What Makes YOU Do This?
January 27, 2005
There seems to be something going through blogland. So many people want to knit a project 'fast' or are bogged down with projects they have started. We all have many things in the stash but this is something more. They can't seem to settle down and are almost to the point of frustration. So my question is why are you knitting? Let's give it a moment of thought. There is that desire to create, the desire to have something new, something attractive and/or warm, BUT if those were the only reasons why you knit, why not just buy a sweater or a pair of socks?
Is it the "show off" factor? Truly, few people will ask if you made it or give you a compliment on even the most complicated sweater. In fact you'll be noticed more with a new hairdo than a new sweater. And, as we know, it certainly isn't to save money. Would you knit just because your best friend does? You have to 'like' knitting to do it as much as we do. So just what is it that drives a knitter?
When knitters say "I'm bored with this." or "It's going too slow." it makes me wonder what is going on elsewhere in their lives. Knitting isn't usually fast and as my mother said "If you are bored, you are boring." Life Lesson #524 learned at an early age...be curious, be creative. That doesn't mean that you should continue to knit a project gone bad, BUT something you DO like shouldn't be difficult to finish.
Yes, there are a couple of long abandoned projects in my WIPs album, but they are not forsaken. It is more that my curiosity has caused me to venture too far and too often. As soon as the Ribby is finished that Domino Shawl will become my 'easy knitting'. And perhaps Seaweed will soon surface as she is too beautiful to leave for long. I always wish for more time to knit because of all that I 'desire' to do, but that is different than being bored with a project.
So, back to what it is that drives you to knit. What was it that captured you when you first learned to knit? It couldn't have been because it was fast, or your finished project was exquisite. It was most likely that you enjoyed the wrapping of the yarn around the stick and creating a stitch, a row, and watching each one form a fabric that became a scarf or hat. It WAS the process, it really was, or you would never have continued your quest to create. Didn't you find it mesmerizing, fascinating, rewarding? Remember that, the process of knitting, as you knit your chosen project today. It IS the process.
what a cool post margene. i have to admit i love a quick cozy knits, but more than anything is the relaxing calm that occurs when i'm knitting. i'm one of those "mind all of the place kinda gals" and there are few moments when i'm not making a to do list about something or thinking about what needs to get done in everyday life in my head(groceries, what time is mini's soccer practice and the list goes on). but when i knit....aaahhhh. i have had people get annoyed when they see my knitting and think "oh i thought we were going to chat, not me meet you while you knit" ugh. i tried my bit at being polite and keeping the sticks in the bag. then one day i'd had a stressful day and sometimes you MUST multitask so i insisted on knitting and chatting(yes, a nonknitter) and she noticed a change, a calm, an open ear and receptiveness and lack of preoccupation (my mind is always racin')and now wants to knit too. knittin' has lot of perks. but that's why i knit. 'nough said.
Posted by: froggy | January 27, 2005 at 04:49 AM
Margene - as always, you give us a moment to think...trying to feel why we love it so. It is the way a fabric forms as I wrap and turn and twist and move. It amazes me each time I look at a piece I've made, or even just a few rows, that the result came from two sticks and a bit of wool. Even the most simple stockinette (which may become a tad tedious at times) is amazing. While I do need the occasional "quick fix," I really do think it is all about "the process." I think my new found love of socks is all about that - I am amused to no end how just a turn of the needles can make something so small and perfect! Those old WIPs are always waiting for the right moment to reemerge aren't they. :)
Thanks for the morning reflection!!
Posted by: Jackie | January 27, 2005 at 05:08 AM
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!!!!! Before blogworld, I used to just go at a comfortable and enjoyable pace with my spinning and knitting. Sometimes I would actually put it down for a few weeks and focus on something else, such as preparing a puppy for the ring. Somehow, I have started to feel pressured in my knitting recently, that if I don't keep up with people (and I am not a fast knitter), that I am lacking somehow. What I have ended up with is recurring tendonitus and stiff shoulders.
