Tic Tactile

Winter brought school holidays for my children, and with it the opportunity to spend some time at the coast in northern Tasmania. We unplugged and took long walks, and I was reminded again of the way kids explore the world.

Our son is seven. Besides running and climbing, I noticed the very physical ways he experienced and recorded his time at the beach. His pockets got filled with shells and she-oak cones, sea glass and stones. He would point to things, touch them, chat about them, ask questions about them, and remark on colours or textures.

Of course, being part of a digital generation, he was also keen to use my camera to take some photos. He chose that means of recording for the rockpool creatures he was less keen to disturb by prodding.

By contrast, our eldest daughter (a newly-minted teen) was talking about her emotional response to being able to climb and walk and see the horizon. And our middle daughter (eleven) chatted about her memories of other such holidays.

The kids, of course, had no concern for the time of day, or planning what to eat or where to be next. They were completely absorbed in the moment; in finding the familiar and marvelling at the novel. They were truly connected to their environment, as well as their responses to it.

This is a story about conscious connection. This is something I’ve observed in the crafting community; and it’s on the rise. We are not only becoming more thoughtful consumers. We also care about provenance, and what it means for the feel of the product we’re using.

As we fill our proverbial pockets with the treasures we find, we aren’t just paying attention to the colours. We observe the feel; the textures, the way a fibre behaves. We are asking questions about where it came from. We are learning about how fibres are grown, how they are processed, and the implications of these treatments. Why does that wool feel different to that wool, and which wool is best for this purpose?

I’m finding this a profoundly satisfying adventure. I enjoy hand-winding a skein into a ball. I love choosing a needle-size and casting on a little swatch. I will measure the gauge before I soak it and leave it to dry, observing the difference that blocking makes to the fabric. And sometimes I will simply pull out skeins and balls of yarn and bundle them together to see what works, dreaming about what they might become. It is not an urgent process, but a slow acquainting.

At the root of it all is the question – what is the story here, and what do I make of it?