Product VS Process

Yesterday, as I was finishing Sam’s hat (after reclaiming mine) I was thinking that I hadn’t enjoyed knitting it all that much. I didn’t dislike it (how could you not like knitting?) but it wasn’t the ten buckets of fun that knitting usually is – especially when you’re making something someone will love and wants badly.

samhaton 2015-01-21

Sam does, indeed love her new hat, and wore it out this morning, cozy against the windy cold.  (Pattern: Wurm, Yarn: Eco+ in Dark Purple – I think. Needle 3.5 and 4.5mm. Knit as written, except for only doing 8 repeats. We like our Wurms a little less wormy round here.)

samhatpeek 2015-01-21

After she left, I sat down to have a coffee and a bit of a knit, and pulled out the sweater I’ve had cruising along in the background. (This one.)  It’s going fine, though it’s now just rounds and rounds of stockinette, and I felt that same… something.  I love that yarn, and heaven knows I want the sweater – now, actually, it’s so dismally cold, and usually that’s enough to inspire, but this time, I’m not feeling it. As I was churning along, my thoughts turned to the idea of knitting for product (to get the knitted stuff) and knitting for process – because I love knitting alone.  Usually I’m someone who fails to land firmly in either camp. I knit for both. To get good stuff, and for the pure pleasure of it. I don’t know if I would be arsed to knit if there wasn’t the thrill of a finished thing at the end, and I don’t know that the things alone would be enough to make knitting worth it. (I have a secret theory that liking and needing knitting to be both for product and process spawns the most dedicated knitters – those of us who couldn’t stop if we wanted to, but it’s just an idea.)

It hit me, as I was beavering away that it’s been a little while since something was on my needles for nothing but pleasure. That the last few months have been – what with Christmas and all that, all about the product.  A string of needed, wanted, important things, but still the goal was to end up with the things… not to just be along for the ride. I thought about that some more, as I completed another round, and then I looked around me, saw my spinning wheel, and something gave way.

I’ve been hearing the siren song of my spinning stash for a while – if you can call the smothered gasps of way too much fibre a song. I put down the sweater, went up to the spinning stash, and grabbed the first thing that appealed.

intowhirledbatt 2015-01-21

I’m going to spin for a bit. I don’t even know what I’m making, but i know that the minute that whatever sort of yarn this batt becomes, it’s going on my needles moments later. I’m going to think about process, the process of spinning, the process of knitting, and I’ll just see what product I get at the end.

Doesn’t that sound delicious?

(PS. The Batt is from Into the Whirled – though I don’t see any on their website right now.)

105 thoughts on “Product VS Process

  1. I am definitely a both process and product knitter. Neither of them are enough for me, but give me a clever pattern and a finished item and BAM, I am sucked back in.

    Whenever I get in a knitting rut, I tend to find the best yarn I have in the stash, the perfect pattern (and it has to be technically challenging), and it has to be pretty or really functional at the end, and BAM. No more knitting rut.

    Who knows, I’m also a redhead. This could also be a crazy ginger thing. <3

  2. Both for me, too, though I can’t justify the cost of the yarn for a pretty item that no one will actually wear. If I had a budget to equal the stash I’d *like* to have, the process knitter in me would be wildly happy.

    (And the CAPTCHA) has me thinking “Touch not the cat . . . “)

  3. That picture of Sam in the hat is just fantastic.

    My mother was a fantastic knitter, but absolutely could not stomach yards and yards of stockinette. When we were little, no garment had that much plain knitting, because they were small. When we got older – well, if it didn’t have something to make it interesting, forget it. I think the last plain knitting piece she did for me was a poncho, and while largely stockinette, there were stripes and colored borders.

    She absolutely loved this insane fisherman’s sweater, with cables, and bobbles, and one panel was a 40-row repeat, and another was 20, and so on. You get the idea. She made two of them – one for me and one for my sister.

    • My thoughts exactly! Wednesdays are for spinning for me and for lots of us here in the San Diego area because that’s when class is, but we’ve missed Stephanie’s “Tuesdays Are for Spinning” posts!

