process or product?

this week i’ve found myself in the conversation about process vs product knitting twice. and come to find out, i’m surrounded by process knitters. my yoga instructor, nearly my whole knitting group on tuesdays. hollie. rachel. so many of them.

so. thoughts about process knitting made me start thinking about process spinning.


i’ve been spinning up a storm (my deadline for spinning is monday) for the two big craft fairs.

i’m guessing many people are a mix of process and product. i knit for process when i choose patterns to try new things. but much of my personal knitting is for me, ben, or gifts, so the choices are also practical.  i would describe myself as a precise, but relaxed knitter. and now that i think about it, i might lean product. i want my knitting to journey beyond me. i want it to be useful. i don’t have tons of half finished projects that i started because they seemed interesting, then i got it and stopped.  i might say i’m a semi-product knitter.  the process of completing, of doing, and of finishing something beautiful is also a mighty force.  the obedience and patience to make it through has so much to do with process for me.  but i don’t think that’s the classic definition of process knitting ;)

with spinning, i certainly spin to knit. i make yarns that i would like to knit with. i enjoy the process, but i wouldn’t like my yarns if they didn’t knit well so i’m a product spinner. although it is a meditative process… see me waffle on both?  either way, i don’t spin art yarn and i don’t spin wobbly yarn (that plied with nylon thread).  why?  ’cause i don’t like to knit them.  product.  and right now, i’m spinning lots of products.

it’s interesting to come from an art background, where art for arts sake is strongly emphasized.  i guess i never quite believed that either.  i like my art and my craft to be effective and deep on many levels.  in order for that to happen with painting, i’d need a captive audience to explore the pieces with.  a hat?  we all understand hats.  a hat with art on it?  maybe osmosis :D

so, what are you? process or product?  did you start out as one and turn into the other?  what are the ‘signs’ that tell what you are?

14 thoughts on “process or product?

  1. I’m definitely a product knitter. I love the process of knitting, but I can’t just knit something for the sake of the process. I choose my projects carefully, and love the finished product. I feel proud wearing a sweater or shawl that I’ve knitted, and love noting the details that I couldn’t get in something store-bought.

  2. I am product everything, not just knitting. Instead of calling it “product,” though, I have also thought I am am instant gratification. If I am on a hike, I often want to get to the top, see the beauty, feel the relief, come back down. As with knitting, I want to see my finished product, how pretty it is, give it away and move on. Process is not my strength.

  3. hmmmm….i’m a bit of both i think. i like the act of knitting, but i think it’s the desire to make a product that makes me happy. i don’t worry about the details, though. if i’m missing 1 stitch, i don’t tear back and find the mistake, i add a stitch and move on. i only have 2 or 3 things on the needles at any time, because i need to finish things. its the finish that makes me happy. if the thing happens to fit or function the way i intended, then fantastic. if it doesn’t, ahh well, at least i can say i finished it. i’ll just find a body it will work with!!
    spinning? i’m a process girl. spinning is my way to relax. it’s very calming. when i spin for a project, i usually end up disappointed because it didn’t end up the way i like it. so, i just spin, and wait for the yarn to tell me what it wants to be…instead of telling the yarn what it will be when i make it.

  4. Depends on what I’m working on. Some fiber wants to be spun just for the sake of spinning it. Some fiber wants to be a product. My current spinning project is my very first cotton so it’s all about process, but the last skein of wool I did was destined to be socks from the moment I saw the roving. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy the process of spinning it, I do, but there’s a definite end result to be had.

    Knitting, I enjoy the process, yes, because it keeps me from fidgeting and keeps me busy and it’s fascinating but I also love when a project is done and I can wear it or give it as a gift or put it to use as intended. So I suppose I’m a mixture of both, probably in about equal parts.

  5. I know that I am a bit of both. I am in love with the actual process of knitting, and I do choose patterns to learn techniques that I want to learn, for the challenge of them, but I don’t often knit things that don’t have a use. If I won’t wear/use it, or someone I know won’t wear/use it, then I probably won’t knit it, no matter how awesomely clever and interesting the technique is.

  6. I would have to say that I’m a full process spinner, although I’m trying to break out of that habit. The bags of handspun I have on hand can attest to that fact. I rarely have a project in mind while I’m spinning. I mostly just spin to see how the fiber will turn out. I love going through the motions and the way the fiber slips through my fingers. I love watching the colors meld and twist together. My only problem is that I get bored easily so I have a slot of small skeins hanging around but they don’t bother me any.

