Friday, February 24, 2012

Rote Skills and Creativity

by Tam Linsey
I've often wondered why so many writer friends I know like to crochet or knit. For a long time, I refused to put a hand to a ball of yarn, insisting I had no time for such endeavors. But my critique group had dubbed themselves the "Critters and Knitters," and one by one, those who did not know how to create using needles or a hook took up the practice.
I gave in September of 2010, toting a single skein of cotton yarn and a crochet hook to our yearly writing retreat. I just wanted to fit in. I made a dishtowel, and felt I'd mastered the double crochet, so I moved on to making circles and got a matching set of coasters.
I learned the half-double crochet stitch and made a bathmat for my cousin as a wedding gift. How cool is that? I love homemade gifts.

Then came the back post stitch. And various types of increasing and decreasing stitches. Shell stitches, popcorn stitches, V stitches… Next thing I knew, I was making broomstick lace and creating sweaters and fingerless gloves.
My critique partners laugh at me.
Out of all the Critters and Knitters, I've become the most obsessed. I'm infatuated with textures and shapes. The feel of different types of yarn possesses me. When I'm stuck on a passage of my writing, I pick up yarn and hook and put a few stitches onto my latest project until my head clears. I've become so comfortable with the action of crochet, it is like second nature.
Now I realize why writers like to do hand-work; it engages another form of creativity and clears the mind just enough to find the plot point or character choice or perfect twist without occluding our thoughts about the story. Rote skills require us to engage a different part of our brain. (Plus keeping my hands busy keeps me from eating! lol!)
Playing Solitaire, taking a walk or a shower, even going for a drive can do the same thing. But I find I can be easily taken away from my writing if I leave my seat. So crochet works best for me.
Do you have an activity you find re-engages your creativity?
© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.


Bose said...

Very much encouraging! Skills Assessment Template

Casey Wyatt said...

Great post Tam! And nice job too! I alternate between knitting and crocheting while brainstorming or just killing time. It's a great way to let the mind wander.

Tam Linsey said...

You'd fit right in with my Critters and Knitters, Casey! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Liv said...

Crochet! I love making scarves and shawls and dishtowels and baby things. And my dog loves to play with my yarn. Sigh. It's a good thing he's a cute dog.

Tam Linsey said...

Cute, Liv! My bunny, Abby, plays with my yarn if I try to crochet when she is out.

Jae Awkins said...

Great post, Tam. Never thought I'D see the day that yarn work obsessed you, but its delightful to watch you make beautiful things (besides your children & your writing, of course....and your greenhouse, and orchard, and animals, and...... :o)

Tam Linsey said...

Thank you, Jae. you've always been such a great encouragement for me :) I believe we should never stop learning new things.

Pauline Trent said...

Stretching or walking are the greatest things for me when my creativity gets locked up. Something about moving physically gets me moving mentally, as well.

The post did make me laugh, though. I never would've guessed you started knitting so recently!

DeNise said...

Great post, indeed. Your skill has far outstreatched a little mind-clearing.