  4. Like most of the knitters who commented I too am a process/product knitter. However beside Christmas knitting I am starting my 5th baby sweater of the last 6 months! Now normally I enjoy knitting baby sweaters, however the shower (for twins) is in less than 3 weeks which doesn’t sound too tough by itself. However when you figure in a 60 hour work week, trying to hit the gym 3X a week and life in general, I’m a little freaked out. This will definitely be a sprint, product knit! Last weekend I spent 6 hours at WEBS, and I can’t wait to start to knit for me again.

  5. I think I’ll forever be most heavily in the process camp but I’ve been trying really hard to find a product for self-knitting that makes me happy recently. I didn’t do much Christmas knitting but I’m kind of burnt out on knitting for others. Hoping that mojo comes back..

  6. I think I’m mostly product…. knitting relaxes me, but if the thing at the end didn’t have a purpose I’d be pretty “meh” about it.
    LOVE Sam’s hat!!

  7. I really like your hat brim on Wurm. Nicely done!
    I feel myself, as you do, in the “both” camps of process vs. product debate. And, now I’m heading into a product, product, product three months. Let’s see where I’m at when this wild ride stops! I may be with you in the whirled fiber!

  8. She’s beautiful, and that handknitted love on her head only makes the effect more so.

    Meantime, you just nailed it for me–I’ve been knitting for months to have certain things for certain people but not knitting for the sheer personal pleasure of creating for its own sake. It’s been harder to get to it of late. I know exactly which yarn in my stash would take care of that in a heartbeat, as soon as I finish the last of this mandatory-feeling stuff.

  9. Lovely girl wearing lovely hat from kind and generous mum. That’s all kinds of perfect. 🙂
    And please count me in on both. Monday I was looking at my (large) basket of UFO’s and analyzing why they are UFO’s and it was basically because each of them is lacking in holding my attention on one (or both) counts. I see some frogging and rewinding in my future.

  10. LOVE the hat, and what a lovely model. I knit for both, but I have been hankering to choose something for ME. Spinning is not my thing (yet), but I have been considering getting a loom…. And casting on a sweater for myself, before winter abandons the icy hold it has on us.

  11. I love this. Since I started spinning, it’s put a whole new “spin” on the process vs. product conversation for me. I rarely buy yarn just because, and then figure out what to make out of it. But the spinning is a process pleasure unto itself, and then figuring out what will showcase that beautiful product I made is another pleasure. I think after something like 8 pairs of socks, interrupted only by baby gift knitting, I’m looking to my wheel more than a new knitting project for myself….

  12. I am just leaving a conference on Colonial Woodworking (with 18th c. hand tools). One of the speakers broke my heart when he said, “The joy of doing this vanished for me when I stopped working on spec and started taking commissions.” I can understand what he is saying, and I bet you can too.

  13. I understand and have been feeling the doldrums lately too. Last night I pulled out a colorwork kit I bought several years ago. I cast on, but shall see if it helps. Good luck.

  14. After all the Christmas knitting I wanted something that took longer than a week to finish and nobody was waiting for so I cast on INKY, a fingering weight oversized dress. I’m sure other projects will come and go while I am working on it but I look forward to having it waiting for me.

  15. Sam looks gorgeous, the hat is gorgeous, and the the two of them combined? Stunning! Well done (with both of them)!!!

    If spinning doesn’t get your spirit up, try knitting and/or spinning in light spring colors. The hat is dark, the sweater is dark, the outdoors dark most of the time… Did anyone say cabin fever? Maybe a bike ride in daylight would help too…

    Cheers from even darker Copenhagen…

  16. I love the hat colour you picked, Sam’s eyes are stunning and that really brings it out.
    I know what you mean about loving knitting but wanting the stuff it makes too. I’m normally a super-practical person and only buy yarn for things that are both interesting and delightfully practical. However I have something on my needles at the moment that’s just for fun and am loving it.

