Production and Me
The company I work for manufactures structural connectors. That’s the metal stuff you see when you drive by a construction site. Everything that holds the wood together, we make. When you walk into one of our plants, you hear machines stamping metal over and over again [*wack* *wack* *wack*] into the exact shape we need. One machine pumps out 200 structural connectors a minute. As I walked through the production floor one day, with my earplugs in and my closed-toed shoes staying within the yellow lines, one of the plant managers leaned over to me and said, “You hear that sound? That’s the sound of money.”
It’s pretty mesmerizing, to sit there and watch these machines produce thousands of the same product every day. Each piece is exactly the same. And everyone at my company has worked super hard to make certain of that. And I’m proud of that.
But I'm also proud of my hand-knitted garments, even though you may not find the same uniformity in them. Why are no two hand-knit pieces the same?
Knitters like experimenting. I like learning from the last project and seeing where I can improve. What would this headband pattern feel like with a thicker-weight wool? What about in burgundy? Seed stitch? Hell yeah!
Knitters are creative. I don’t like knitting the same thing over and over again. I get squirrel-y and bored, and I end up not finishing it. I like trying a new technique and advancing my skills with every piece I create. You wouldn’t ask a painter to repaint the same thing 10 times. (Why not, I’ll compare myself to Van Gough. I’m totally on par with his genius.)
Knitters don't do it for the money. Even the idea of putting a price on my knitted garments makes me squeamish. How to you put a price on something you visualized and then willed into life with your hands?
Knitters are enthusiastic. I want to share my enthusiasm for the craft with others. (Me to anyone who is near [usually my boyfriend while he’s eating]: “Just touch it! Feel how soft! Check out that stitch definition! Look at the color saturation on this wool!”)
Sometimes, knitters mess up. They don’t do one stitch right, just at this one spot. But that’s the signature of the handmade. That one little imperfect part is like a wink from the maker to the buyer. That’s how you remember where this came from.
So when I started looking through my inventory for the Girl Gang Craft Fair I’m doing in August (it’s my first craft fair and I’m not nervous at all, it’s totally cool), I realized I don’t have any two garments that are exactly the same.
But just as I was about I compare my own production consistency to the one of the company I work for, I remembered that knitters/makers/artists are not machines.
In fact, I am the opposite of that machine, impassively and indifferently stamping out product. I am deeply passionate about the craft. I immensely enjoy the production. I am filled with pride when I look at the finished product.
A handmade item’s merit should not be valued in its uniformity, but rather in its novelty, in its singularity and its uniqueness in a world that often values conformity. And while it’s great to have a consistent building part so that your house doesn’t fall down, it’s also great to have a one-of-a-kind sweater in which each stitch was thoughtfully crafted by hand. (And if it was made by me, it was probably knit with nail-polished fingers, with a glass of wine chilling super close).
So come see me and buy my shit, okay?