Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ruminations...


Have you ever been going along, minding your own business,  happily making things you enjoy making, or doing things you enjoy doing, and suddenly someone expresses the thought that spending the time and money to say, hand knit or crochet that thing is just lost on them - because, after all, you can buy it so much cheaper than you can make it, or they would consider the activity a waste of their time?

I'm pretty sure my sock-knitting friends here have had that happen to them from time to time. Artistic folks and craftspersons who love experimenting with different tools and techniques surely have seen their fair share of raised eyebrows when some practical soul has trouble comprehending spending their time on pursuits that lead nowhere "useful".

Anyone reading this iron their sheets? I can imagine the jaw-droppings you've witnessed if you've ever publicly admitted to ironing anything - let alone bed linens. I iron certain items of clothing (a topic which receives a fair amount of tongue wagging when the subject comes up in my circles), but I confess, before watching this video, I would have dropped my jaw over the idea of ironing sheets:


Now that I've watched it, though, I'll admit I wonder how much nicer ironed sheets feel than my never-ironed sheets do. This gal ironed and folded that sheet in less than four minutes! Trading four minutes of a small bit of (not even hard) labor for 6-8 hours of yummy sleep on smooth sheets seems a reasonable trade-off. Am I going to give it a try? Probably not. But I'm curious, nonetheless. ;^)

Now seems as good a time as any to tell you that when I have the time and the weather permits, I line-dry our bed sheets. I didn't always. For years I was just too, I don't know... busy? modern? practical? I tend to consider myself all of these, but one day I bought a retracting clothesline to attach to our shed and strung the line between the shed and a post on our back patio and I decided to dry all sorts of things I had previously just tossed into the clothes dryer, bed linens among them. Just to see if I would enjoy doing it.  At the time I think I was also curious how many energy pennies I might save in the process. I quickly found the trade-off of a few extra hours of drying time for the pleasurable experience of slipping in between crisp sheets that smell faintly of the outdoors completely worthwhile. I couldn't care less if I'm saving any money. I dare say I might do it if it cost me money.

Years ago, I remember a discussion on an online forum where one of the members of the community told about how she enjoyed artistically decorating packaging for items she mailed out. She knew the artwork would likely get damaged and ruined with the rough handling it received by our US postal service. She knew that the recipient would probably throw the packaging away when they opened it. She even suffered the comments of many who felt compelled to tell her what a waste of time this was. I remember how I both disbelieved that someone would take the time to create artwork on something that would be abused and shortly after being received would probably be thrown away, and at the same time imagined the delight at receiving something from her. While creating has always been a part of who I am, I remember thinking "I'm too practical to indulge in something like this". And I felt poorer for thinking it.  The more I thought about it, I realized I felt something akin to admiration for this person that she did this - that she found an expression for the creativity inside her while bringing others, I would imagine, a very curious delight.

Are your wheels turning? Have you begun to think of some things you do that others wouldn't dream of (or perhaps have just never thought of) doing? Things, that while they may appear on the surface to be unnecessary work, they add some true, if small, pleasure to your life. Pleasure that's hard to quantify and is impossible to measure against such practical units of measure like money or time.


The immeasurable pleasurable thing I'm contemplating today is the humble hand-knitted or crocheted dishcloth. Until I had made my first one, I truly didn't recognize how good it felt to use something I had made for such an everyday, even mundane, task. Add to that, the squishy softness of some cottons and all the fun colors, and dish washing was elevated to something almost enjoyable for me.


Actually, maybe I'm just weird, but I often actually do enjoy the meditative quiet of washing dishes in warm soapy water, looking out my kitchen window at God's beautiful creation, sometimes seeing children playing in the yards behind ours, or watching the sky turn light or dark, depending on the time of day I find myself standing in front of that window.

That said, of course, there are times when washing dishes is the last thing I want to do, and I do rotate, to some degree, this duty with others in my household. But my point is... a simple handmade dishcloth is something I'm conscious of that adds pleasure to those few minutes for me every day.
 
 

Thinking about this, and knowing that this weekend I was going to be connecting to some very productively creative people (that's you, dear reader), got me to wondering what my creative friends enjoy immersing themselves in that others don't "get" (or wouldn't "get" if they knew you did... whatever the thing is).




What are some things, that on the surface may appear to hold no real extrinsic value, but you derive enough pleasure from that you still do them? You can certainly share artsy-crafty stuff, but I hope to also hear of things that are outside of that realm. I hope to read your ideas in the comments below.





16 comments:

  1. What a lovely post and great ruminating. I too like air dried sheets and towels when weather permits. The smell is so healthy and I know I sleep better on sheets that are air dried. I knit hemp potholders and people probably think it is a lot of work for such a utilitarian project but I love making them. My time, my decision. Thank you for your thoughts today.

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    1. Thank you, Mary-Anne for your encouragement, and for sharing the example of the knitted hemp potholders. I've seen yours and I have imagined how delightful they are to use. :)

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  2. This post spoke to my heart. I wish I had outside clotheslines, but alas, no where to put them. I love air dried sheets. And yes........I have people all the time thinking I am nuts to make socks and dishcloths. Then once they are gifted some of said items, they change their tune.

