Knitters share a love of working with their hands. We all take pleasure in the look and feel of beautiful fibers, although we may have different styles. Some knitters fashion delicate gloves and hats and socks; others boldly combine colors and textures and then sail ahead without the anchor of a pattern to produce brilliant scarves and fingerless gloves. I tend to make garments, mostly sweaters, and I have knitted more of them than I can count or even remember.
I have given many sweaters away, but I have kept many others, and I continue to wear them--and make them. Most will last forever, and certain ones have come to represent periods or even moments in my life. There is the alpaca pullover that I wore to hear Jorma Kaukonen sing and play when I was newly pregnant, or the yellow cabled number that my mind's eye can see still on its needles, on my kitchen table in the Pacific Northwest. When I consider the sweaters together, I see how my interest in knitting has evolved, how conventional styles gave way to experiments in nontraditional color choice and asymmetry, and to explorations of vintage patterns and yarns. Is it a stretch to say that every sweater tells a story? If I were to seek deeply enough, maybe each one does.
A time came, though, when I needed to find a new way to think about this thing I do. I had so many sweaters, yet I wanted to create more. What was the sense in this? I discovered what I was searching for in the world of conceptual art. In its simplest form, this is art viewed as a process, with the making of the art at least as important as the tangible work. The work must be considered along with the idea that underlies it. According to this definition, all my sweaters and the making and wearing of them are conceptual art. Those sweaters that I give away and the actions of others upon them may be part of the process, too.
But let's not get too serious. It is fun to play with ideas, just as it is satisfying for me, conceptual artist that I am, to search through my books and yarn stash and plan my newest sweater.