  17. I understand completely! I’ve never been able to decide if I’m a process or product knitter…
    After the Christmas knitting rush (this year I will start sooner) all I want is to knit gorgeous yarn in interesting patterns, mostly fair isle.
    But, when I get bored with an item, I just take out some leftover yarn that I loved working with and try out new stitches and techniques, just for the fun of it!
    It sort of removes the cobwebs from my knitting mojo! 😉

  18. Yes – do it! I had a similar experience with October-December, as I do shows, and I had my one BIG show in November, and then it was straight into Christmas knitting. So I promised myself that January was the month to do whatever the heck I want. And so that meant that I’ve cast on a couple sweaters…But I’ve also gotten podcasting and a shop update done.

    On a similar note, I’m both a process & product knitter – I need the end product to make the knitting “worth it” – but I wouldn’t want to get to the end product any other way besides knitting!

    Have a fun with your spinning (the fibre is GORGEOUS)!

    Katie =^..^=

  19. What a gorgeous hat! I am finding that there is a line between ‘knitting’ as a creative process (which I love) and knitting because you just HAVE to have one thing done. I have been feeling that for the last month, knitting for Christmas or just knitting for all the kids in the family (it would not be fair if not every one got something). Sometimes, doing the same thing (like a hat, regardless of how different the hats are) over and over again becomes a chore, or the process becomes repetitive (I almost wrote ‘numbminding’, but I do not think it goes to that extreme). But then, I find something different to make, or I have an idea, and the creative side of thing comes back, along with the pleasure of doing something new.

  20. Great hat for a lovely girl. My resistance towards Wurm is crumbling, but I’ve got one big push on a birthday vest for my father before I get to it.
    Like others, I sit in both camps. I adore the act of knitting–the physicality, the sensory joy of great yarn/tools–and of course the products yielded. Time well-spent encapsulated in wool, a gift or something for me, gives a deep sense of satisfaction.

    With the Giftmas knitting, a couple of commissions, and now the January birthday squad (3 within a week!) all knit up–I am feeling like it’s time to settle in and make something for me. Finish a “first” cardigan, tackle colourwork or try my paws at designing.
    Something new calls, which could be a new project, playing with a spindle, or dreaming over my garden. First year in a new place where I can plant in the earth rather than pots!

    Nothing but joy to you and yours!

  21. ” those of us who couldn’t stop if we wanted to” – oh, yes. Except I’ve had to, HOPEFULLY temporarily. Chronic wrist/forearm tendonitis. It’s very boring. Reading about your knitting is a good distraction though!

    • Oh you poor thing. Have you found out about ice-dipping? There’s a great forum on ravelry ‘crafting with carpal tunnel’; it fixed the tendon issues in my finger and meant I didn’t have to have surgery. *hugs*

  22. That hat looks just gorgeous on Sam—really pretty!
    I am in the same place as you and some others—sort of bored with my UFO’s—I want something fun and pretty and exciting–I was thinking a gradient yarn shawl—I actually wanted to do one of the self striping ones that you did with the Catapillar yarn but they are sold out—-

  23. Bullet points for my comment, since I’ve got totally unrelated stuff to say:

    * I’m very much a process knitter. Maybe that’s why I never seem to actually finish something!

    * You actually got your hat back from Sam? That’s impressive! I figured you’d be out two hats when you finished her wurm.

    * You really have the most photogenic daughters – they’re all so very gorgeous in every picture you ever post of them.

  24. Everyone gets in a knitting funk once in a while.

    That purple is absolutely gorgeous on Sam and really brings out her eyes.

  25. This is why I nearly always have at least two projects on the go.
    One for product, with lace or beads or cables or all of that and it will be stunning but every row needs attention paid.
    And one for process, that needs almost no attention paying and just lets my fingers twiddle while my brain deals with other things – a plain sock, a basic hat, a dishcloth.

    Spinning? Spinning is not something I do well enough to plan yet. I just play with the wheel and then see what I made. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but it’s fun.

  26. Interesting thought…. I like the product, but getting there must be enjoyable. I don’t think I can go all one way or the other.
    Lovely hat btw.

  27. I’m one of the knitters with a foot in each camp: process and product. However, I enjoy the process a bit more than the product, so I tend to be a slow(ish?) knitter. This means I’ll start something that was meant for a holiday gift, and they’re going to get it some time in March. If they’re lucky enough I don’t get hit wth startitis immediately after the holidays to give myself a bit of knitting fun.

