I’ve always been intrigued by creative projects that span a long length of time and require a commitment to a repetitive or regular process – take one photograph, paint one painting, or write a poem each day for a year, for instance. Knitting is similar to these projects in as much as larger knitting projects require long term commitment to a repetitive process but one that also has a final product – a knitted item that grows with each row.
I was especially taken by a project I read about in Helen McDonald’s memoir, H is for Hawk. Her father, a British photojournalist, decided he wanted to photograph every place in England where one could cross the River Thames. He spent a year of Sundays devoted to this project and McDonald joined him on several of his Sunday expeditions. The crossings ranged from large bridges that one could drive across to spots where the river was but a trickling stream on someone’s rural farm that one could step across.
Since reading about that project I have had it in my mind that I wanted to take on a similar yearlong (or longer) creative project. When I did a serious review and reorganization of my yarn stash this past fall, an idea struck me. The stash was full of unfinished projects (UFOs) that I had started and abandoned for the various reasons we knitters start and abandon projects but primarily because I was seduced by some other pattern or yarn or the need to knit a gift for someone and cast on a new project. I chose to discard or unravel some of the UFOs, but most of them either still interest me or are projects I will need to sit down and take a good look at in order to decide whether I want to continue. In short, I recognized that I would have to spend a very long time reviewing, evaluating, and completing all the projects I had. And there was my idea: What if I spent a year or longer devoting my knitting life primarily to reviewing and finishing these projects, knitting every day or several days each week on projects that spanned as far back as the late 1980’s! (Well, there are just two that go back that far: mittens and a sweater with a color work design from an Aarlan Journal, a series of pattern collections published by a German company in the 1980’s.)
The idea was more than a goal to finish as many languishing projects as possible. I wanted to explore the process of revisiting each project, engaging with the yarn and the design, and completing the knitting. Having reflected on the idea for nearly two months, I recognize that I want to know what that repetitive, committed process will feel like and elicit in me as a knitter devoted to her craft. I want to explore whether such a process will deepen my relationship with what I consider craft as an art form. I also want to reflect on who I was when I started these projects and whether my maturation process and personal development as an adult will change my relationship with the objects and creative endeavors now. And I want to write about my journey.
But I also want to have fun – because knitting is also play for me. Honestly, doesn’t knitting qualify as endless hours of adult entertainment, if only for some (lucky) adults (and younger people)? In the spirit of fun, I have named my project Mission KnitPossible! And because knitting can be communal (I have knit with a group of women every other week for more than twenty years), I want to invite anyone in the knitting world to join me on this journey, whether you have two UFOs or, like me, so many you haven’t counted. I have created a Mission KnitPossible group on Ravelry where we can come together virtually to share our process and our finished objects. I will be on Instagram too. Please join me for the year of the UFO.