Made by Hand: The Gillean Wrist Warmers

GilleanThe fourth pattern from the Doggerland collection was released today: the Gillean wrist warmers. I am slightly perplexed how we have managed to hit the halfway mark already - but I am also proud of how the collection is coming together. I was so nervous that I wasn't going to be able to do justice to the ideas in my head but somehow it is all working out. The Gillean wrist warmers are all about my fascination with hands.

Since I began knitting again, I have been aware of my hands in ways I had not been before. There is an element of inhabiting the craft with your body and being conscious of how your body influences the craft. Sometimes I get into a creative flow: I no longer notice what my hands are doing and how they are moving. I am knitting and yet I am no longer knitting. My hands have taken over and they work the stitches, carry the yarn and hold the needles while I am doing something else. My body occupies another space to me. It is a peculiar feeling.

But then the flow is interrupted. A stitch is snagged on the needle, I need to change colour or the yarn has fallen underneath the chair. And that is when I start to contemplate my relationship with my hands.

My hands are fragile and sore today but they fascinate me by being so capable and strong. They are marvellously complex and marvellously versatile.  They ache sometimes, oh yes, and I can see an indenture on my finger where I carry the yarn, but my hands is what makes creation possible for me. I write, paint and knit. My hands turn my ideas into reality - these 54 bones enable me to articulate and transform my thoughts.

Our hands hold, break, give, take, make, mould, and change things.

Humans have been employing their hands since prehistory and we can read the past through the traces of their hands: a crushed hazelnut shell, a crafted tool, smears of paints on a cave wall. I look at my knitting and I know I am leaving behind my own traces, however ephemeral. These wrist warmers did not exist before my hands made them. They will shelter my hands; they are my crushed hazelnut shells and discarded flint flakes.

I have long considered taking on an art project regarding crafters' hands - how our hands interact with our craft, how our chosen craft have a physical effect upon our hands. Hand-spinners often see their drafting hand take on a different appearance to their non-drafting hand, I have an indenture on my finger from carrying yarns, and needle-workers can develop callused fingers immune to any needle-prick. I am sure there are many other examples. The question is really if I have enough time to take on such a project - and so I leave the idea here (though comments with examples of crafters' bodies changing due to chosen craft would be appreciated).

Halfway through Doggerland. Next pattern will be an actual journey into Doggerland itself - we have just been visiting its periphery so far.