From The Subversive Stitch by Roszika Parker -
“By the end of the [19th] century, Freud was to decide that constant needlework was one of the factors that ‘rendered women particularly prone to hysteria’ because daydreaming over the embroidery produced ‘dispositional hypnoid states.’
Lately, I feel like I'm juggling too many chainsaws (while standing on a skateboard... on a tight-rope... strung on rickety scaffolding.... in a Force-9 gale......) and the hypnotic clicking of knitting needles creates a space for me to think in a free-wheeling, non-linear, mulling-it-over sort of way (sort of like swimming - but without the water and the body-sculpting exercise).
I've contemplated the cycles of life, relationships, family, grief, business strategies, interior design, hair colour. The lot. And I think Freud was onto something.... although he slightly missed the mark, got the whole cause-effect thing a bit scrambled and cast women in an exceptionally negative light. ("Daydreaming over embroidery".... Hmph!)
As Roszika Parker says in her book, women in the 18th and 19th centuries had to stifle their independence and intelligence if they were to be an acceptable part of society, and needlework was simultaneously integral to the "feminine ideal" and a method of subversion by those very women. Think: Jane Austen hiding her half-written manuscripts under her embroidery, the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scotts embroidering coded messages to her sympathisers.... and also everyday women giving their intelligent and independent minds the time and space to think.
Ah, and that's where I (and my fellow 21st century sisters) come in! We're given the opportunity to explore our independence and intelligence in our crazy, busy 21st Century lives. Crafting is not just a creative outlet for us - it's often a way to claw back a bit of that meditative space, to look at the way things are....to find the path ahead, a way through, or simply a place to be still.
There's much to be done if I'm to think about my to-do list (or the piles of stuff around the studio). There are also family commitments. Laundry to do. And I believe I told people I'd be starting classes again soon (oops, hasn't happened yet, sorry!).
....And I'm knitting!
That quiet, contemplative, creative space - or that dispositional hypnoid state - is where it's at. I'm taking it wherever, whenever and however I can.
Sometimes it's a 20-minute quick-fix with a felted jumper (another casualty of the front loader) a sewing machine and some felted bits by my very busy girl. (A quick little winter-proof vest for the kinder kid). There's also an In Threes cardi on the go.