Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Product v. Process Knitter

There has been a lot of discussion in the fiber world lately about whether you (as a knitter or crocheter) are a product or a process knitter.  I think I have those terms right...someone correct me if I'm wrong!  

(A general disclaimer:  It doesn't matter which category you find yourself under, or if you fit both.  Neither is better than the other and both have their place.  I find that I am a little of both depending on the time of year and how the mood strikes me.  I don't want anyone to think that I think you should be one or the other or that either is better than the other!!!)

A product knitter (this applies to crochet too, but I'll be using "knitter" since that's what I do most) is someone who likes to crank out as many projects as possible.  They're interested in the end product, and getting to use them or gift them.  They enjoy seeing the finished object and many times, they're making these items for themselves, their family or their friends.  Okay - maybe you don't feel like you need to knit as many things as fast as you can, but you revel in the finished object, the fact that it's completed. You have a specific purpose for this object.  You're likely to continue knitting a pattern even if you don't like it because you want that FO and you're going to beat the pattern, dang it!

A process knitter is someone who likes to learn as many new things as they can.  New techniques, new yarns, new patterns, you name it, they want to try it.  It's not necessarily about how fast you get things done, but rather the process of completing the project.  You may be someone who never keeps anything you make.  Instead, you knit because you enjoy the process of knitting.  It may be soothing, it may be your break in the day.  You relish learning new things and expanding your "knitting toolbox."  You may consider yourself a process knitter because although you keep most of what you knit, you don't always feel it must meet a purpose.  If you don't like a pattern, get frustrated over time, or just lose interest, you're likely to frog what you're working on, or put it in hibernation for a very long time.  You're not likely to knit something you don't enjoy.

Okay - I admit - these are VERY generalized descriptions of product versus process knitters.  And it's my own personal interpretation.  Again, neither is right or wrong, they just are.

I used to view myself as a product knitter.  I wanted something, I knit it.  I needed a gift, I picked a pattern and knit that object.  Even if I struggled or got tired of what I was doing, I kept on keeping on.  Because I wanted that end product.  Everything had a bit of a purpose.  Although I rarely made something just for me, everything had an intended recipient.  I find this was me in my early days of knitting.  I didn't peruse the patterns on Ravelry like I do now.  I never used to get online just to look at pretty yarn and patterns and finished objects of other Ravelers.

So then I thought perhaps I am a process knitter.  I love it when I learn something new.  Especially if it's something that's intimidated me, like intarsia or stranded knitting.  Boy, does colorwork scare me!  Lace knitting was never intimidating, but I avoided complicated patterns.  Now I find it a test of what I'm made of.  If I can tackle a lace pattern, I can do anything!  When a project is finished, I delight in that project, partly because I remember how much I enjoyed seeing the piece come to life.  I like to take photos and put the items on display for people to ooh and ahh over (who doesn't like to hear others compliment your work?!).  But it's not why I knit.  I think that's one reason I've started to struggle when finding a new pattern or project.  The feel of the knitting has to be just so for the moment.

And I'll be the first to admit that I get caught up in finishing things quickly.  I give myself deadlines, or have hard deadlines I can't miss.  So then it's a race with the clock.  It's easy to lose focus on how much I enjoy the actual knitting and how soothing it is for me to sit in the evenings, while watching tv, hearing and feeling the needles click in my hands.  If my hands are empty, I feel a bit unbalanced.  I'm trying to remember to slow down and enjoy what I'm making.  We put a lot of ourselves into our work. Although I don't really adhere to the idea of bad karma, etc. I don't think that a project knit in a big rush or a pattern you really hate can be sent off with as much love and excitement as that project that maybe languished on your needles a bit longer, but had copious amounts of love and attention knit into it.

So overall, what am I?  A hybrid of sorts.  Overall, I think I'm a process knitter.  I want to expand my horizons.  But those quick, easy, 1-2-3-off-the-needles items give me just as much joy!  At the end of the year, I'll count up the number of projects I've completed and pat myself on the back, congratulating myself for all I've learned.

Now it's your turn, readers.  Do you adhere to one type or the other?  Or do you find yourself a mix of both?  Does it bother you trying to label yourself one way or the other?


  1. I'm a mix of both I think. I used to knit gifts all the time but I did enjoy the process of trying out new stitch patterns and patterns. If I don't like a pattern, I probably wouldn't use it again though.

  2. To be honest, I'm a mixture of both. I like knitting something and finishing it, so it can be gifted, but if it's too easy, I don't finish it because I'm bored with it. So, that leads me to looking for patterns to try out a one or two new skills, but then I sometimes run into the opposite problem, I don't finish it because it's too hard. Which is why I often have a few projects on the needles, so I can go back and forth.

    I saw you lived in Iowa. I lived there (Southeastern Iowa) from 1985-2004. I have MANY happy memories there and friends I still keep in touch with.