It's official. I have signed up for Webs' Master Knitter Program. I've been going to the knitting drop-in just to have some free social knitting time outside of the house, and through that I met Jill, the person who designed the curriculum. The web site doesn't have the full description of the program; Jill has a handout with detailed information about the required courses, final project, etc. I'm really excited about it.
The program is an in-depth survey of knitting traditions and techniques. You take a series of classes, including classes in folk and ethnic knitting, stitches, finishing, color theory, and design. Master Knitter students are expected to complete projects associated with certain of these classes. You must develop beginner-level competence in two other fiber arts (I already have spinning, which qualifies, and now I have an excuse to learn to weave, although I admit to being able to crochet inexpertly). Then you design and complete a final project, under Jill's supervision, which can be anything from developing a commercial sweater pattern to a teaching curriculum. The whole thing takes 3 years minimum; I will probably do it in more like 5. The classes are just one weekend day per month, so it's not onerous in that way, but I really like the approach--tradition, history, technique, and a capstone project. I feel like this program will give me the tools to develop true mastery in the craft. And I'm excited about having courses that build on each other and a person to work with on an independent project. I could use a knitting mentor.
I think I mentioned before that I was way more excited about doing a master knitting program than I was about getting a doctorate in education. For some reason, signing up for this master knitter program, even though it's just weekend fun with my non-income-producing hobby, is triggering all my stuff about my career and my life path and blah-be-de-blah. So, after talking to some folks in the Ed.D. program, I realize that it's not realistic to do it while doing consulting and taking care of preschoolers. It's really a full-time gig, and I'm just not able to do full-time plus everything else. Not possible right now. I need to wait until there is a little more room in my life, whether it's more independence for the kids or more financial room for me to become a full-time gradual student making a cool 4 figures. And you know, who knows whether I'll find a new, more exciting path before that time comes.
Sometimes life feels very short. You know? I just feel like I have a million things I want to do, and then I also feel like crawling into bed and knitting and snuggling with the kids and hoping someone else will pay my mortgage. I feel so incredibly lucky to have so many choices as to how I want to live my life. But it's daunting to make those choices and know you're doing the right thing. I once read somewhere that 90% of the things people regret are things they didn't do that they wish they had done. Only a small proportion of the time are regrets about doing something wrong. It's inaction, not action, that we lament.
This is true for me at the ripe old age of 35 (how can I simultaneously feel young and like my career is slipping by?). When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a fiber artist. I adored fiber as a teen, and dreamed of becoming a weaver, a batik artist, a dyer. I took classes at Parson's School of Design through my NYC high school, but I had no art or design training, and I got intimidated and decided I wasn't talented enough. There was this school in Tennessee that I thought used to be called Tennessee Technical Community College of Arts and Crafts*. It was a public community college with residential programs in weaving, ceramics, glassblowing, and woodworking, if I remember correctly. I wrote to them for their viewbook and pored over it, fantasizing about going there for a two-year associate's degree in Craft. My parents thought it was a nutty idea, and I wound up following a different path. I took some art classes at my liberal arts college, did photography for a while (including a short stint as a professional "stringer" for a local newspaper), and then dropped it. Perhaps I wasn't talented enough. I am not one of those people who is just naturally artistic. I can't draw my way out of a paper bag; the person who tried to teach me Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain even got exasperated with me. When I made the mistake of taking Color Theory with a graphic artist at Parsons I thought I was going to stab myself with my x-acto knife because I could not seem to cut a straight line. But there's something about fiber that has always made my heart sing.
In many ways, I'm glad I followed the path I did. I have a career, marketing research, that I like, even if it doesn't feed my soul like craft might. I have a level of financial security that makes it possible for me to indulge these passions and consider other paths without jeopardizing my family's future. I choose my future path with a soft cushion of a master's degree and more than 10 years of expertise under my belt. These things are all worthy of enormous gratitude.
I don't think I will ever make a living as an artist or crafter, though I suppose I shouldn't rule anything out. But I feel like I'm at a place in my life where I want to integrate my creativity more with my professional life. Right now I'm hoping to do marketing research in the fiber industry, working for yarn companies, doing focus groups and surveys of knitters and weavers. Maybe I'll end up listening to people talk about which kind of acrylic yarn they like best, but heck, it's still in the world I want to inhabit. I'm qualified to do this work anyway; why not do it in a field I love, and one that I know intimately? Why not?
So, can you tell me why I'm so freaking scared? No, don't bother, I know the reason. It's because this is the right thing, this, for once, is what I really want, this is something that pulls together my professional and my personal selves, and what if, what if, what if....I fail? That's the hard part about getting your heart into the game. It's breakable.
*I'm so glad I blogged about this. I have looked for this place online many times in the last year or so, and was beginning to think I had dreamed it. It is now a part of another school, but they still exist. I am going to play at this website and fantasize about reliving my dream. Last time I checked, though Tennessee was a pretty red state, wasn't it. Maybe not the place to bring my alternative family so I can pursue a pipe dream, huh?