Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Need to Create

Two afghans I've crocheted.
by Susan

Yarn over hook,

draw through two loops.
Yarn over hook,
draw through two loops.
Yarn over, insert hook in next stitch.
Yarn over, pull loop through.

Stitch upon stitch – hundreds of them.
Hook flashes metallic green rhythm in lamplight.
Yarn turns fabric in my hands.
With each stitch, I think of you.
In each stitch, a prayer for you.
-Susan Vittitow Mark      

My family makes things.

My father was a carpenter. When I was old enough to be trusted with a hammer and nails, but not yet with a saw, I sat in the sawdust under his workbench and cobbled together a trapezoidal dollhouse from scrap wood.

My sisters' credo:
"She who dies with the most fabric wins."
One brother followed in Dad's footsteps. Three sisters work in yarn and fabric: two of them quilt, one knits. The fourth is a visual artist, her walls covered in chalks and watercolors she's done.

Sister #3 took me with her to crochet lessons at Sears when I was 10. When I was 12, she taught me how to sew, how to run the tracing wheel down the darts and set a 5/8 inch seam. My sophomore year of college, I spent a week running on Jolt Cola sewing an '80s-style puff-sleeved dress of midnight blue satin in time for the homecoming dance.

Recently, Cheyenne held an artists' fair. As I wandered from booth to booth admiring the pretty things and choosing a few gifts here and there, it dawned on me that I didn't want to buy art. I wanted to make it.

I don't have too much yarn.
I have too few storage tubs.
I found myself digging through the four tubs of yarn I own, much of it scavenged from thrift stores. I pulled six colors of secondhand rug yarn out and crocheted a rug.

I didn't need a rug. What I needed was to make something. Something physical, preferably, even if it wasn't terribly useful or practical. The drive to create is strong.

I would like my drive to create to be fully satisfied by words, but it is not. I am too physical a person. I don't come back to center through meditation, only through movement.

I keep a schedule busy enough that one of my bosses teases me, saying I need more hobbies. Oddly enough, I do. Even with limited hours in the day, I need my physical hobbies because they feed the creativity that fuels my writing. They give me an outlet where my mind can wander and grab snippets that it brings back to my notebooks and keyboard.

When I put down the yarn and hook, I'm better able to write. Creativity benefits from a kick from a different direction. Think of it as cross-training for the brain.

I get antsy if I go too long without making anything concrete. I get antsier if I go too long without writing. Sometimes a little crochet time is exactly what I need to jolt myself back into words.

What about you? Do you have other creative outlets that feed your writing?


  1. You need a little crochet time to keep from getting crotchety? I've found that sharing my love and knowledge of nature with others feeds my writing creativity. It's hands on and feet on, and it works wonders. Also, creative time sitting still, listening to classical music. Great blog, Susan. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Art. It's just something about the physical aspect. Yes, I do get crotchety when I don't crochet!

  2. My creative outlet is pottery - I love to create bowls and plates and mugs. The process of taking a lump of clay and creating something useful and (hopefully!) beautiful is a wonderful feeling.

    1. I bet it is beautiful, although I don't think (oddly enough) I've ever seen any of your pottery. Glad you enjoy it.

  3. Thanks for sharing Susan. The quilts are beautiful! I admire anyone who can take yarn and turn it into a work of art. I can't tie knots of any kind, barely learned to tie my shoes. I spend hours in my gardens. To me, the garden is a palette, and my most beautiful creation. I also paint landscapes with acrylics. Nature is my biggest inspiration. I love the magic of mountain hiking, streams and waterfalls. Gene Gagliano

    1. And I envy people who can keep a garden alive and who can paint. :) Neither one is a strength of mine. I feel terrible when people give me houseplants... I know they're gonna die under my lack of care.

  4. I really want to learn to create something physical. I see the appeal, but I have never tried it aside from making a basket once (which was extremely fun). I don't even cook much, or garden, or even attempt to paint. Something to aspire to! Thanks for reminding me to put this on my to-do list.


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