As any knitter knows, there is the philosophy of gauge. But what I think knitters forget sometimes is the PSYCHOLOGY of gauge.
I never pay attention to the “gauge” concept. Ok, ok, ok. The intention behind a gauge is that if you’re following a pattern so many stitches across, and so many stitches worked up, should result in an exact measurement. Its an important idea, a very solid way of measuring how well you’re doing against a pattern….but, then I taught Kara to knit and it struck me, something about the gauge only says what SHOULD happen….not what IS happening.
Kara came to me and said, “To keep up with your orders, you need some help. Teach me to knit.” So, I did. It would be easier in life if I subjected to the same comments I’ve received before from people around the world: “You wanna make this work? Charge more….” But, I can’t. I just can’t. I WANT them to be affordable. I mean, we are so bogged down with orders that need to be filled, but in order to keep up with the rent and the electric and food and all of that, I still have to keep selling…at an affordable price. I could make them more expensive, but they would be exclusive. And that is never ever what I wanted. I wanted anyone to be able to have one. I HATE the idea of exclusive.
So I taught Kara to knit within a week and she was flying. Double pointed needles in hand, she was helping me with the “bodies” of the bear. But, when I received her work I was concerned.
The stitches were strangely tight, eerily close. And as I watched her working up another body I couldn’t help but see this expression on her face, this focus that looked like someone trampling others to get to the finish line. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “Calm down….What’s the matter?”
“We have to get these done. Now.”
“But, I can’t use these. They don’t fit. The gauge is off.”
“You said there was no gauge.”
“Well, that applies only to SANE people. What the hell is wrong???”
The extent of our conversation goes no further than her and I, but that is when I realized that the gauge for measurement is flawed compared to the gauge for your emotional ability to pick up some needles and work up a piece. If you are hurried, rushed, wide eyed and filled with the assembly line terror of just finishing, this won’t work. Nothing you work up and knit will work. It’ll all come out flawed and strange, reeking of your negativity, the things you don’t wanna say, the things in your heart you wish to ignore; those pierced eyed and clenched fists will burn themselves into your knitting and it will scream of everything you DID NOT want to say.
However….If you let that all go, and move through the action with extension of what peace you’re looking for, and NOT what you’re demanding, then something different will happen.
I’m often accused of not being able to maintain a relationship because I can never do the holding hands, kiss and cuddle bit. Sorry, but I show my love in other ways. I work these hands in moments of frenzy that bring to life something that I cannot PRECISELY say, but rather implied. I spend six hours working up one bear with all hope and intent that you will FEEL that, you will KNOW that I love you, and that I thank you. That I am grateful for you keeping me alive and with a place to live and food to eat every time you buy one of my bears. And, there have been times I’ve worked up a bear and I never mailed him, because I could look at him and see the stress, the fear, the hopelessness and I couldn’t dare send him. Those bears are taken apart and reworked with the reminder of, “Make him speak for you, make his face say something kind….”
“No….that’s not what we do,” I told Kara. “We don’t knit just to get it done. We make these bears with hope and compassion. We don’t do it just to get orders filled. It has to be done right…..it’s like any other art form….it has to come from the heart. Otherwise people could get the same emotionless crap from Walmart. This is different. Every action of your hand must reflect the beauty you wish to convey.”
(Imagine if we all did that often, daily, every minute…..the actions in your hands reflecting the beauty you wish to convey.)
Never would I have thought the gauge had metaphysical significance, but there you have it….You find epic moments of the soul found in simple action. A gauge is, I guess, not really intended to show mathematical importance, but to reveal something more primal and informative. If your gauge is off, then perhaps something inside is bothering you.
Thank you so much for all of you saving me another month. I’ll get these bears out…..But each one that goes out must be done right, must be worked up right, must hold, contain, and bridge a moment between you and I. You HAVE to feel my care for you when you get him…YOU HAVE TO. You HAVE to know that I love you and thank you when you open that box and see his face. It MUST be the first thing you see and feel…..Those little embroidered eyes must say, “Thank you for rescuing me.”
Otherwise, this won’t have meant a thing.
(PS. After our talk, Kara’s gauge kicks ass.) :)