Reading Maura’s last lovely post about the joys of yarn potential got me thinking about product knitting vs process knitting. Is the joy in knitting having a beautiful finished object, that’s just as you envisaged it, and that you (or the recipient) will treasure ? Or is it in the act of creating; the meditative nature of knitting; the thrill of learning? Or is both?
So which are we? Product knitters? Or Process knitters? And which are YOU?
I’m a process knitter. I love learning new things and I love the physical act of knitting. It’s not that I don’t love having finished objects, but they’re not the sole motivation. Here’s an example. I finished a lace shawl a couple of years ago. It was the most complicated thing I’d ever knitted, and I was ridiculously, crazily, unrepentantly proud of it. Here it is:
Well, not that long after I’d finished it, my daughter, then aged about 5, was playing with it in the dining room. She laid it out on the floor, and then she put a chair with thin metal legs on top of it. And then she sat on the chair, and tried to pull the shawl up over her knees… You can guess the rest!
I surprised myself by how NOT upset I was: I’d enjoyed knitting it, I’d learnt a lot, and I could live without the shawl. So now I don’t fret too much about how many WIPs I have; I don’t despair if I have to frog something; and I don’t cry when the kids lose or destroy the things I make. I still love me a pretty FO but it’s not the be all and end all!
I’m still so new to knitting that I haven’t quite made up my mind about this, but I probably lean more towards the Product Knitter side. I feel like whether you’re a Process or Product knitter can better be described as which shade of grey are you? Where do you fit on the Process vs Product scale because to some extent we have to be a little bit of both right? (even 5% Product and 95% Process) if you’re as obsessed with knitting as we are, it would seem like that might be the only way you would stick with it for so long. Originally I was a 99% Product knitter. I took up knitting specifically to make myself a pair of gloves (seems innocent enough) but I have slowly transitioned to being about 60% Product and 40% Process. I really enjoy the process of knitting, obviously, and it has gotten a lot more fun as I have become more proficient at it. However, that being said, I LOVE finishing things. I never cast off an item and let it sit around for days (let alone weeks or months) without the ends woven, and I HAVE to get it blocking as soon as the weather permits. Making things out of balls and strings and actually having them be loved and be useful is what it’s about for me. Being able to say I made that, Me! really makes it special.
I have to stick with the fact that I am pretty much in the process knitter group. I remember being in college and my professor of Art, who was married to my professor of Drawing (a whole different story…), spoke frequently at great length about process versus product. Are you creating Art for art’s sake or for Art for the audience? Are you being true to the art and to yourself by making art to sell to someone who asks you to make something specific? As you can imagine, I come to knitting (or quilting or home decor) as an art form. I do it for myself – I am extremely selfish. I only do that which brings me joy, that which feeds my soul. Most of my finished objects are sent out to someone else and I usually don’t know who it will be until the item is finished. Many times, I make something just as an experiment – to see how the pattern works, how a stitch works, how easily I can do it. Then in the middle, the pattern and the yarn start telling me who needs to receive this object. If the object has no home, it stays with me and I look at it with a sense of nostalgia – Wasn’t that fun to make?
Well, I guess my little evil, greedy comes out again. I am so far down the product scale it is scary.
I. Want. The. Thing.
I choose patterns because I think they are pretty/comfy/fun/cute/wearable/useful/gorgeous/popular. I can’t think of even once where I have chosen a pattern to learn a skill… Oh, that is sad. This should have been immediately apparent to anyone who knows me, and how hard it is to give FOs (finished objects) away. Only the truly knitworthy…
I adore the process of knitting but I think ultimately I’m a product girl. Sometimes it’s only knowing what is awaiting me at the end of all the hard work that really keeps me going when I’d rather just stash the item somewhere and forget its very existence. Like Kelly, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a pattern simply to learn a new skill, learning new skills is simply a result of having to have that particular item. Now.
What can I say, I’m a little bit of a material girl! (see what I did there? Ahem)