Monday, March 26, 2007

Why do I knit?

Why do I knit? It's certainly not to save money on socks.

I know, I know. I promised an answer to this question days ago, but the answer I've been formulating is so deep and profound that it required days of thought and this warning:

***Warning, the following post includes deep thoughts, grandiose social theorizing, and yarn induced mishegas. Proceed with caution.***

I knit because I have a profound need to make things. Whether it's a bowl of soup or a pair of socks, I have a need to create something with my hands and use the things that I make. I do not knit for relaxation or to achieve a state of zen-like inner peace. Knitting certainly does not put me into that altered state of consciousness that some knitters achieve rivaling Indian fakirs laying on beds of red hot nails. In fact, knitting often makes me nuts. That's why my knits spend so much time in jail. I am not a process knitter.

This could suffice to answer the question, but I'm not going to let it.

What put this need to make things into my psyche? As much as I totally hate to admit identifying with the label, I'm a Gen-Xer. Yup. I was born in the 70's to Baby Boomer parents. I'm a member of the generation of over-educated, underpaid, cynical misanthropes. Gen-Xers grew up seeing our parents make a mess of things. Social security is raided. Our faith in traditional modes of life is shattered. Our parents are divorced. They told us that we could have the American dream through education, but now we're in debt up to our eyeballs and need a second wage earner to afford a house. Worst of all, we pay $4.00 for coffee at Starbucks. With a hole in our hope for the American Dream as big as the one in the ozone layer, we're looking for something, but know not what.

Faithful reader, I can tell you "what." Gen-Xers who have realized our pain and disillusionment are seeking authenticity. Some of us, yes, are buying luxury homes with 50 year mortgages and getting upset when there's not enough foam on our lattes. However, others have acknowledged our sense of loss and disappointment with not being able to achieve the 1950's version of the American dream that our parents grew up in. We detest the "me" attitude of the 1980's. Some of us are neither slackers nor misanthropes. Or rather, we're reformed slackers and misanthropes. We've accepted our financial insecurity and embraced our independence.

Generation X is looking for something meaningful on our terms. Gen-Xers want to experience a meaningful and authentic life, but we're distrustful of the ways our parents and grandparents did it (and farked everything up). So we're going about things in ways that our parents didn't. Some have gone crunchy and prefer to eat only organic food rather than scarf down Bird's Eye frozen frankenpeas. A few found meaning in new age spiritual movements instead of going to church. I choose to make socks instead of buying those nice nylon ones that will one day live forever in a landfill.

So that's why I need to make things. I'm disillusioned with the single serving culture that I've lived in all my life. I want things that take effort to achieve and bring lasting pleasure. So I knit socks.

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