I’ve so far avoided making this a Q for You because I feel like it’s such a stock question, and also because my own answer is always changing! But I’ve been thinking a lot about it the last couple of weeks, both during and since knitting the Flex tee. So let’s talk about this notion of being a “process knitter” versus a “product knitter.”
To offer some semblance of a definition, I think a true, pure “process knitter” is someone who just loves to knit and wants to be knitting, and what they’re knitting isn’t of much concern. As long as they’re knitting, they’re happy. And a pure “product knitter” doesn’t necessarily love the act of knitting but the loves the end result, and will do what it takes to get that. As with most of these things, we really all fall somewhere along the continuum between the two.
For a long time I felt I was closer to the product knitter end of it. I love to knit, and do love it best when I’m loving the knitting itself (meaning the yarn and needles are giving me the happy feelings, and all that). But if I don’t desperately want the end product to exist in the world, I won’t pick up the knitting. What motivates me most is the outcome — I won’t knit just for the sake of knitting.
But it’s also true (maybe increasingly so) that I won’t knit just as a means to an end. If I’m not enjoying the yarn and the needles and the flow of a project, I’m equally at risk of letting it lie around unfinished, no matter how much I might want the end product. So it really has to be both for me, which I guess puts me at the dead center of the continuum?
Flex is a great example. I’ve loved the look of that little tee since the day the pattern first published. I have another sweater I knitted out of Kestrel, and I love the fabric, but it’s not the most pleasurable yarn to knit with, being aran-weight chainette linen. It’s a little like knitting with straw or something — not unpleasant, by any means, but not the sort of thing that gets your senses humming. Then there’s the knitting itself. The pattern is really unusual in its construction and completely brilliant. I can’t even understand how she worked out the details of the process (and graded it!), and I have so much admiration for the whole thing. But because of the way it’s built, it’s kind of an awkward, flappy thing to have on the needles. (This might be less true if done with a nice lofty wool/blend.) On top of which, it was missing my whole favorite part of the process. If I’m not inventing or reinventing anything — inserting myself into the creative process in some way — it just feels like manufacturing to me, and not nearly as gratifying. In this case, between the uniqueness of the construction and the fact that the schematic measurements don’t line up with the pattern numbers in any meaningful way, modifications weren’t really an option. All I could do is knit it as written. In short, it’s an amazing pattern and a darling sweater and fantastic finished fabric, but there was no particular thrill in the knitting of it for me, so it’s nothing short of a miracle that it got finished.
(Thus I don’t feel compelled to repeat it. That’s all I meant yesterday. I’m happy there are so many of you who loved every minute of knitting Flex!)
Once that was on the blocking board, I picked up my improvised cardigan in progress, and was instantly bathed in serotonin and delight. Having that fabric and yarn running through my hands felt like petting a baby kitten, and I was all like “OMIGOD I LOOOOOOVE KNITTING!” So that’s my Q for You today: Are you more of a process knitter or a product knitter?
SHOP NEWS: As promised, additional copies of KnitWit magazine have arrived, for those of you who missed it, and we’re awaiting delivery of Carrie Hoge’s stunning new biannual magazine, Making, which is an absolute treasure trove. It’s in transit so I’ve gone ahead and made it available for preorder. And we also still have copies of the fabulous summer Pom Pom, so check out the magazine rack today, for sure. AND! We have the most awesome new addition to the matte black mini-scissors, the Owl scissors, which I am head over heels in love with — they’re the perfect size and they make me laugh — so check those out too. All that and more, of course, can be found at Fringe Supply Co.
PREVIOUSLY in Q for YOU: What do you modify?