Thank you for writing, so eloquently, exactly how I have been feeling lately. A lot of my joy in my craft has been overtaken by an almost competitivness.......and I don't enjoy that so much.
Posted by: Kim | January 27, 2005 at 05:14 AM
For me? I am an artist, I guess. I love to create interesting, beautiful things...whether a sock, a quilt, a garden, a sewn garment, an embroidered felt needlecase, a vintage doll, an essay, a meal. Putting something together with my hands has always been a necessary expression of who I am. I love yarn. I am likely to buy a skein of yarn because of it's texture and color and the way it nestles in my hand, and never knit anything with it. So with knitting,it was a natural. I can create a lovely thing. I have the avocation that I can take with me anywhere...the thing that has connected me to incredible women I would have never met elsewhere...the option of hopping from project to project depending on my mood and yes, always the thrill of the finished project...the "i did it myself" factor. And the ability to teach others, as well. I guess, Margene, that's why I knit.
Posted by: Lynne | January 27, 2005 at 05:19 AM
Well, I started to knit because I'm incapable of not doing something with my hands. I continue to knit because I love the amazing results that can be acheived with needles and yarn. I think that's what I love about lace - it amazes me every time.
Bogged down? Me? I know for a fact that blogging has changed my knitting. Not in a bad way, though. I've enjoyed the challenge of knowing that people are watching.
I've also avoided knitalongs, for the most part, for that very reason. The pressure and fear of getting bogged down and the likelihood that I would start a project that wasn't where my heart was.
Posted by: Cassie | January 27, 2005 at 05:40 AM
Margene, you write so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your "purls of wisdom" with us. :)
I just posted a comment on my blog about enjoying the process...I even said that I was being "margene-like" I'm working on a sock pattern, and I just can't memorize the repeats, but I'm enjoying it. The finished product will be wonderful, yes, but I'm really, really trying to just enjoy the process and watch my handiwork bloom.
thank you, again, for reminding us to enjoy. :)
Posted by: Angela | January 27, 2005 at 05:53 AM
What made me starting to knit?
I was always courious if I can manage something. So as a child I tried out a lot of crafts. Crocheting, Knitting and a lot I can not name in english. I also sewed some clothes for my dolls and stuffed animals. Somewhen around when I was 9 to 10 I started knitting, it fascinated me to create stuff. I remeber how I went home from school, Mum not yet home from work and I called my Grandma because I had to know in that minute how to make purl stitches. before I used only knit ones.
Today it is still the curiosity that makes me want to start a knew project. (what also amde me starting to use english patterns, will I manage this..).
It is also the love for yarn. I can get really excited touching a yarn, see its colour, imagine how it would look knitted up. Or seeing a pattern and to imaging how I could do this, how it will fit to myself.
Further more knitting calms me down, keeps my hands busy while watching tv or talking and is something I can do while my toddler is playing around. I love the process, I love to see how it grows.
Boredom is here when it takes soo long some stockinette stuff to finish or a second part like a sock or a sleeve, after I discovered how the stuff will look like or the pattern works or the yarn looks/ feel.
It is the curiosity that also makes me to start too much projects at one time :)
Thank you for your question, now I can go on and finish some stuff I was to bored or lazy to finish yet.
Posted by: Sibylle | January 27, 2005 at 06:15 AM
Hm... I'm betting you will get a LOT of responses on this one.
My 2 cents - I knit for a couple of reasons.
1. I simply HAVE to be productive. I cannot stand sitting without doing something. I've been this way since I was 2. I'm not fidgety, but it just gnaws at me that I am wasting time this trip around, and since there is so little of it, I'd best be doing SOMETHING worthwhile. (And by that, I mean worthwhile to ME...which brings me to #2.)
