I wrote this blog post about how the work I do is often like jazz improvisation. I was thinking about that as I was out running this morning because a comment made by a colleague in an email had such resonance with me.
I actually really like structure, when it’s flexible enough for me to improvise.
James is helping me make my patterns rock stars. Since words are his specialty, I asked him to describe his business for you. “I’m a multi-lingual Tech Editor and work with clients who want feedback on all aspects of the pattern. I specialise in clients with English as a second language.” English is my first language but it is still surprisingly hard to find a way to effectively say what I want to communicate in a pattern so I am glad to have someone help me.
I find the jazz I like the most is jazz where the melody has some level of familiarity, but then things spin off, then return to the melody; repeat as desired. Not surprisingly, I listen to a lot of jazz while working. I’m particularly happy with that aspect of having Mitch working from home–he is a lovely DJ. One day when I was losing it he put on one of my favorite albums and peace was felt again in our lives. I am fully aware when he does that, and I am grateful that there is something to sooth me!
Once I understand something, then I want to know what else I can do with it. The facecloth shape I’ve been fooling with is just an improvisation. I noticed I liked the fan shape, but I felt the shape I was making wasn’t very interesting, and was probably bigger than it needed to be. But I wanted it to be easy and quick. So the cool thing this improvisation yielded is that each one takes about 10 to 12 grams of worsted cotton, knits up in an hour or two, and has only two ends to work in. Portable. Useful. Easily memorized. Odd how that seems connected to the Chet Baker, Let’s Get Lost, lyric (bridge) that keeps rolling around in my head.
I used to think that jazz improvisation was experimenting. Which it is, but what you hear in a recording or a performance is improvisation, based on experimentation, that has been refined and has a specific direction, even if there are deviations. That’s how I like my knitting too. I don’t want every piece to be exactly the same. I want to know that I can add flourishes, of make improvisations and still get a piece I’ll be happy to have around.