  7. i definitely started out as process…for my spinning, i mean. i became so entranced by the making of yarn that i almost stopped knitting entirely. now, i spend equal time with knitting and spinning, probably a little heavier on the knitting these days, and mostly with handspun. i actually enjoy knitting with funky art yarns…i usually spin them with the potential finished knit in mind…but i also adore a smooth single or a lovely plied yarn…so does that make me lean more towards product??? perhaps i am a healthy balance of both. it’d be nice to think i have balance in my life somewhere!

  8. I’m a product knitter in that I love to get a finished product. I’m especially a product knitter when it comes to simple projects — basic hats, socks, sweaters with miles of stockinette, etc. If I could finish a pair of socks in ten minutes rather than ten hours, I would be just as satisfied with the product. When I am working with a more complicated pattern, like lace or color work or cables, then I shift to being a process knitter, because it is the process that keeps me engaged, not the percentage of finished product before me. However, even simple projects have their moments when the process takes over — decreases at the crown of hats, working the heels and toes in basic socks, waist shaping in a plain, vanilla sweater…those are process elements in otherwise product knits.

  9. I think I’m both, leaning heavily toward product knitter. I enjoy the process of knitting, but I don’t enjoy it if it becomes clear that what I’m making is not going to turn out how I want it to. I choose patterns based on what the finished product will be. Sometimes I see a pattern that results in an amazing product but I won’t knit it because I don’t think it will be enjoyable to knit.

  10. I tend to be a process creator. It’s a problem with trying to sell the things I make, because with each item I make, I get so sucked into the process that my time spent making is not so efficient. When I’m following a pattern, I ALWAYS have to tweak it…that’s what makes it fun! Even while I was learning to knit, I’d always have to change the pattern in some way. I have a pallet of fiber, yarn, fabric in my studio, so when it’s time to create, I pull out things that inspire a project and let them tell me what to make.

  11. I’m really a product person, I think, though I say that with a couple of stipulations. For most things I create, I have a really special and particular process, but its always driven by the idea of the finished product, and I don’t feel satisfied until the object is finished. The most complete process I can think of as an example is a show (carousel) I designed the costumes for last year. I started working on it almost six months in advance, with a ton of image research (all klimt) that lived on my wall where I could take it in before doing any thing about it for several months. Then, a month of sketching and collaging and watching moulin rouge and looking at old-time circus posters. Then, hunting through thrift stores for rough wooly sweaters and gold lame, getting all sorts of ideas in the aisles of village discount (like, every woman in the chorus would wear an outer corset constructed from sweaters and coat hangers as boning). And yet all along it was with a set goal in mind, the finished product, and that is what drove it and really made me feel accomplished — seeing the costumes on stage and in action. Every thing else felt more like “work” that would make the reward all the more sweet. Its quite similar with knitting — I never start a project unless I have a specific purpose in mind for it.

  12. I’m a bit of both I think. The process of knitting soothes me and makes me all happy and relaxed (maybe not all the time though – grrr) but the final product makes me happy too. I like working towards an end. It’s a little sad when it’s over, but the end product is exactly what I wanted when I first started. If it’s not, then the process has taught me something and eventually I’ll go back and change what didn’t work. Mind you I have plenty of things on the needles, but that’s cos I’m fickle. Completely fickle. :)

  13. Pingback: not my problem. « cosymakes

  14. Hmmm. I guess I would say I lean to the process side. Tad used to get very upset when I would frog something (still does sometimes – “All that work!!”) frogging generally doesn’t bother me, I enjoy the act of knitting enough that I don’t mind re-doing; I love learning new skills and I love “getting it” when the new skill sinks in and makes sense – or when the yarn and the pattern have come together appropriately and it is good. On the other hand, I’m not above letting a mistake go if I think it won’t matter to the finished product (I guess it does have to be a relatively *small* mistake…) I am getting frustrated for lack of finished useful objects lately though, so I probably am a mix. I cannot seem to finish a baby sweater – thread doesn’t match, closures aren’t perfect. And this is one that I can’t stand for it not to be perfect. But I may feel worse if she doesn’t actually get to use it. I love your statement about your knits journeying beyond you….

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