Traditionally it is believed there are 2 types of knitters/crafters out there. Product and Process. A product crafter makes things because there is a need/desire for the thing they are making, a process crafter makes things because they enjoy the act of making stuff. Let’s talk about each a little more in depth.
Product crafters are more likely to be the gift givers. This is the person staying awake until 3 in the morning to finish knitting a hat in time for a birthday. Product crafters may not necessarily be the kind to live their life in their craft, but instead are opportunistic crafters who work out of necessity.
Process crafters are those who never leave the house without a travel project and may have an entire instagram account dedicated to their ventures. This is the person who will celebrate cancelled plans because it means they get to spend their time doing their chosen craft.
But is it that black and white? Do product knitters only knit when they want a finished object, and process crafters not care about their end result as long as they get to make stuff?
Not at all. In fact it has been my experience in perusing instagram, Facebook & crafting forums that most crafters tend to be a healthy mix of both.
Somebody may see a sweater and want to make it because they want it in their wardrobe, and that same person may see an interesting yarn and want to cast on socks with it because they want to enjoy watching the yarn knit up and reveal its true colors.
I started as a hardcore product knitter. As much as I enjoyed knitting, I only really did it when I needed to make a gift or something to sell. I didn’t start enjoying it as a process until I took on some less “instant gratification” projects. Before that I mostly stuck with quick knit gifts like worsted weight hats and fingerless gloves. The first big thing I made that allowed me to simply enjoy the process, because I knew I wouldn’t be done in just a couple hours, was a colorwork fingering weight hat called the “Polar Chullo” pictured here:
Now, don’t judge the quality, this was several years ago.
I very much loved the process of making this hat. It started as a product knit. It was going to be a gift for my brother but I found it impossible to let go of after spending so much time with it. It is still in my closet and comes out every winter…
After that point i fluctuated between being a product knitter and a process knitter.
Out of need for a Product I made this big single ply mohair shawl (which happened to be my first ever shawl) for a shawl swap back in the summer of 2013 that made me think “I am never touching another shawl pattern in my life”.
What I began to find was product knitting made me dislike knitting. Anytime I was knitting something because somebody wanted me to make it for them, or because I wanted the finished object, I found the task completely tedious regardless of how good the end results were. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a completely selfish knitter by any means. I still do a lot of gift knitting and sewing. But the difference is I WANT to make those things for that person. I enjoy knitting slippers for my younger brother because I know they will keep his tootsies warm and will remind him of me when I can’t be there.
So what happens when a particular project flip flops between being product and process? This is when we cast something on with vigor and fizzle out almost as fast.
What happened to me with that first shawl I made was I cast it on excitedly, knowing it would wow the recipient and make them feel special that a total stranger took that much time and effort making them something. As the deadline approached I needed a finished object and it became much more of a product knit. I needed it to be finished and every row seemed to take 20 years to complete. I hated it so much that I didn’t even attempt to make another shawl until last November. That was about a 3 year recovery period.
So what changed my mind about shawls? Well spinning my own yarn definitely played a role in that. I spun a braid of fiber to be a sock weight yarn, completely intending to make socks from it. When it was finished, however, that all changed. Not only was the yardage much higher than what I would need for socks, I just thought it was too pretty to be hidden in boots or relegated to simply wearing around the house and never being seen.
So I made the “Hitch Hiker” shawl with it to show it off nicely and use up every gorgeous color.
When making the Hitch Hiker I had no “Finish By” date in mind. It was more for the experience of seeing the yarn I made work up. It was getting to add another row and see the next color transition. It was so fabulous of an experience that it made me want to cast on another shawl.
I saw a skein of yarn that was beautiful and made me imagine being wrapped in a finished shawl made with it in a nice spring dress. Welp…. Initially that next shawl was a bust.
I cast the shawl on In either January or February of this year and didn’t finish it until July…
It started as a product knit. I wanted that finished shawl. I needed it by Spring. I lost all interest in working on it by March. My work schedule got a little hectic at that time as well so a lot of my knitting time suffered, but that shawl especially got put on the back burner. I picked it back up in June because I was desparate to just enjoy some knitting. Spring had already passed so there was no more pressure to have it done by a certain time.
So what have I learned? That if I want to enjoy making something I can NOT have a deadline attached. Some of you lucky ducks out there work even better under pressure and really turn into diamonds! I am not one of those ducks though. I am more of the duck that wants to cross the pond but if it is frozen I am just gonna wait for it to thaw. The interesting thing is that with sewing I am that diamond duck. If I don’t have a deadline attached to a sewing project it might not get made for a year or more.
I have been able to crank out a lot more projects by remembering to just enjoy the process, regardless of when it is actually finished. Incidentally, removing the pressure of a deadline means it gets done that much faster because I just allow myself to enjoy working on it instead of looking at it in disdain as it languishes in the corner.
What is your method? Are you a process crafter? Product crafter? Both? Are you a diamond under pressure duck or a fair weather duck?