Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Knitting and Jazz

I like to listen to Podcasts in the morning. I have a 20-40 minute commute (depending on traffic on 101), so I get through quite a few every week. There was a dry spell in October where none of “my” Podcasts were updating. I had seven hours of driving ahead of me (to and from Grass Valley for a 75th birthday) and NO Podcasts.

So, I went into iTunes, searched for Knitting in the Podcast section and downloaded a subscription to EVERY single one. Since then, I consistently have between 65- 75 Podcasts on my iPod at any given time. The goal is to determine which ones I like, and which ones I don’t. When my “regular” Podcasts run out, I move on to the new ones. It’s a system.

This morning, I listened to IrieKnits, and she likened some aspects of knitting to jazz- mostly, the improvisation in both. Irie mentioned that improvisational knitting didn’t always work in her favor.

Disclaimer: I am not a jazz musician. I’ve dated a couple of jazz musicians, and I am (at best) a recreational musician.

Improvisational jazz is not for people who have a rudimentary knowledge of music theory. You have to have a relatively strong grasp on theory before you can be certain that what you’re playing will sound good. I think its 90% knowledge and 10% art.

Jazz isn’t a “simple” genre, not by any means; I think that’s part of what makes it so appealing to listen to. There are guidelines to give the musicians some structure, but that is heavily rooted in theory. I keep saying it. Theory, theory, theory.

The same goes for knitting- if you have a strong design/theory background, even if you screw up a piece, you should be able to compensate without much ripping. In my opinion, it takes a combination of experience and general knitting knowledge to be an effective improvisational knitter.

Part of me believes that if you’re a knowledgeable enough knitter, you WON’T indulge your whims because you’ll know that they won’t work. I’ve met a knitter like this, so I know it’s possible, but I’m not there yet. I’m working towards it.

Though I do create, I don’t consider myself to be a creative person. I am an editor, through and through. I take other people’s ideas, and I make them better. (Well, I think I make them better.) When it comes to building a piece from the ground up, it is usually – at least – inspired by something else that I have seen.

I don’t really improvise; I do the math, chart out the pattern, and take the measurements before I begin. I’ve learned that “just going” results in “just ripping”.

Improvisation takes a balance of brains and “balls”. It can be risky, but it can bear incredible fruit.

1 comment:

  1. nice post.. so true, improvisational knitting really only works if u have a solid understanding of knitting theory!


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