The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.
Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook,” in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968.
Over the years I’ve tried to keep a journal. I shopped for the perfect blank book. Undated. Smooth paper. Perfect bound in black leather. A bookmark. Or sometimes only a ruled composition book would do. And then choosing the pen. Black ink. Medium point. It must be balanced and smooth and noise-less.
But my efforts were always short-lived. I just got bored, or I realized that my life was just too dull to record, or I lost the pen.
When I started to knit, the itch to start a journal resurfaced. I knit most every day, so I’d have something to write about. But after so many failures this time I used a mass-produced, spiral-bound, dated journal that I get every year from my book club. I used a pen I found in a drawer with a Hilton hotel logo. But something clicked, and I filled the daily entries easily. I tracked the progress of my projects, scribbled ideas for other projects, described yarn purchases, taped in yarn samples and labels. I found my compulsion.
When I started this blog, I knew that it would never replace my journal. For me the satisfaction of holding a pen and making marks on a piece of paper cannot be replaced by the keyboard. My journal is my private space. It has evolved to include more details of my life, but it is the knitting that is the inspiration. But I’m not messing with success; I still use the same journal, but I finally lost that pen.