From the current New Yorker


For many years, I have thought a lot about voice.  Not the voice you talk with, but one’s creative voice.  Having always wanted to be a novelist, my lack of a unique voice was, perhaps, my biggest problem and why I’ve essentially given up that dream.  That’s probably also why journalism was a good alternative for me — impartial journalists shouldn’t really reveal their voices other than in things like the kinds of stories they choose to report or the way they lead into a piece.

I’m finding that I am, yet again, struggling with voice — this time as a knitter.  As I’ve mentioned, I do a lot of copying of people’s projects.  I realize that the nature of knitting patterns is that several people will knit the same item.  But for me, I don’t usually stumble upon a pattern and choose to knit it from that alone.  Rather, I see someone ELSE’s version of that pattern and that — not the pattern itself — is what makes me want to knit it.  I am a big copy cat.

Similarly, I’ve thought for a long time about trying to design.  The possibilities just seem endless.  At the same time, I fear that I cannot come up with one single original idea.  Here’s what happens:  I’ll see something like…say, NeverNotKnitting’s Chloe…and instantly think, “Hey, I should design a cropped, striped, ruffled cardigan for my daughter!”  Rest assured, it’s less than a quarter of a second before I realize the absurdity of that thought.

I have all the tools available to me to design.  I have the knitting skill, the reference books and stitch guides, the plethora of inspiration (everything from nature to the needs of my kids’ wardrobes) and even the mathematical ability.  But I just can’t seem to come up with an original idea.  Once again, I haven’t found…my voice. 

Although I think my voice comes through a bit in my first-person writing (like my Interweave essay) or even in my photography and maybe a teeny bit in the scrappy hats that I knit, I wish I could truly find my knitting voice — both in picking patterns on my own, rather than copying what knitters I admire have done, and also in designing.

Have you found your knitter’s voice?  How does one nurture that?