In Which I am Not an Expert, yet Quite Parenthetical

I begin this post with gratitude. While I was in the hospital, my husband brought me my “dumb phone”* so that I could make calls to family and send texts to some friends. It is also able to read my Twitter feed although sending a tweet is difficult to do for some reason. At any rate, I was able to see numerous @ replies regarding my request for energy and thoughts. It literally brought tears to my eyes, and the doctor doing rounds just as I was reading them became very worried about me until I explained that it was just tears of happiness that so many people cared. So I thank you all. Just when I start to think that humanity is made up of awfulness, the game changes and suprises me.

Now in my recovery from surgery, I am relegated to my bed or a recliner chair for much of the day. I can walk, and am getting stronger at doing so each day. But it is tiring and it takes only a short amount of walking around for the muscles in my back and neck to start tightening and spasming. So, I sit. I sit and read, use my laptop to scroll on Pinterest or Twitter, I knit and stitch (my hands are shaky, and there’s some numbness, but they still move when I tell them to), I rest, I chat with my dear husband, cuddle the cats who fight for space on my lap, play games on my old PS2, and watch old shows on Netflix, (currently Star Trek: Voyager) in their entirety from beginning to end. Of course, now that it is getting easier to type (I am still slow, but improving) I will likely start getting back to working from home fairly soon. My sick time (and that of my generous co-workers) is limited.

I completed a warm scarf for my husband (just in time for the Texas heat to begin). One of my own design and only my second attempt at intarsia knitting. I didn’t look up the right way to do it, just added some thin wine-colored stripes to break up the solid black he’d asked for. It turns out there is a right way and a wrong way to carry the yarn from one row to the next, but I lucked out and instinctively did it the “right way”. In the most recent issue of MAKE (Volume 30: Smarter Homes), a reprint of Phillip Torrone’s blog post Zen and the Art of Making reminded me that it is perfectly okay to approach a project in this manner. Where an expert may concern herself with making sure it was being done correctly, the beginner often takes a chance and does what looks or feels like it makes sense to do so. My current handiwork is a stylized reindeer embroidered on linen. Yes, I know it’s not the holidays. It takes me ages to stitch a design (or it did when I wasn’t faced with a long stretch of being stuck in a recliner) and I started it before last Yule. It’s possible it will take me until December to complete to my satisfaction at any rate.

But none of that is relevant. What matters is, it’s being done in some chain stitch, some stem stitch and some satin stitching. I am definitely no expert in embroidery, apart from counted cross-stitching. It’s highly likely that I am doing much of it wrong – or at least doing it in a way that someone with more experience would cringe at. In fact, I recently came upon a blog post by a respected stitcher regarding satin stitch in which he explained that one really should only use one thread at a time, and I am currently using two. It covers the field more quickly. And I rather regret that I read that post, not because he’s wrong (he’s quite right), but because it put a bug in my ear that I may be “doing it wrong”. My satin stitched fields look just fine to me, of course, and the fact is that this piece is for me, my household and no one else. I’m enjoying the task and the exercise for my hands, and in the end there really is no “doing it wrong”. I’m always looking through the blogs of crafters and imagining myself reaching their level of skill and cleverness. But I pray that I never consider myself an expert in any particular craft. As Torrone says in his post “If you’re a self-proclaimed expert in something, you’ll end up defending your work from other experts.”  And I’d rather spend my time beginning new crafts.


 * – As opposed to a “smart phone”, I have a pre-paid utilitarian cell phone that, while it does have web capability, it hasn’t enough memory to actually use it. Twitter only works by virtue of the fact that their mobile site is designed to be very light.

Category(s): crafts, health

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