Thursday, January 5, 2012

Warning: This Post Has No Photos

I would like to preface this post with an apology: I'm sorry that I've been so talky-talky and not crafty-crafty these past few weeks! Much like a typical, predictable human being, I do believe that I've been using the end of year/beginning of year markers as a time of reflection. And while I have, in fact, been "making" things, I've been holding out on you, dear readers, because I've got some other shit on the front burners and I have a hankering to sort it all out. And so, I choose to use this wee little platform to foist my thoughts upon you (er...I mean, share with you). Don't you feel lucky?

I'll begin by telling you that I have been reading The World According to Garp. I have an obsessive tendency to finish every book I start--even books I hate--which was how I found myself reading all of A.S. Byatt's Possession as well as John Irving's most recent book, Until I Find You, in which I am almost positive he had no editor (or a very scared editor--someone who felt too intimidated to turn on the track changes and just have at the manuscript).

It was funny that I hated that book so much, because I loved John Irving's earlier book, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Have you read this book? You should really read this book. I read Owen Meany slowly--very slowly. It was the first book I had ever read where I simply did not want it to end, where I loved opening up the book and being in Owen's world for just a few pages each day. I was 19 when I read it, so who knows how I would feel about it now. But I am certain about this: the best part about Owen Meany is that it had a great ending. Oh, how I delight in a great ending! It has to be one that you didn't see coming. It should be fairly equal parts unhappy and happy. It should be insightful, and complex, and rich. The composition should be unfussy. It should sting your eyes a bit. It should have that airport feeling, of departures and too little oxygen. Since Until I Find You was a total let-down and Owen Meany was one of the most satisfying books I've ever read, I thought I would give John Irving a tie-breaker.

The World According to Garp was actually written before Owen Meany. I have 53 pages left to read and I have no idea how it's going to end. Or what the book is about really. But I like it. Much like Owen Meany, it's about the characters. Unlike Owen Meany, I don't particularly like the world that the characters are living in. But I do appreciate this: that the main character, Garp, is a writer, and that every step of the way, he struggles with his imagination, and goes long stretches of time--years, even--without writing.

I can relate to Garp's struggle.

I read a passage earlier this week, spoken by Helen, Garp's frustrated wife: "You should do your own work, Garp. Just your own work. You used to say politics were stupid, and they meant nothing to you. You were right. They are stupid, they do mean nothing. You're doing this because it's easier than sitting down and making something up, from scratch. And you know it. You're building bookshelves all over the house, and finishing floors, and fucking around in the garden, for Christ's sake. Did I marry a handyman? Did I ever expect you to be a crusader? You should be writing the books and letting other people make the shelves." And then at the end of her speech: "That's the kind of thing people do who can't write."

Oh Helen, how right you are. Friends, it has come to my attention that for the last several years (or maybe even the last decade),  I have been literally fucking around in the garden. From playing in bands to starting an Etsy business, I have done plenty of things that I enjoy (and I am extremely glad to have had those experiences), but I have not hunkered down and sunk my teeth into that activity for which I feel the most passion. I need to be writing.

Not to say that there is anything wrong with knitting, crafting, cooking, baking, or fucking around in the gardening. In fact, I think the reason I haven't been writing all of these years is because I was not sure of my topic. What do I have to say? I'm no expert. Who cares about my feelings? That's what a journal is for! This blog--this blessedly wonderful acre of land in the vast woods of ye olde internet--it is mine all mine, and it has become the topic that I was looking for all along. How did I not see this? For the past year and a half, I honestly thought I was honing my skills as a crafter, but the truth of the matter is this: I'm only a so-so crafter. I'm no great designer. I'm no artiste. And I have no interest in becoming a bag-making entrepreneur.

But I sure do like to write about it.

Perhaps my most wonderful discovery is that none of it has been wasted time. The hours and hours and the intense energy that I have poured into creating items for my Etsy shop or working in my garden--this has proved to me that I have the time and I possess a great amount focus. So why not put it toward the thing that I find the most exciting. And perhaps the most terrifying.

And so, the year begins with a slight cosmic shift. The blog is still called Knit Yourself Pretty. And it is still about making your life feel pretty through the act of making things--whether the project turns out nice or not. The posts will still contain pretty photos. I will still make things; some of those things will be ugly. But I may be saying it all a little differently from here on out. After all, I'm a writer first, crafter second. Now I know.


  1. Thank god. I'm so with you, girl. I'll read your words about fucking around with anything.

  2. Morgan, I think we both need to get tattoos that say "Stop fucking around in the garden." Our moms would be so confused. Love you, and love your support!