  28. Sam is the most lovely model. She (or you) should submit a portfolio to Brooklyn Tweed or Interweave or Twist Collective or the like. I’d love to see her in one or more of those publications!

    PS – The hat is great too 🙂

  29. Like you, I’m a process + product knitter. Like you, I can’t cope with inches and inches of stocking stitch, unless maybe I have a totally gripping audiobook to keep me going. Men’s sweaters are a big problem. They like boring; knitters like interesting.( I think I came up with a solution for that one with my son’s Modern Gansey, which so far is only on my blog, not on Ravelry). The bottom line though, is that knitting is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, why do it? Enjoy your spinning. We’re all holding our breath to see what you end up with.
    P.S. Sam is the BEST hat model!

  30. I think it is great you have spinning, as a (still-fibery) break from knitting. The hat by the way is very pretty!
    I don’t know anyone who is all process or all product, but I’m sure there are some out there. I personally like both!

  31. Oh yes, exactly! Process AND product. I, too, have been knitting forever (well, okay, a couple months) exclusively on projects that had to be done for Christmas (which, in their defense, I chose to saddle myself with) and now an Aran sweater on commission (don’t ask – I’m not quite sure how I ended up saying I’d do it) Lately, the joy and pleasure is just not all there. I know this has happened in previous years, but usually by now I’ve gotten over it and am happily diving into non-deadline knitting. Soon, soon…

  32. Ooh, what a great batt! That’s going to produce some cool yarn. Also, it is January, and while that sweater will be warm, it’s very dark. Don’t forget to play with colour!

    P.S. I think I’m mostly a process knitter, but I do love a good ending.

    • I completely forgot to mention that I’m making a very similar hat. It’s a different pattern, same idea. And yes, it’s taking me longer than I thought it would be because 1) I always overestimate my speed and 2) the knit rounds get sort of eaten, so they don’t really count towards the finished length.

  33. In our fast-speed instant-button world, knitting teaches me to enjoy the moment. The process is where actually a real life happens. It’s the journey, not the destination.

  34. Steph! I did exactly that right after Christmas…right after the flu and not feeling well. I went upstairs into the freezing cold attic and got out wads and yards of roving from Rhinebeck 2013 and sat at my wheel and began to spin. I spun and plyed for a week straight. Just got the new born yarn washed and dried.
    Am not done yet. There is more roving waiting. Got out my hand dyed indigo yarn that still needed a wash and it is dry and skeined ready for…..what ever I want!!
    I know that feeling. Just gotta do something you want for a change!

  35. I was just having this conversation with a knitter the other day. She can take forever knitting a complicated pattern because she just loves the knitting. I always start a project – of whatever size, the more complicated pattern the better – with just the anticipation of enjoying the process, but inevitably – at some point – I just have to get it Done. Suddenly it becomes a commitment that I can’t put down until it is finished. Hm! I also love the hat – I have been looking for something like that, and there it is! Thank you! It looks great on Sam – nice color and style!

  36. I have been antsy to spin for awhile as well, and will just as soon as the current WIP knitting is done. As they are socks for a friend facing breast cancer, they are important to finish before her upcoming surgery. But after that? I’ve diving into my fiber stash, too!

  37. I am similar to you in the department of “product and process” I love to knit and I find it interesting that while reading your post today I found myself relating to how you are feeling about knitting and have been eying my spinning wheel as well so I laughed some over the similarity to so many knitters. I like reading the replies almost as much as I like reading your posts.

    I get inspired from reading past posts on your blog. I am starting “Northman Mittens” for myself and my husband because I was reading some of your early posts. So as soon as I finish one of the projects that I have been putting on hold for too many years I will be casting on for mittens.

    I am forcing myself to complete several U.F.O.’s before I start anything new. I have too many to feel good about myself right now. So as soon as I complete some of those pesky U.F.O.’s and find my “spark” for knitting I will be casting on for those mittens as well as a couple of other projects that I purchased yarn for recently. The mittens look so warm and I am still cutting my teeth on stranded color-work and these mittens have color-work as well as a liner. So if you have any tips on mittens I would love to hear them. I found the “Northman Mittens” pattern on Raverly. I love going there to connect and get ideas.

