David Barton talks about the curious creative relationship between bakers and knitters, baking and knitting, and how it all ties together with a pinch of patience and a dash of zesty creativity, just in time for the launch of the Great British Bake Off.
I think I’ve always been a creative person. Even as a fairly small child, I was happy to be given a pile of junk and left to create something out of it. My school reports highlighted my imagination too (imagination, which, according to one teacher, was on the decline in children at the time).
Therefore, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that many of the things I do now are creative. What’s great of course, is that creative pursuits tend to complement each other. My day-to-day work as a private music teacher, composer and piano accompanist has creativity at its heart. Some have said that music offers one of the deepest forms of creativity and self-expression.
As well as playing and teaching music, my creativity is expressed in other ways; for me, mainly through my baking and knitting. I’ve always baked. People often ask me who taught me, but really, I just picked it up myself. I had a very easy children’s cookbook quite early on and can certainly remember making chocolate brownies when I was quite young. Conversely, knitting came much later. My grandmother knitted, and she churned out children’s jumpers for OXFAM at an alarming rate. I could probably claim that knitting is in the blood, though I didn’t come to it until my late 20s.
There are many similarities between baking and knitting (and indeed, music too). In a very amateur way, I thoroughly enjoy both. I like the challenge, whether that be of a new recipe, or a new pattern. We might think that the results are quite different: let’s face it, I wouldn’t want to eat a scarf any more than I’d want to wear a choux bun. The relationship between the two though is very similar, for the result of both is something visual. The colours and pattern of a knitted scarf mirror the piping and decoration of a cake. Just as we choose the desired nozzle for our piping bags, so we choose the required weight and colour of yarn for our needles.
I think everyone is creative. Finding a way to channel and exploit that creativity is, in my view, a fundamental of life. Just as our senses are heightened by the sound of music, so they are too, in different ways, by the touch, sight, smell and taste of baking and knitting.
You can watch the new series of The Great British Bake Off on Wednesdays at 8pm on BBC 1 or on the iPlayer. Ready, Set, Bake!
Based in Lichfield, Staffordshire, David has taught flute, piano and singing on a private basis since 2001. He is a published composer with works in print worldwide. He is in regular demand as a piano accompanist and is currently studying for a PhD in Music Education at the Royal College of Music. Learn more on DavidBartonMusic.co.uk.