurement of time in its own right; and time is such a big part of this project. So this is how I chose knitting. I was a hitchhiker on the highway of expertise and knitting stopped to give me a ride.
This project is a transformation in many ways. At the basic level I am turning into a knitter, but I am also developing a new and intense practice ethic. 10,000 Hours is also helping me to not be attached to ideas about outcomes. I am learning to “do” with the highest level of effort, to keep working, and to deal with dropped stitches as they come. But there is no place for throwing up of hands and swearing off techniques on this trip. I have to keep at it. And that’s okay. It might take me thousands of hours… I just keep stitching ‘til I get it right.
To commemorate the first 500 hours (1/20th of the journey) I knitted a “Sea Foam” stitch lace swatch, attached it to a printing block, shellacked it for durability, and have run a limited edition print & watercolor on 100% rag linen paper. This print, Sea Change, is currently available through 10,000 Hours Sponsorship at the $100 level. The block is pictured above.
To join in on some of the discussion surrounding 10,000 Hours please visit the 10,000 Hours Ravelry Group. It is free to join Ravelry and the discussion group involves non-knitting specific conversations as well.