Pushing the Envelope: Life Beyond the Box

Knitting has many applications. I like to think of it as Yoga for the hands. Besides the obvious, in that it is utilitarian, it is also supremely portable. The act of knitting itself is meditative. I suppose that is why I don’t like to rush through my knitting and why I don’t think in terms of how fast can I get this done and get on to the next item.

Don’t get me wrong, I think “fast food” types of knitting projects have their purpose. But as in all things, balance is a good thing.

Motorcycle pupHow do you think of your knitting? Is it something you do for yourself? Is it something that is a chore? Is it it like spending time with an old friend? Is it something you make choices with based on what you want, or on other things? Ultimately, to my way of thinking, the most satisfying projects are ones picked out of what you truly want for the end project.

Which brings me to todays topic. What does pushing the envolope mean? Or the phrase “thinking outside the box”. I have to tell you I really hate those two phrases, as I feel they are overused to the point of being trite. They no longer mean anything. I mean, generally, if you are pushing the envolope I would hope there is a point to the envelope pushing. Rather like a protest without a topic, it is not so dynamic if it is a knee jerk reaction.

Pushing the envelope means to take something as far as you can, maybe push what you can do to make something go from the mundane to the special.  Thinking outside the box means to not reach out of habit to that which is familiar, but looking at other solutions and angles for the best solution.

What is the best solution for you? What do you want? Your knitting does not belong to anyone else. It is part of you and as such, it is perfectly fine for it to reflect what you really want. If you really want to knit lace but don’t care for pointy edgings, don’t put one on. Knit your lace the way you like it. If you really like the delicacy of lace but are afraid you would have trouble with finer yarns, play with some finer yarns than you are used to, and work yourself down to what you really like. Make your choices not out of being afraid that you could never do something, but based on what you want.

Sometimes, pushing the envelope is as simple as a garter stitch border on a piece of complex lace (not made because we are afraid to do an edging, but because the design is felt to not need a different treatment). Since most lace pieces we see have an edging to them, this is unexpected and says “I don’t need more to be special”. I am using these examples as they come to me, there are more of course, but I have been in lace mode lately so that is what I think of.

The picture is one sent to me by our friends that we visited in Florida recently. This gentleman and his dog was something I wanted to get a picture of and my friend Donna sent one of hers to me. Talk about living outside the box. While I am not saying you have to have a motorcycle or a dog willing to ride one to do it, it illustrates what I am talking about. Our knitting life reflects how we deal with other parts of our lives too. Why not a red motorcycle with your dog? He is happy. I love it, to be honest.

It is your knitting, do what makes you happy.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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4 Responses to “Pushing the Envelope: Life Beyond the Box”

  1. Mary Pat Says:

    Really enjoyed your post and agree with it. I use to play tournament bridge and hated it when they looked down on party bridge players. I said isn’t it wonderful that bridge can be enjoyed at so many different levels.

    I feel the same way about knitting. If your joy is knitting the same pattern over and over so be it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage some one to try something new but just recognize it might not be their thing (another well used phrase).

  2. Lynda Says:

    How do I think of my knitting? Is it something I do for myself? Definitely. Even if the finished item is meant for someone else, the time and the choices that go into it are mine, mine, MINE! That’s one reason I don’t knit custom orders. When asked, I usually quote what appears to a non-knitter to be a mind-boggling price and note that I couldn’t even start the item until thus-and-such project is finished. Strangely enough, I’ve never had anyone plunk down the hundreds of dollars I quote for a custom-knit adult sweater. (Hey, never mind that it has $75-$100 worth of yarn in it and 40+ hours of labor even for a simple top-down raglan pullover.)

    As you said, knitting is portable. It’s productive. It’s calming. And when you’re done, you have something that didn’t exist before you started. The only other thing I can think of that meets those criteria is pregnancy. (Okay, the giving birth part isn’t calming!)

    I used to resist working with finer yarns because … yes, working a 2X sweater on size 3 needles takes a loooooooooong time. Then I began to see the beautiful drape and the subtle fitting techniques that are possible in fine-gauge yarns.

    As for the time it takes … the time is going to go away anyway. Six months from now, I can have a beautiful sweater. Or not. In either case, I’ll be six months older, won’t I? Therefore the SQUIRREL MONKEY (a JoLene Treace Design!!!) that was started in November will be finished in April. (Fingers crossed.) And that will be just the right time to begin wearing it.

    Peace & Good Knitting!

  3. jolenetreace Says:

    Dear Mary Pat

    Isn’t it funny what folks get their knickers twisted about? We have such diversity in our culture that we take it for granted.

  4. jolenetreace Says:

    Lynda, I am with you there as I am a 2x ample myself. But I love fine yarns. Glad you are having fun with the Squirrel Monkey! I have got to get more things knit for myself. Kind of like the cobler with no shoes. Send a picture when you get it done, I would love to see it.

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