Knitting PhD: a reflection on choosing

As I get older, I can't help but notice the same phenemonon in every aspect of life: the PhD effect.


Pretty cotton bags
What is a PhD? My friend MaryAnn told me, when she got her PhD in Psychology, that PhD means "piled higher, deeper." So true. It seems that most areas of life equate success with PhD effort. You are supposed to choose one thing and get to know it in depth. Become an expert. Become the "go-to" person for that particular thing.
Go-to Gigolo: the expert
I flirted with the idea of getting a PhD in Sociology for many years, but never could commit 7 years to studying one particular thing: rural developmental Sociology in India, for example. It might be great fun, but why spend 7 years on one topic when the world is so full of fascinating topics?

This PhD idea is also creeping into my knitting. For the past few years, I've been knitting in a light-hearted fashion, jumping from Fair Isle hats to cabled vests, from bulky scarves knit sideways in stripes to little purses knit in cotton yarns. Everything has been an experiment. I've had a ball!

Red cotton baby cable hat

But recently I've been noticing that the people who get the accolades and the steady jobs are people who've specialized in one thing, and become better and better at that one thing, till they've reached near-perfection. I just spent an hour or so on Ravelry, un-joining some groups I had joined in some mad euphoria of discovery, thinking that I'd get back to the group and become a contributing member. But my groups, like everything else I've done, are all over the map, and that can't be good.
Maybe it's the "getting older" part that's got me thinking. I have always been a late bloomer, a decade or so behind my age cohort in making big decisions and commitments. So many interesting options in life! Be a professor, or a lawyer, or an investment banker, or an interior designer. And don't forget, be a singer, an actress, a writer, an editor, or a journalist. Maybe a stay-at-home wife, or an entepreneur, or work for the CIA as an analyst. And how about a knitting designer (my latest attempt). I have considered enough careers to happily employ 3 dozen people.

Can I be the next EZ?
So here is my dilemma, my crossroads decision, my turning point, my midlife crisis (about 2 decades late, which is about right for me). What do I do with the rest of my life? Can I get away with never making one big "this is what I do" commitment, or must I bow my head and choose, for once and for all, what  I will do for my remaining productive years?
What does this all have to do with knitting? Plenty. I see that the people who make it in the knitting world have a trademark and stick to it. Think Kaffee Fassett, the wild color guy: Alice Starmore, the Shetland knitting guru: or EZ herself, with her mathematical patterns.

Alice Starmore design

Every successful (by which I mean either well-known, respected or money-making) knitting professional has a niche or bit of expertise that makes that person stand out. I, on the other hand, have no special thing--I love everything!
At one point I had 11 blogs. Love blogs! So much fun! Each one a bit different! Then my daughter asked me why. I couldn't really answer. So many blogs had become unmanageable, so I closed down a few. (btw, my daughter has her own creative blog: http://myspontaneousself.wordpress.com/. Check it out!)
so... the question remains. Must I get a PhD in something to be recognized? Or can I continue my hapahzard life pattern of chasing wild geese, poking my head down rabbit holes and being continually amazed at the astounding variety of things in the world? to be continued.

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