    Have a lovely rest of the week and a productive and magical weekend. I find that there is magic in knitting.

  38. Lovely hat, lovely girl.
    Wurm has been in my Ravelry queue for 2 years now. Perhaps this is the inspiration I’ve been waiting for.
    Question though:
    The pattern calls for sport weight yarn, but the Webs link to the Eco+ says it’s a bulky weight yarn. That’s quite a difference in gauge, how did you make it work?
    Sorry if you’ve answered this in another comment, I admit I didn’t scroll through them all.

      • Sure it can. You just use smaller needles than usually used for Eco+. I’ve just started a Wurm in Aracania Tepa, which is also a bulky weight. On the label the gauge is 15 st/4 inches on 6mm needles. But I’m using 4/5mm needles for my Wurm, and knitting a small (CO 90) for my big head, instead of the suggested CO 110.

  39. One of the month’s challenges in Ravelry’s Cold Sheep thread is “selfish” knitting — making something for yourself this month. If my mojo were missing in action, I think I’d cast on something smallish, warm and VERY colorful (the forecast here is for 50 shades of gray skies) just for me. Spinning gorgeous fibers also should work.

  40. I am both product and process, and not just when it comes to knitting but in all things. Everything I do in my life must serve a purpose, there has to be a reason for doing things. Something beyond jusy finishing it, even if I at times have to sort of make up a reason just to keep myself motivated.

    • Wanted to add: sometimes the process is the motivating factor (ie learning something new) but most times it is the finished product/end result (get to wear a new hat). Most times it is both that I need.

  41. I think of myself as a “Progress” knitter. I like to see things moving and not stay stuck in one place too long. That is a gorgeous bump. I’m saving for my first wheel this year and am about half way there. This inspired me to beg on the street corner for more change for my piggy bank. Be right back… 😉

  42. That’s my problem! I’ve been knitting for presents and I haven’t been spinning. I’ve felt like I was in a rut with knitting and I think you just hit the nail on the head as to why I’ve been in that rut. Thank you so much! Now I’m off to the stash to find something pretty to spin!!! Oh, and I definitely lean to the finished product side of knitting.

  43. What an adorable knitwear model, she looks cute and toasty warm! I’ve been wanting to knit this hat for myself and I think I’m going to do just that!

  44. I love that hat pattern and have made a few myself! And that colour looks so nice on her! maybe I need to make another one of those too!

  45. First, Sam is beautiful, but you know that. My favorite yarn is the Eco Duo, yum! I need to try the one you used soon. Happy spinning!

  46. I can so identify as to where you have been with your knitting. I don’t knit as many Christmas presents, but I still have an afghan to finish. And the younger women I know are all popping out babies at an alarming rate…

  47. Not an original thought, but: if everyone you knit for looks that fantastic in the finished product AND looked that thrilled to be wearing it, you would never be able to turn away from a knitting request again…I mean, that’s assuming you can now?! =)

  48. Pingback: Pow! Whap! Sneak attack… | into the whirled

  49. I totally and completely agree! I, too, and both a product and process knitter and churn out a decent stack of FOs every year —- but I almost never make the same thing twice, because I really dig the process. The trial and error. The experimenting. The trying to match up yarn / needles / pattern.
    And I also felt a bit of holiday burn-out. Once the deadline knitting was done I felt a bit adrift and pulled out my wheel for a bit of a spin. The first bobbin was not very good, as I was rushing it and didn’t take the time to really enjoy the process. The second bobbin, though, was pure bliss.
    Go with what feels right!

  50. Just got home from my therapy appointment. Discussed this exact topic: Balance (or lack thereof) between enjoyment and commitment to outcome. Turns out I was living in a fantasy world where they co-existed. ALL THE TIME. I hate being disillusioned. But reality always wins.

