Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Craftsmanship and the Quest for (Near) Perfection

I've been reading an amazing book called "The Craftsman" by Richard Sennett. It is an amazing book that is very much up my alley. Mr. Sennett defines "craftsmanship" as "the desire to do a job well for its own sake".

He goes back to the guilds of the middle ages and talks of apprenticeship and mastery. He discusses how our bodies adapt to our skill. For example, how the hands of a musician develop and are trained to move to produce the correct tone.

I could talk about this all day long! But, for today, I'm just going to apply his idea of "the desire to do a job well for its own sake" to my recent completion of a crochet project.

Crochet is a skill that I would say that I'm good at. I understand the stitches and what my hands need to do to make them, I have developed the manual dexterity to be able to manipulate the yarn easily. I do well at letting the developing pattern tell me where to go next. My intention is to do a good job for its own sake. Where do mistakes fit in to intention? I made some boo-boos in my project because I wasn't paying enough attention to the written pattern or because I made a mistake and let that mistake dictate my developing pattern on subsequent rows causing a kind of "mutation" of the written pattern.

Do unintended mistakes have anything to do with intention to do a good job? In this case, I believe I did all the right things. I chose a project that challenged me, I learned a lot about balancing reading patterns and letting the stitches tell me what to do. I was open to learning and challenged. My intent was pure. Mistakes are learning tools. A completed project by human hands will always have mistakes. The point of mistakes is to learn, the point of "making" things is to do a job well for its own sake. Both those things are the building blocks to (near) perfection in your craft.

Here's my shawl. The Blue Curacao Shawl designed by Doris Chan, interpreted by me! It's made of Diamond Luxury Collection's Pilar (Llama and Silk). I'm not going to point out the mistakes!

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