2. I like creating. I like being able to take one thing and make it into something else: Paperclips, scraps of paper, bread flour, yarn - whatever. And for me that's the draw with knitting because one piece of yarn can be manipulated in so many different ways to create something magickal each time. I like knitting for the sake of knitting and yes.... while I do have a big stash......I'd probably be just as happy knitting the same yarn, ripping it and knitting something new out of it, over and over.
Posted by: Anne | January 27, 2005 at 06:33 AM
I learned how to knit when I was in my teens and my family wasn't well off so it was a way for me to wear trendy items and be frugal at the same time. Of course that was a long, long time ago when I didn't know anything about expensive yarns and I used acrylic yarns all the time. Back to the present, I like to knit because it makes me feel creative, like I'm creating something. But the funny thing is I follow patterns all the time so I'm not being as creative as I was when I was younger and poorer. Back then I designed my own sweaters or copied from magazines, etc. I also like the social aspects of knitting because I've met many great people in the knitting community near and far. Knitting keeps my mind focused and sharpened because it forces me to be visual and think in different ways than I normally do.
Posted by: monica | January 27, 2005 at 06:35 AM
I was thinking something very similar last night - I was cleaning out my WIP files, and realized that although I feel overwhelmed by what I have to finish, I am really only working on 5 things, and 4 of them I really like. I just asked myself - what's your hurry? Who are you racing against? So what if you don't finish right away?
And the answer is - my own sense of perfectionism, other bloggers who are better and faster than I, greed for beautiful things, lust for beautiful yarns. And that's just silly - not me, nor who I want to be, and not why I like knitting in the first place. Well, except for the fiber lust.
So I knit a few inches on my current sweater, reminded myself I can't buy more of this yarn until I see if I like how it wears, swatched some stuff I'm thinking about, realized that my interest in finishing a sweater I shelved in August is reanimating, and went to bed feeling much better.
I think it is just easy to get caught up in the frantic stuff of life, and then transfer that bad vibrating energy to the thing that should be your refuge.
Thanks for the timely reminder.
Posted by: juno | January 27, 2005 at 07:12 AM
I have recently thought about this. And came to the conclusion that I am a process over product knitter. Knitting is something that I can do and it is productive, while making me feel creative.
I like seeing others wear or use things I have made- but more importantly for me I like making them. Mostly this results from knitting always being my destressing mechanism. And when I look at it I learned when I was under stress, I knit my way through a VERY nasty realtionship break-up, I took knitting classes when work and unemployment were making my life miserable, I got hooked back in when I was stressing out in grad school courses here in France, and I am a knitting dervish now as I am going through the wait and interview processes.
I am enjoying learning more about the craft, I am learning to make things for myself that I would actually wear; and I am pleased to be a part of the knitting blogger community. But in the end I think that this habit is and always will be about the zen and calming effects on my soul, psyche and level of insanity, by having two clicking needles in my hands.
Posted by: stinkerbell | January 27, 2005 at 07:12 AM
Wow, look at the thoughtful comments you got on this. You obviously struck a chord. But I just have to mention that I love your mother's quote best of all: "If you are bored, you are boring." Being the parent of an only child, I kind of wish I'd had that on in my arsenal. ;-)
Posted by: Norma | January 27, 2005 at 07:31 AM
Margene, I love the way you think, and I love the way you make us think. I've been in "knitting boredom" mode lately, and in a frantic rush to get things done and use up my stash, I've forgotten to enjoy the process of pulling loops of string through other loops of string to create things that are more solid than just string. Life is forcing me to take a knitting break this weekend...that might be the space I need to appreciate the process yet again.
Posted by: Jaimi | January 27, 2005 at 07:43 AM
Sometimes I just sit back in awe of the fact that a single strand BECAME something else because of me wrapping it around a needle...
Posted by: Mary Beth | January 27, 2005 at 07:51 AM
Thank you for this post, Margene. You really have a gift for putting things in the proper perspective. It *is* the process!
