Monday, June 26, 2006

Process vs Product

Annie left me a comment (about how "productive" a knitter I was) which set me to thinking.

There's been quite a lot of discussion on the various knitting lists (I can't believe it was on the KnitLost, but it was) about the question "Are you are product knitter or a process knitter?"

I've always thought of myself as a process knitter but I do seem to end up with a large number of finished products, so perhaps we are asking the wrong question.

What then are the key identifiers of the process knitter?

- not terribly interested in the finished product I certainly qualify here - while I usually do finish projects, I often wear them once, or not at all, or give them away;

- happy to frog/tink to get it right (even if no-one knows it's "wrong"). Again, I'm in - I do like to get it "right".

- always messing about with needles and yarn, unable to answer the question, "What are you knitting?", because not actually knitting anything, just playing - can I shape this with short rows? Can I make this lace pattern work? How many decreases do I have to do to make this curve lie flat? Will this border curl if I use this stitch? and this one? I'm the world's worst - there's always some few stitches on a needle sticking out of the knitting basket, often in a truly horrendous colour/yarn (I often wonder if I am struck with colour blindness combined with a complete lack of good taste when I enter a yarn shop - purple eyelash? white ack-rylic with pink bobbles? doggy doo-doo coloured stuff?)

- often chooses a project because it uses a new (to this knitter) technique/intriguing shaping/special finishing/never-before-used yarn, even. Case in point the Silk Corset from Annie Modesitt - loved the design and construction, have worn it once;

and the product knitter?

- wants to knit an item which contains a new technique - sets out to learn the technique;

- often knits the same pattern, again and again. The classic socks; the plain raglan/yoke pullover/cardigan; the hats (often for charity); same shawl; same baby blanket. I'm not denigrating this in any way but it's just not for me - I hate knitting the same pattern twice. I did it with both Birch and Frost and Ice and it's testament to the skill of Sharon Miller, the designer of both, that I didn't end up slitting my wrists;

- almost always finishes a project, and, I suspect, is a one-project-at-a-time sort of knitter. Well, we all know this isn't me;

I don't really like the either/or dichotomy inherent in the original question. I don't think I'm an either/or. I think I'm mostly a process knitter but partly a product knitter and that the proportions of each change all the time - from project to project, often within the same project.

There was also some mention of the process knitter being considered (or considering herself) to have more value - to be more of a "craftsman". I think that's a load of solid spheres. People knit for all sorts of reasons and no reason is more "valid" or has more intrinsic worth than the next one.

You knit because it helps you not smoke/eat/bite your nails/yell at your nearest and worst? Good for you.

You knit because you want to clothe yourself/your nearest and best in something that you made yourself? Good for you.

You knit because you can? Good for you.

You knit because, like Everest, it's there? Good for you.

You knit because it makes you feel connected to all those women of the past - knitting in the dark; by the light of a candle or lamp; on the plains; in the highlands; on the fells; in your country and in others; the quick ones and the slow ones; the ones who hated it but had to do it; the ones who loved it; and the ones who did it for love.

I've knitted for all these reasons in the past (and no doubt will in the future, too) and there's nothing wrong with that.

Knit on, ladies. (Don't be offended if you are a knitting man - you're a knitter, that's what counts.)

Apologies for a photo-less post. Two reasons - everything looks very much as it did before but a bit bigger/longer and Blogger is playing up. I am getting increasingly ticked off with Blogger and its temperamental hissy fits. I hope you can now see the picture of Beelzebub from my last post - the sequence went: delete picture;(upload picture, check picture, look at lack of picture,delete picture) three times; throw in towel.

Bah, humbug!


littlelixie said...

I hate to think what kind of label my knitting habits would entitle me too! You're a fabulous knitter and it makes you happy - that's what matters!

Mary-Lou said...

Think I'm mainly a process knitter, though I seem to have been doing a lot of product knitting this summer, thanks to KnitYoga's charity craft stall ...

On the subject of Blogger, have to admit I threw in the towel with them finally after not being able to post pictures for over a week, but I pass on this tip from Woolly Wormhead in case it helps:

"on the post edit page, with your blog post open, go into 'tools', click on internet options, then click to delete temporary internet files (i.e. deleting cookies for that page) - worked a treat for me after a whole day of trying to upload! Gotta do it when the post is being edited, though."

Gill said...

I was interested to read your thoughts on process v product, and certainly agree that whatever makes you happy is the key! I noticed that you had knitted the Annie Modesitt corset - how did it look when finished? I have almost finished knitting it in Cathay, but was disappointed to hear that you had only worn it once!

DianeM said...

I am definitely process according to your description - I hate knitting anything twice, even have trouble not yawning over the second sock. I think this is why I like small things and making up my own patterns. My mum is the same - she is constantly frustrated with the spinning group she is secretary of because all the ladies just endlessly spin 8-ply wool and aren't interested in new ideas and techniques.

allisonmariecat said...

Very nice summary of process v. product! I'm with you--I knit at different times with different purposes.

I am "grabbed" by interesting new patterns and/or yarns, but I've also knit several of the same baby sweater pattern because it's so darn cute and functional. I have the pattern and yarn for the Annie Modesitt corset, but I'm afraid I'll also only wear it once. Yet, the pattern calls to me...

I also am both a coffee person AND a tea person :)