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    1. lol to the last part. Isn't that true of so many things? We balk and balk, but then we try it and we become instant converts. I'm glad my words spoke to you, Marsha.

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  3. So much truth in your post. I certainly get that comment about knitting socks all the time. The fact is knitting socks is fun, interesting, sometimes challenging and it satisfies a creative need in me. I find it a stress reducing almost meditative activity.

    Turning it on it's head, I often wonder why people feel the need to justify the practicality of everything they do. Is that a necessary test? Is some greater being keeping score?

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    1. Sam (below) speaks to a practical person's natural bent. And I do think this is the other side of the coin, or maybe another side of the box that is a puzzle of creativity vs productivity. Practicality, utilitarianism, functionalism... thoughts about these things have always been my own personal struggle. I've suspended concern over these things for the time being to experiment with creating for the sake of creating, rejecting the need to justify what I'm doing - just to see where it takes me, to see what I learn from it. I don't know what my conclusion will be when I reach one, if I reach one, but something freer than I've been most of my life seems a reasonable hope.

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  4. What a beautiful post, Becki! I know people think I am nuts for some of the things I do and they have even said it! I used to be asked why I wore my hair in a bun and if my husband liked it...hmmm...it was my hair and I don't think I've ever heard a guy ask another guy if his wife liked the way he wore his hair...really? I've also had many, many people ask me why I cook for myself from scratch and make such nice meals like Easter when I live alone....as if I am not worthy of a good dinner unless I am making it for someone else. I do iron but not sheets as I do hang mine outside weather permitting because I really enjoy wearing ironed items and sleeping on ironed pillowcases. I have always liked being self-sufficient so although I am not creative or artsy I enjoy creating and making things from scratch. I have a practical bent to it as what I make is usually useful items but then I also enjoy making things to decorate my home or someone else's too. One thing I have been blessed with is the strength to be myself regardless of what other's think and that at times has laid me open to much criticism. I may never iron my sheets but I admire that woman that does and does it well. I think everyone should be given the license to do whatever gives them joy as long as it does not harm anyone else. I especially admire people who are good at things that I am not....that's why I love this group! LOL! I love the saying (and I can't remember who said it)...."be yourself because everyone else is taken". Thank you for such a thought provoking and wonderful post!

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    1. I love these things you've shared, Sandra. As I was writing, I purposed to keep myself from going too far down roads that reached beyond the realms of our creative pursuits because my post would have just gone on forever. I feel like I test my readers as is. lol So many roads this topic could traverse. The psychology behind what is going on. The spiritual principles that can be applied. The fact that none of us is immune from doing this to others and on and on... I just know that as I grow older I want to grow freer - both in my own creativity, but also in how I treat others. I'm a pretty practical person, too, and this Year of Projects project appeals both to that practical side - setting some goals and pretending I'm trying to reach them, but it also nurtures that creative side that craves freedom of expression. And, in some very real ways, this YOP project challenges me in how I relate to others' expressions of creativity. I'm pretty sure when we carelessly diminish another's creativity (whatever form it takes) we, ourselves, are poorer for having done so.

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  5. Lovely to hear your thoughts on these subjects. I always dry my sheets on the line outside, and everything else gets drie outside to, as I don't own a dryer any more. I wasn't using it so I gave it my son. Much nicer to sleep within wind-blown sheets I think.

    One thing I do, that even my own hubby doesn't 'get', is tree-watching. I can sit and 'study' a tree for hours. It relaxes me, it gets me to look deeply at something that most people would only just glance at. It can be like meditation therapy to me, or it can take on a creative slant as I think about ways to recreate the different aspects of a tree in mixed media. I hardly ever really do recreate it though. I just enjoy the process of THINKING about doing it. I can literally spend hours just thinking.

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    1. I love your example of tree-watching, Cyra. I get the meditation part, and having seen your unique freeform creations, I can so picture how doing this would/could fuel your creativity - whether you recreate what you're observing or not. Thank you for sharing that.

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  6. Totally agree with all your points. I love drying my clothes outside, there are only a few weeks in a year when I don't. No one has ever said to me that I should spare myself the effort, but I'm sure they think it. I have been brought up very much in the diy/make do and mend era, and love it.

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    1. I love the make it do/mend mentality. I think I love it more than I actually do it though. ;^)

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  7. Such a beautiful post, dear Becki! I guess for me it would be winding yarn by hand, it takes so much time, but I feel like I get to know the yarn better this way. I also love taking photos of yarn, styling it, creating interesting layouts, playing with light and textures. Sometimes it takes me up to 5 hours prepare photos for a one single post and I definitely raised some eyebrows, but it brings so much joy to me, creating this visual journal. It just makes me feel happy and... home :)

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    1. Those are great examples, Alina! Thank you so much for sharing them.

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  8. When my dishwasher went out I was sad...but after I started using my own handknit dishcloths it made this "chore" not a "chore"anymore. I also enjoy the warm suds and view out my back window. Great post! ~Renee

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    1. I haven't had a dishwasher in so long I suspect if the time comes that I do (we move to a home that has one) I'll still tend to do dishes by hand.

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