  51. Your comments really resonated with me today. I too don’t fall into either camp. I love the process of knitting: the feel, the smell of the yarn, the motion of my hands, the calming effect. But I love to have a ‘thing’ when it’s all over. No matter if I keep it or gift it, an actual ‘something’ is a thrill. Glad I’m not the only one.

  52. Both Sam and the hat are beautiful!

    I made a Wurm (or similar pattern) and really liked it. I need to look; I think I gave it away.

    I’ve seen Wurm made with two alternating colors, which is spectacular too.

  53. Beautiful hat and lovely daughter.
    I just had to tell you I just finished your book, All Wound Up, and greatly enjoyed every single essay.
    Thanks for making such a difference with your writing and your knitting. 🙂

  54. Process enjoyment, during the knitting phase; product enjoyment, during the wearing or gifting phase. That is me! For me it does not have to be “or” but will forever be “and”.

    Cheers for the process of spinning.

  55. I’ve knit three Wurms – two of them in alternating colours. I feel the same – the product was great but it wasn’t an inspiring knit and was a little frustrating with the way the rolls happened – it made it a little tricky to get those stitches sliding smoothly. The pattern is well written and the results are striking, but I think I’d have to be begged to knit it again…

  56. Great hat! Great Pic — Sam looks stunning!
    I am a process girl mostly by force. I have yet to finish my first %^$# sock! So it is a good thing I am enjoying the process.
    On another note, my daughter was watching a cartoon where the grandparents knit the kids a playground. She turned to me with big blue eyes wide and said “Can you make that for me mom?”

  57. I am a process knitter. There must be something interesting in the design to make knitting worthwhile, and I have been known to knit complete projects not planning to wear it myself and not having a daughter willing to wear it either. I have a very nice arrangement knitting samples for my LYS.

    However, every once in a while I Need something. Right now, I Need an Envelope Hat, which essentially involves knitting a 7″x43″ rib and stockinette scarf, then folding it and making one little seam and voila — a hat which I plan to wear. I desperately want this hat. However, with the knitting close to half done, I realize that, if it weren’t for the fact that I am knitting with a marvelous silk and merino blend, something I like to touch, it would join my pile of UFOs. Sad statement, but true.

    So I guess that’s the solution — if I’m knitting a project, I have to also like the way it feels as I pull the thread through my fingers. And that brings me back to the original assertion that I am a process knitter, and that any given project must have either 1) yarn worth touching or 2) a pattern that will be interesting.

  58. Gee, Sam is just stunning. I thought perhaps your bike was going to be positioned in some Rube Goldberg manner whereby your riding would produce something wooly. Heavens, that would be the ultimate ‘product’ focus. Well, bike in the kitchen still sounds brilliant.

  59. As per usual, Sam is a very fetching model. I love the gleefulness in the second pic, too cute.

    Nice hat! “Non-phallic”, lol.

  60. Loved this post because it made me realize I’ve been feeling similarly. I knit so much for Christmas presents and lately I’ve been floundering around, trying to finish one thing or another, and figure out what I wanted to knit for ME. I still haven’t figured it out but maybe this will be my motivation! Sam’s hat looks GREAT on her. Great color.

  61. I’ve knit the Wurm hat for a friend before, and now your pictures make me want to make one for yourself! Your daughter is gorgeous in that purple (and in general too)

  62. I love the hat. There is a great scarf pattern on Ravelry that would go beautifully with that hat called Meadowlark Wrap. I’m sure Sam would love it. 🙂

  63. I’ve never thought of it as process v. product, but the feelings you expressed are similar to my own and the reason I decided not to set any goals for my knitting and spinning in 2015. I want the spend the year knitting, spinning & weaving what I want, when I want with no deadlines on when something should be finished. I’m not joining any Ravelry challenges to knit X number of an item in X amount of time, or Tour de Fleece, etc. I’m also trying to avoid telling myself I can’t start something until I finish something else, etc. and if that means I end up with 20 WIPs then so be it.

  64. I have been knitting for along time; but cannot understand the instructions that begin (after the band) “fold at purl eound…” is it to make a double band?? And what is “double blending”!! thanks hugs, Julierose

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