I'm going to have to come back later & read through these comments~ they're great! I'm enjoying reading everyone's thoughts.
Posted by: Annie | January 27, 2005 at 07:52 AM
thanks margene, i needed that! i have a few things going on now and it seems that each is going slowly because all are getting in the way of each other. but i am enjoying them individually. i think that when i complain about a project, it is a way of making excuses/appologizing to others for lack of visible progress. and it's the justifying/rationalizing that saps the enjoyment, not the knitting. from now on, no apologies, 'cause i love to knit; it's my gift to myself.
Posted by: corine | January 27, 2005 at 08:08 AM
I was first attracting to knitting because it seemed like an earthy, tried and true hobby. Plus, it was something new to learn. I like to learn new techniques and am attracted to that aspect of knitting moreso than increasing my stash. Probably also because at this time in my life, I don't have the money it takes to knit such expensive stuff. :)
Posted by: Liz | January 27, 2005 at 08:43 AM
attract(ed) ... plus, where I was going with the $$ aspect is that it doesn't take hundreds of dollars of yarn to learn how to cable, etc. Thanks for this post, Margene!
Posted by: Liz | January 27, 2005 at 08:44 AM
Thought provoking blog and comments for me. I am a new knitter (June 04) but have been a cross stitcher for fifty years. I love the feel of wool and the calm that I must create for knitting. I come to knitting when I am tangled inside and even a difficult row can be a peaceful place for me. Of course, I often tangle the knitting too and save some very simple stuff for those times when a pattern is only increasing my general frustration.
Thanks for posting on this.
Posted by: Susan | January 27, 2005 at 09:21 AM
Hey there Margene,
I find that if I have one easy knit and one harder knit going it's the perfect balance. When I just need to veg, mindless knitting is perfect. If it weren't for that and spinning, we'd probably have a hefty therapy bill. lol.
Posted by: Jean | January 27, 2005 at 09:28 AM
great post! i think that's why i don't mind creating an endless wanna knit list. just thinking about it is part of the process (and fun) for me, and what gets done, gets done.
Posted by: mrspilkington | January 27, 2005 at 09:40 AM
Thanks so much for this post. Sometimes I get so caught up with what other bloggers are finishing that I feel like I need to hurry up and finish whatever I'm working on...usually so I can start on something else that I've seen that I want to attempt. Your post is a great reminder to me that I love knitting for the knitting, not only the product, though the finished product is nice. :)
Posted by: Grace | January 27, 2005 at 09:48 AM
Hey Margene, you should know that ever since I discovered your blog (just before Secret Pal 2 I think) I have always kept in mind your "It's the process" mantra. Seriously! I can be impulsive and impatient with my projects, or greedy for a finished thing I can show off and use, but I have always tried to remind myself of the real "why" of knitting. It comes through in your posts all the time. You're one of my knit-blog heroes!
Posted by: Heidi | January 27, 2005 at 10:12 AM
This was a great post, and timely, it seems. I am in the middle of knitting something that I am finding very enjoyable. The yarn is great, the pattern is fun, the fabric is lovely. Yesterday I found a "knitalong" on another blog that starts in February. It's a sweater that I have the pattern and yarn for and definitely want to do, but not just right now. For a few hours, I was in this anxious, "gotta finish this now so I can keep up with the rest of the pack" mode. It reminds me of something from Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's VERY loosely paraphrased, because I can't find the book right now, but basically he talks about climbing a mountain as a joyful experience as long as you enjoy the sides of the mountain and not just look at the top. The process of getting there is as important as the getting there itself.
Posted by: Lorette | January 27, 2005 at 10:38 AM
What drives me? Process and product. It's nice to have a process that produces something. But production knitting? Not for me. There's something about mastering a technique or memorizing a repeat that is very orderly in a very disorderly world. Stress relief. And pretty things!
Posted by: Celia | January 27, 2005 at 10:44 AM