Sunday, February 14, 2010

Creativity

Projects

The Ravelympics have started so I've started my Phazelia's Mitered Sweater for the new niece coming next month.  It's a super fun knit.  I like mitres anyway and I'm really enjoying how all the sock yarn scrap colors are coming together. It's a bit hard to get a good picture of it just yet so that will have to wait.  I did get in lots of knitting time yesterday so I hope it will move along quickly.  If I can really get these two projects done in two weeks I'll be thrilled.
The mass cast on was fun.  I was on the Team Sasquatch chat and Twitter.  It was a bit hard to watch the Olympic opening ceremonies, watch the chat and Twitter, and knit all at the same time so I ended up casting on too many stitches for the arms.  I then grumbled about knitting the 172 backwards loop stitches before I realized my error, ripped them out and cast on and knit the 54 I was supposed to add.  Duh.  This is where Jasmin and Gigi's training tips, like, hello, "read the pattern" you idjit! would have come in handy. 

Musings

In my last post I mentioned that I'm reading a book about creativity which I'm really really enjoying.  It's Creativity:  Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  This is not a simple read so I'm reading it in small bites.  It takes a while to digest them.  But it's incredbily well written which makes it easy to understand these big ideas.  He's got so many good ideas that I don't know where to start. 
One of his basic premises is Creativity (his capital letter) must take place within a system, not by itself.  He says, "Just as the sound of a tree crashing in the forest is unheard if nobody is there to hear it, so creative ideas vanish unless there is a receptive audience to record and implement them."  "According to this view, creativity results from the interaction of a system composed of three elements:  a culture that contains symbolic rules, a person who brings novelty into the symbolic domain, and a field of experts who recognize and validate the innovation.  All three are necessary for a creative idea, product, or discovery to take place." (1)  I couldn't help but apply this thought to the current state of knitting.  Elizabeth Zimmerman, Kaffe Fassett, Cookie A and the Yarn Harlot could all sit around their homes and think of interesting things about knitting and that would be very creative for them, personally.  But for EZs ideas about construction to be Creative there had to be a community of people who were all working with the same rules about knitting and who recognized EZs ideas as valid, interesting, and worth pursuing.  The same goes for Kaffe Fassett's ideas color, Cookie A's ideas on socks or the Yarn Harlot's ideas on how knitting colors the lives of modern, western knitters.  These people have impacted the domain of knitting in such a way that it is different since their ideas were made public.  If they hadn't shared their ideas with other knitters, the craft wouldn't be what it is today.  And this goes for so many other truly creative people in the field right now. 
So far the book doesn't deal with how the internet can effect Creativity.  It was written in 1996 so it might not address the matter but in thinking about just the domain of knitting I can't help but recognize Creative people like Casey of Ravelry and Amy Singer of Knitty.  If you have to share your ideas in order to be Creative then the internet will promote more chances to recognize Creativity because creative individuals can share their ideas within a domain more easily.  They don't have to be at a conference or in the same town or at the same yarn shop.  They can be anywhere in the world!  It's so exciting.
Then I have to ask myself if the resurgence in knitting helped promote some of this creativity by providing a larger domain of knitters for new ideas to come into?  Or is it the new ideas that are convincing more people to knit?  Of course, in questions like this it's usually a little bit of each.  For example, the Yarn Harlot's creative ways of looking at how knitting intersects with life and blogging and publishing about it bring awareness of knitting to people who might otherwise not think about it.  And some of those people will pick it up and try it.  And a few of those people will become Knitters.  And a couple of those people will have a new way of looking at some aspect of knitting and they can easily throw it out to this large domain of knitters for review.  The question of whether or not the ressurgance in knitting led to more creativity in knitting gets to the heart of education.  As more people learned the language of knitting, there was a bigger domain of people to look at ideas and validate them.  It's a beautiful cycle.
Lest you think Csikszentmihalyi (I'm glad this is a blog, not a podcast since I've no idea how to pronounce that name) doesn't value personal creativity I will you tell you that he does.  He notes that our personal lives would not be as rich, fulfilling, and happy if we didn't have some personal creativity day to day and I agree with him.  Whether it's cooking, home decorating, raising a family or crafting, creativity is an essential part of daily existence.  That is certainly one of the big reasons I knit and maybe it's one of the reasons you craft too.  The next time you're browsing Ravelry or looking at a knitting magazine, think about the fact that not only has the designer come up with a new combination of stitches to create a new pattern, but you are there to validate that act.  And the next time you have an idea maybe you'll choose to share it too.

(1) Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity:  Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention New York, NY:  HarperCollins 1996.

1 comment:

  1. Adding you to my list of enablers--you are on my book enabler list. This book sounds like something I will absolutely read. I love the last two sentences of this post. I ski in Colorado, btw, to answer your question. I can't deal with skiing on ice--when my butt smacks down, I want nice, soft, groomed powder. And a lodge with liquor VERY close by.

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