Wildcraft: A Musing
I have found myself wandering of late, not far, nor exotic, more like here and there, back and forth etc…little trips home to my parents or a brief fishing weekend at Grand Lake Stream, Maine; a jaunt into a remote cabin in the Maine North Woods, not to mention the upcoming 10 day wilderness, canoe trip my husband has planned for our anniversary. Well, these sojourns have me thinking, thinking about wilderness and craft. All of these trips attest to the fact, that indeed, I participate in wildcraft. Now, when I hear wildcraft woven baskets and bone handled knives come to mind. Typically associated with plants, foraging, gathering, picking… this is wildcraft, and sometimes I participate in this tradition as well, but for the most part I have devised a new definition for myself.
Wildcraft for me has come to mean enjoying the outdoors, untamed spaces, nature whilst also managing my deep craft of knitting, and after my most recent trip into the wilds of Maine, I am affirmed that knitting is the ideal craft to take with me.
I began as a shepherdess, and soon found myself knitting. It stuck..so did the sheep! From there, I moved to spinning, felting, sewing and finally embroidery, all of which I still do and enjoy immensely. But knitting…well knitting somehow manages to stay at the forefront, of all craft I do. It goes anywhere and can be crafted any place, across the borders, on planes, on the trail, in the canoe, and in my case a lot of times, next to the stream or pool that my husband has found to fish.
While it can be a bit fiddly, depending on the project, hauling out my wool does not have plague me with certain mishap as, say, my embroidery. I know I need not go on about the attributes of wool here, but for a cowgirl knitter like myself, I love the resilience and ease of care that wool can afford…even when it is dropped in Chamberlain Lake.
I know I am a bit biased but when I think about packing my embroidery and taking it on a canoe trip in to Northern Maine’s Allagash Waterway…yeesh, little needles, bits of thread, scissors..dirt, ash, rain, these things challenge me. But throw in my pack a set of needles and some wool, it feels reasonable and natural to have accompany the fireside evening. I am not inclined to pack roving or top, a drop spindle or my spinning wheel for that matter. I like the portability of a project on needles which can be bound in some plastic or linen bag and be ready to go, hauled out anywhere and, really, in my experience only be that much more enhanced by journey.
The beauty of this affirmation is we do not have to agree. Wildcraft is all in the management of our supplies and our tools. It is the landscape we choose to craft in and our own definition of wildscape. Sometimes I find my wildscape on my couch with black bears watching me from the French doors, most of the time though my wildscape means packs, skis, canoes and no running water. Whatever your wildscape, whatever your wildcraft, be wild, find wildness…and craft away.