Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Process, Product, and Resolve
(please pardon the crazy paragraph spacing in this post ... blogger is misbehaving!)

From time to time I hear conversations or read discussions in online forums about whether someone is a "process" or "product" knitter. As far as I'm concerned, these conversations are mostly just an excuse for us to chit chat about knitting and yarn. Any reason for a nice, long discussion about knitting is a good enough reason, isn't it?

In truth, I think the answer is always pretty much the same. That is, neither one nor the other, but a bit of both. Oh, once in a while we all knit something either purely because the pattern seems so interesting or purely because we or someone we know simply MUST have that boring-to-knit-but-beautiful-to-wear-XYZ. For the most part though, I think we all search for projects that satisfy both the desire to enjoy the knitting process and the desire to enjoy the finished product. This is where the struggle comes in for me.

My tastes are simple. Take me into a store with knitwear and show me an amazing sweater with an intricate pattern of interlocking cables and an assymetrical shawl collar and I'll finger it and study the stitches and ooh and ahh, but in the end I'll choose the plain ribbed turtleneck sitting quietly in the background on a nearby shelf. It's a rare occasion when I find a pattern that satisfies me from both a process and product perspective. I think that's why I find myself drawn lately to small projects.

With a small project, if my motivation to knit a particular pattern is mostly based on the end-product, but the pattern itself is not terribly compelling, that's alright. Even mindnumbingly dull and irritatingly slow 2X2 rib is alright for a short stretch. Small projects also allow one to take on something very detailed and requiring close attention to every stitch without having to commit six month's of one's life to painstakingly slow progress. Small projects are just that . . . small.

With all of that said, you know I'm leading somewhere, don't you? Well, I'm leading down the path to Excuseville. Yet again I am making excuses for not making enough progress on the two larger projects that I've been working on for what now seems an eternity. I keep allowing myself to get sidetracked.

What recently caught my fancy and derailed my plans to make good progress on my larger projects (the zipper-front sweater and the ripple stitch afghan) was this:

I came across this little gem while sorting through various knitting bins in preparation for the move I'll be making to my new house (one of these days soon, really). I knit this mitt several months ago in another moment of distraction from my larger projects. If I recall correctly, I had plans at the time to knit three pair of fingerless mitts for my three nieces. I got as far as this one.

When I saw it, I immediately recalled this project and the fact that I had liked it so much that I had written up the pattern for it as I knit. I was able to dig out that pattern from the depths of my hard drive so that I could knit the other mitt. It was also a great opportunity to test-knit the pattern myself, since it's been several months since I created the first one and so I was viewing the pattern with a fresh set of eyes. I finished the second mitt over the course of the next day or so (while my sweater and afghan languished in their respective bins, sighing with resignation from time to time).

I must say that I really like these mitts. I used my FF Sportweight Superwash Merino Wool Yarn in the Butterscotch colorway. I chose that yarn because I wanted a sturdy, warm and fitted end-product. Most of the mitts I've knit in the past were in sock yarn, so this slightly heavier yarn was a nice change and also a very quick knit. The design carries a single line of the ribbing pattern from the cuff up along the back of the hand on either side of the main cabled pattern. This creates a bit of extra stretch in the hand and makes for a really nice, snug fit that will work for almost any adult female hand (although perhaps not "ManHands" from Seinfeld).

Since the heavy lifting was finished months ago, it took little time to finalize the pattern so that I could make it available in my shop. It is there now for anyone interested.

Now that I've taken this little knitting sidetrip to finish these mitts, I am determined to get tough with myself. NO MORE NEW PROJECTS! I will not cave. I am firmly resolved and committed to making substantial progress on the zipper-front sweater and ripple stitch afghan in the remaining six weeks or so of this year.

On the zipper-front sweater, I am happy to report that I finally finished the second sleeve. Here's the photo I already showed you of the first sleeve. You'll have to trust me that it now has a twin. I can't be bothered taking another photo of the same thing.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: these sleeves were a royal pain in the rear. They are broad at the base, so there's none of that quick-start you usually have with a sleeve where you whip out the first 8 inches or so in a flash. These babies are very wide and with a 2X1 rib, they are slow going from the start. Add to that the six-inches of extra length that will form the broad cuff upward and you've got a sleeve that is way larger than any sleeve has a right to be. But the sleeves are part of what drew me to this pattern in the first place (there's that struggle and tension between process and product again!). Here's the photo of the pattern again so you can see the sleeves on the finished piece:

Now that I've finished the sleeves, you would think it's time to start blocking pieces and constructing, before putting on the collar and then moving on to the zipper. But no! Remember this:

That's the body of the sweater with an odd line that moves horizontally across the back and one side. That's my goof up that I didn't notice until I photographed the piece. It's actually barely perceptible close-up, but as you move at a distance it suddenly jumps out and becomes visible. That means I have quite a bit of frogging to do and - worse yet - reverse engineering.

Why reverse-engineering, you ask? Ahhh . . . you must have missed the post so long ago when I lamented the mistakes in the pattern. The two sides of the sweater were unbalanced in stitch number and the decreases for each of the two armholes were different. I recalculated and rewrote the pattern to correct this, but of course, those notes are long gone. And so now I have the happy task of trying to figure out what I did on the one side that is correct and then recreate it on the other side that needs to be frogged to fix that horizontal line.

As to the ripple stitch afghan, the fact is that I simply got bored to tears with this project and have been entirely ignoring it for the most part. Right now, it looks about the same as the last time you saw it several months ago, except about a foot or so longer. And it also looks a little angry at me, but perhaps that's my imagination.

I can hear the yarn and the sticks crying out to me to cast on something new. Something lace, perhaps in my new Superfine Alpaca Laceweight? Or maybe something in cashmere? I actually have a nice batch of sportweight cashmere with my own name on it, but I'll hold off on telling you about that until some time in the future. For now, if I allow myself to think about that luscious cashmere I will certainly lose my resolve.

Stay firm, Deb. Hold on. Knit through the pain. Frog the back of that sweater. Re-knit the SOB. Tackle that ripple stitch afghan as it were a little-bitty bookmark. Just Do It! Because then - oh then, oh happy day in the future - your sticks will be clear, you will be a free woman with a world of knitting possibilities before you!

Everyone have a wonderful day . . . and make some progress on those languishing UFOs!

1 comment:

Lynne E. said...

Only two WIPs and you're resolved to finish them before you cast on a new project? I'd say you are a product knitter, for sure! At the moment, I'm working on three shawls and three pairs of socks, and several sweaters are in semi-hibernation. :-)