August 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm (Uncategorized)

Today’s title is a new word. I didn’t make it up, so don’t blame me that it’s a German root with Latin infixes. Instead, I want you to explore the implications of this word with me.

“Polycraftual” is a word that gets bounced around often over on ravelry.com, my home for all things knitting. It means, essentially, that a person is interested in two or more crafts. Whether someone weaves and knits or spins and crochets, he or she is polycraftual.

This can be a dangerous thing, but I’ve found that it helps my writing. Here’s an example.

Earlier this year, I was starting a new project. A writing project, specifically, and I needed help with a character. I knew as I started that I wanted her to be odd, the one source of humor in what could be a very bleak book.

At the time, I had just joined another group of knitters who each planned to knit ten shawls in 2010. I thought, hey, what about a shawl for her? This character could wear a shawl in all sorts of odd ways. My favorite idea was having her wear one instead of a skirt.

The problem: would that idea even work? I would need to test it out…

So I dove into the yarn stash and got working.

Unfortunately, the schoolyear had other ideas. Working on my story ground almost to a stop. The knitting, however, went on; I used a simple stockinette pattern. (Non-knitters: this means the project was practically brainless knitting.) Shortly before I moved, I bound off the shawl and wore it to my graduation. Unfortunately, it was way too small to wear as a skirt. When I finished moving, the shawl didn’t even come out of the box.

Work on the story continued, however, and I eventually rediscovered the shawl. It’s finished now–I picked up stitches along the edge and worked until it was big enough. In finishing it, though, I discovered something tragic: my idea wouldn’t work. As I was soaking the shawl so I could pin it out, the wool absorbed a surprising amount of water. My character lives in a damp climate–that could be a problem. Not only would the shawl be heavy, it would probably felt. If I wanted her to wear a shawl, it would have to be made of a different fiber, which didn’t work (for reasons that involve spoilers).

I suppose I was lucky. I had to revise the beginning of my story, and in doing so, I calmed my character down. The shawl never appears around her waist now. She wears a smaller incarnation of it at her shoulders, where it’s less likely to be felted by belts or boots.

But the shawl does exist. I’m wearing it now, in fact. That’s what I like about being polycraftual: combining my writing with my knitting motivated me to work on two projects I might have neglected otherwise.

Permalink 1 Comment