Friday, January 05, 2007

Knit what you love; love what you knit

Dawn's birthday post has got me thinking today; or rather it has returned me to a thought that pops up over and over again. I'll bet that anyone who reads knit-blogs at all regularly is very familiar with statements like "this is going slowly; I hate moss stitch", or "not going too well, I do not like basketweave". If you are going to 'knit what you love, love what you knit', are you talking about loving the process or the product? Or do you get ultra-picky and only knit garments you adore in stitches you find fun? Just because you're a knitter, does that mean you have to knit all the sweaters you own? Well, that'd be daft. It might happen that way for some people, but it doesn't *have* to. But where do we draw the line between "You'd have to be mad to knit all that [whatever] stitch at such a tiny gauge" and "But I could knit that for myself"? I know some people who seem to knit stuff purely for the joy of knitting; I know two old ladies who give everything they knit to charity. I'm not suggesting they get nothing out of the product, but the process seems to be the main thing, and the product secondary. I know there is at least one very famous blogger out there who has piles of beautiful, beautiful sweaters she has never worn. Personally, I'm at the other extreme. I am inspired to knit by the article that will spring fully formed (humour me here) from my needles at the end of the work. I think that's why I find it so much easier to knit for myself or very dear loved ones. I like to be able to picture the garment on the intended wearer (me) as I go; see how it suits them (me) and how it is enjoyed by them (me) and admired by others (love admiration). I love the process, too (wouldn't do it if I didn't), but the product is the inspiring jump-off point. Why don't we enjoy some knit-processes anyway? (Apart from considerations like 'this yarn is so rough it rubs blisters on my fingers' or 'working at this gauge is physically painful'). Are we just too impatient? Or too easily bored? Too easily distracted, maybe? (You know who you are...) Mary-Lou suggested in a comment a few weeks ago that moss stitch is so much of a bugbear for some people because it grows s--l--o--w--l--y. And it's true - apart from all the extra time taken swinging the yarn between the needles to switch between knit and purl all the time (and let's face it, you have to do that just as much with 1x rib), a moss stitch swatch will be wider and shorter than a stockinette one made with the same yarn, needles, number of stitches and rows etc. etc.1 So are we all *progress* knitters, then? We might like the product; we might love the process; but if we don't see the progress we expect we start to fret? Why would that be?? Surely a slow project gives us even better value for money out of all that expensive, luscious yarn? Are we worried that the rest of the stash will run away if we don't finish this now??? Folks who are knitting a project on a deadline clearly have an easy answer to this one, but I think most of us knit most of our projects on an easy-going timeline, not really tied down at all. Why not just buy a sweater that's in a stitch you don't like knitting? Well, I guess by the time you have seen the picture or visualised your FO, the concept is actually too detailed; too complete for you ever to find anything ready-made that matches it. Plus, some stitches (like basketweave and moss stitch, come to think of it) are relatively hard to do on machines, if I remember correctly. How about this idea: for a while, the lust for the finished product tides us through the process. If the process takes too long, the product-lust wears off and we want to start something new. But that sounds horribly as if we don't actually like the process at all! Well, that can't be right. We know we love to knit! ________________________________ 1 There's a reason for that - the purl side of a stitch is bulkier than the knit side. If all the purl sides are crammed together, like in stockinette, the fabric is pushed 'taller' by all the stacked bumps - that's why it curls. It's the easiest way for both sides of the stitches to be the size they want. In moss stitch, the bumps are very efficiently packed and the fabric can relax down to a shorter height - and not curl. Garter stitch shows this, too.

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Blogger Mary deB said...

I was all ready with my pat answer: It's all got to do with the pretty, pretty yarn. But then, I am knitting right now with not especially pretty yarn, that is not even super soft, but it'll make a decent sock.

I rarely look at a pattern and say, Oooh, must make that! But I'm always looking at yarn and needing that colour right now! And I don't really care what happens to things after I knit them... Oh, I don't know!

1/05/2007 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

I enjoyed your post - very thought provoking! For me it is definitely a mixture of both enjoying the process and lusting after the finished product. I find knitting relaxing in itself (I hate to sit around doing nothing) but it's the thought of the FO that spurs me on.

1/05/2007 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Kendra said...

Thanks for the offer of the slow cooker recipes. It's so kind of you. My email address is (I'm not veggie or allergic to anything).

1/07/2007 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

I've often wondered... lately I've had to do a lot of editing at work and become, as a result, super-pedantic. I've been putting books aside if they aren't perfect and frogging every single WIP because I no longer love it or don't have confidence it'll turn out perfect. It seems to me my perfectionist ways are at war with my creativity. All I can think to do is... eat more sweets. And hope this phase will pass.

10/29/2007 10:03:00 PM  

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