Wednesday, August 8, 2012

finding your focus

I showed photos of the rocks-in-my-river in my last blog post. But here’s an interesting extension to that photo.

On my son’s first visit to Ottawa after my move, we (he, my daughter, I) all went down to the rocks. John, the artist, was also there. We had a conversation about his rocks, and then the fun began.

Jeremy took photos of the rocks, and Caddy began leaping into the frame. John loved what he was seeing and brought out his camera. Some months later, we all shared our photos.

So here is one of Jeremy’s.


        And here is one of John's.


 Do you see the difference between the photos? Besides the poses and the rocks, what’s different is that
  • in Jeremy’s photo, the rocks are in focus and Caddy is not,
  • in John’s photo, Caddy is in focus and the rocks are not.

Unlike the human eye, the camera has to choose what to focus on: Jeremy (taking his sister for granted) chose the rocks! John (taking his rocks for granted) chose Caddy! (An interesting follow-up is that each guy preferred the other’s photo! Is that like wanting curly hair when yours is straight?)

This made me think about focus—the need to take nothing for granted, the need to focus on the forest (the big picture) and the trees (the details). We don’t have to choose (like a camera) but can do both (like the miraculous human eye).

When we knit, what are the details? All the little techniques we know, love, sometimes take for granted. (I have an ESSENTIAL SKILLS workshop in which we look at all of these, exploring choices and the reason for them. It's a much-loved class for a thinking knitter.)

When we knit, what’s the big picture? For me, it’s the answer to the will I wear this question. Does it fit me? Does it suit me? Will it fit with my wardrobe? (My favourite workshop, KNIT TO FLATTER AND FIT, is a very personal exploration of this subject. It's important, it's fun, and it's often a revelation.)

When I teach, I want to teach both workshops, because the forest and the trees both matter! And when I knit, I need to keep both the big picture and the details in mind. 

A quote I love but cannot attribute is The hardest practices to change are the ones we take for granted. In whatever we do, we should ask the question: what are we focusing on to the exclusion of something that matters equally . . . but that we are taking for granted?


  1. She's flying! Great photos and post - thanks!

  2. It was a magical night indeed!

  3. Looking forward to hearing all the "details" in your Essential Skills workshop in September when you are in St. Thomas!

    1. It will be great fun, I promise.
      Imagine 6hrs of just looking seriously at different ways to cast on, decrease, work selvedges, etc, etc, etc. What could be more wonderful?!?!?

  4. I have been struggling with all of these things in my knitting lately. Which has kept me going round and round as to what to take at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. You helped me tremendously in making the decision. Thank you, see you there!

    1. Wow, what a nice thought. I do hope you'll find me and say HI.
      Thanks for writing!

  5. Coming in late to this blog post, but boy can your girl fly!

  6. yup. we were all amazed at the time. and the photos make it look more amazing that it might actually have been! but great fun!

  7. I just bought The Knitting Experience, Book 1 and it is fabulous. I would love to know what yarn was used for most of the instructions in this book (the cream coloured one) as well as the light coloured yarn used for the Einstein Jacket. This is going to be my first project from this book.

  8. I'm sorry it took me a while to respond: I'm travelling and working with spotty online access.

    For all patterns, the yarn used is listed in the caption to each photo.
    Hope that helps, and have fun!