  3. But you'll still be entering the bake-off this year, right? RIGHT??

  4. Also: Yay for writing! And for fucking around in the garden! (Although I really didn't need to know that you were literally fucking around in the garden.) You know I've got your back, no matter the creative outlet, but I'm so excited for you to write again.

  5. Liana, this blog post reads like a key chapter in a book with a great ending. It makes your heart swell and your eyes sting and brings on that heady mixture of anticipation and excitement. Where you want to skip forward because you can't wait to see where this twist will lead, but you also dread turning every page because you want to slow down and savor every delicious moment.

    and, because it seems appropriate, this is one of my (numerous) favorite quotes from owen meany.

    “If you care about something you have to protect it – If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

    here's to finding the courage. i love you!

  6. Liana,
    I haven't read the blog in some time. (Life has been . . . well, life.) And I'm struck that only twenty minutes earlier (seriously, really), I had been meditating on my own relationship to writing (a different sort, but still, at heart, a creative act). I had come to the conclusion that at the core of the hesitation (which for me takes the form of organizing conferences, railing against capitalism and drinking alone) is a form of fear. Of taking what is inside and putting it outside, in some form that is intelligible to others. Can what we produce ever do justice to what shimmers in the corners of our mind? I don't know that it can. But to borrow a phrase that was introduced to me recently by a very wise man, we "must be sovereign enough" to be comfortable with that. (By the way, I lost something like three phones this summer, so your number is long gone. Miss you.)

  7. Dear Liana,

    I found your blog just under a month ago when, while attempting to identify an early Christmas present* from my aunt by doing a google image search for "flat wooden spoon", an image of your homemade candy corn popped up and I was intrigued. After reading a post or two I promptly went on an archive binge and, in the span of two and a half weeks, read everything. You see, I'm always on the lookout for interesting blogs and, on the surface, yours has all the right elements of stuff I'm into: crafting, gardening, ambitious recipes... But what I've only just realized now after reading this post is that every single blog that I follow (okay, there are only three besides yours) is written by people who are inherently writers, whether professional or not. What I'm trying to say is, from my perspective, in this space you've ALWAYS BEEN more a writer than a crafter or gardener or what-have-you. I don't think I would be anxiously awaiting your next post if you weren't. Your posts are full of the joy of life and I love being able to peek through your lens of how you experience the world. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that, whatever you're doing, I like it, and I look forward to more!


    p.s. Pictures of your garden have totally reignited my fire for finally growing some veggies!

    p.p.s. Which, of course, is only going to make it harder for staying focused on my own true love: designing. Damn you, green growing things! Why must you be so seductive?

    *Turns out it was an icing spreader. And since I rarely have the urge or need to frost anything, if you think it may give you the edge to win the next bake-off, say the word! (I think it may be magical!)

  8. Friends, these comments have made my year. It is a very young year, it's true. But each one of you who left a comment here--I want to hug your comment. I want to print them all up and put them on my wall. You each give me courage. And you are each a reminder of this simple human quality: if I take the time to tell you something that means a lot to me, the responses reflect that sincerity. (And I do hope, sometime soon, I can return that favor.)

  9. And Maureen! Um...magical icing spreader? Yes, please! The next bake-off may not be until April, but a girl has got to practice.

    1. Hello again! I've not been able to respond to you about the icing spreader all this time because for some reason when I try to get to your comments section, my browser just says "waiting for google" and never loads. It might have something to do with the fact that I have about 200 tabs open at one time, or that I haven't restarted my computer in a month. ANYWAYS, how do I get the icing spreader to you? Should I just address it to you at STC? Or you can get in touch with me at goaheadandspamme ~at~ yahoo (that's our junk email account). Also, the magical properties of this icing spreader maaaaayy have been a teensy, tinesy, weensy bit exaggerated. In fact, it is decidedly UNmagical. I'll admit I was just trying to get your attention. But that doesn't mean it won't be magical by the time it reaches you! What is your favorite color? And I do consider "rainbow" and "sunset" colors...

    2. Maureen! Oh my goodness, I JUST saw this comment. I'm really bad at, like, knowing what's going on with my blog. Anyway, hiiii! Can I just say you are the sweetest person ever for offering to mail me your un-magical icing spreader? I'm gonna take you up on that. (And honestly, after losing in a bake-off last week, I need all the help I can get.) You can totally send it to me at STC (115 W. 18th Street, NY, NY 10011). And to answer your other questions...hmmm...I would have to say my favorite color is "golden hour in California." (Btw, I love the option of a favorite color being a mood or a time or a place. Really takes the pressure off of having to decide between blue and coral.)

  10. Hooray! Wonderful, and congratulations, and good luck. I will read every last word.