Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fibre and Freud and the furious clickety clack of sticks.

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.’

I may have mentioned a few times (!!) that the last few weeks have seen me knitting and crocheting like a woman posessed. It's the new embroidery at my house.

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 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.

Our next Sewjourn can't come soon enough. It's the best kind of hysteria.


A Peppermint Penguin said...

What you said.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Hi Nikki, felting looks so neat I want that to be my next 'self-taught with internet help' craft. Your jumper reaffirms my earlier decision. Thanks.

Fer said...

Oh my, that was a beautiful post! You summed it up perfectly.

The more I learn about Freud the more I feel he has a lot to answer for!

one little acorn said...

Hi Nikki... Often having time to think is worse than beeing too busy, but regardless, all those thoughts catch up eventually! And no wonder when that happens all at once we all feel a little bit hysterical!
I guess the trick is not to let it push you over the edge...
Cheers, Cinta xx

SEW RED HOT said...

Hi Nikki

Interesting post !

Sorry to be a bit 'off topic' but I'm just making my Baguette.

If you make it with the flap and have the magnetic catch on the flap and the bag outside, do you still need to do the catch inside on the facing? Wondering what gives the best finish?

I don't want to publish my email, hopefully you have it from earlier correspondence ?!

Thanks heaps


Posie Patchwork said...

Well if we bot get committed, let's share the craft activities room at lunch!! I often have a huge work load & find hand stitching my calm down focus & favourite thing to do!! I'll be doing it tonight for sure, what a big day yesterday - forget the election, we were doing the school BBQ on a snow alert. Wow, my aching bones, love Posie

CurlyPops said...

I'm very glad that the knitting is giving you some peaceful time. You really need it!
PS - totally loooove the vest.

Handmade said...

Meditative Space - that's it!!! Gunna get me some!

aracne said...

Great post, I have the same feelings of 'taking care' of myself when I knit. Poor Freud, sometimes he got things very wrong, especially when women were concerned...

meli B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
meli B said...

I must be permanently in a‘dispositional hypnoid state’
It feels great!