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The Joys of Being a Process Knitter

I’ve often wondered, with all the knitting I do, why I don’t have more finished projects to enjoy.

Most of the things I’ve made, I have given away. I give them to friends and family to enjoy (I hope), and then I make something else.

It’s not that I don’t care for the finished products. I am excited to see how they turn out, and I enjoy seeing people wear the things I’ve made. But I’ve realized that the finished object isn’t what makes me tick.

For me, it’s all about the knitting itself. That makes me a process knitter.

Process Knitter vs Project Knitter

Process knitters enjoy the act of knitting, figuring out the techniques and the stitches, etc. If you mess up, you don’t mind tearing it out and starting again (see my experience with my Rolling Rock sweater).

As a process knitter, you’re more likely to have just one or two projects going at once.

Project knitters work for the finished product. You get excited about casting on, and about the finished product, but the time between cast on and bind of might not be so enjoyable for you.

You’re more likely to have a bunch of projects going at once, and to jump around between them.

Most people fall somewhere on a spectrum, and it’s hard to be just one kind or the other, but these are the two big categories.

The Joys of Being a Process Knitter

Dr Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at UT Austin in the US, suggests that process knitters, on balance, probably get more enjoyment from knitting than project knitters.

In an interview on the VeryPink Knits podcast, he says, “Process people spend time enjoying the moments. It’s the problem-solving and the time spent that creates the enjoyment.”

For project knitters, on the other hand, “the highs are higher, the lows are lower, and probably overall it’s hard to be as satisfied on any given day to work on something.”

As a process knitter, it’s true that I get most enjoyment out of actually doing the knitting and getting it right. It’s a puzzle to figure out, a mystery to discover, and when I get a good pattern, it’s good fun.

How to Choose Patterns for Process Knitting

Now that’s not to say that I don’t sometimes find knitting a project a bit of a slog. If I’m not motivated by the pattern, if it’s boring or too repetitive, I’ll get into a slump.

In order to avoid such a slump, I pick challenging patterns. I look for new construction of a sweater, or new stitches or techniques so that I can learn something new.

I’m currently working on Carol Sunday’s Mia Francesca, a heavily cabled number with an interesting new construction I’ve never encountered before. It’s fascinating, and I’m enjoying it immensely. It will probably be finished, however, just in time for warm spring weather.

Finally Knitting for Me

Though I’m not a project knitter, I do want to make more items for myself that I’ll be able to enjoy. Since 2016 was the year of knitting for others, 2017 is the year of knitting for me. First this cardigan, and next up will be a new shawl to enjoy.

Dr Markman also notes that knitting is a great brain training activity for three good reasons. First, the fine motor control needed to knit engages your brain in a valuable way. Second, it requires problem solving, since you often have to figure out instructions or new techniques. That requires thought, which is always brain-healthy.

Finally, the social side of knitting is also beneficial. If you get stuck, or you need help, you can call up your knitting friends or go to a knitting circle, which is also good for the brain.

So if you’re in the Munich area and you’re looking for an English-speaking knitting circle, check out my new Stitch n’ Bitch on Meetup.com!

 

Image credit: Edel Rodriguez (source from Google Images).

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The Emotional Value of Frogging

Frogging, in the knitting world, means to completely unravel a piece of knitted work.

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See the little frog? Yup. That means it’s been frogged.

Remember my beautiful Rolling Rock sweater I completed a few months ago? It no longer exists in sweater form. It has been frogged.

“Jane!” you exclaim, “That’s terrible! Why? After all your hard work!”

You’d be right there. It was a lot of hard work. But it turned out to be simply too fitted. And I figure, if I’m going to be making clothes for myself, I want them to fit correctly. And so, I frogged it.

How to Frog

I always find inspiration on YouTube from Stacey Perry of VeryPink Knits. Her video about reusing yarn is super helpful.

I would just make one note: I did NOT take the ball off the ball winder once I had finished unraveling. I kept it on there and wound the yarn around the swift, and put it back into hank form from there. It just seemed a little easier than dealing with the cake of yarn rolling all over the place.

How I Got to This Point

You might think that this must be the world’s most frustrating thing to do. After spending hours on a project, having to rip it out and start over again must be maddening.

You wouldn’t be wrong.

In my case, I wasn’t so frustrated, because I did see it coming. I tried on my sweater periodically, and I knew it was more fitted than I had wanted. But I kept telling myself I would be sure to like it when it was done.

But when I had finally finished it, I had to be completely honest.

I was never going to wear this sweater.

It was going to be one of those things that sat in my closet and I never put on because it clung a bit too unforgivingly to my curves. *Sigh* I simply had to frog it.

Where is the Emotional Value in Frogging?

Frogging does have its value. It is a rather cathartic exercise. It’s fun to see how quickly you can unravel something that took HOURS to make (did I say “fun”? I guess I’m masochistic).

But of more value still is the thought process that leads to frogging as a conclusion.

We want everything we do to be successful and beautiful, but that’s not always going to happen. Some things simply don’t turn out well.

And that is okay!

It’s okay to fail at things, and recognize that we have failed. Especially when failure is so relatively unimportant, as in the case of an ill-fitting sweater.

Frogging allows us to acknowledge our failure, embrace it, learn from it, and try again (or move on).

Try, Try Again

I plan to make this sweater again. An indication that something was wrong should have been that I had an entire skein of yarn leftover. Seeing as I had an over abundance, I will make the sweater again in a larger size.

No one likes to have to admit that we need a larger size, but hey. That’s life. It’s hard not to slowly expand as the years go by and the baby weight never totally comes off (SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE ON THIS).

At the very least, I will have a beautiful, nicely fitting sweater that will flatter my new figure.

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Moving On

Before the November 8th US presidential election, I wrote an article about why it’s important to vote, and why I had voted for Hillary Clinton.

As you have probably heard, Donald Trump won the election.

Where do I go from here?

Nowhere, really.

Living in Europe, Trump’s victory has very little impact on my day to day life. Other than hearing about it incessantly in social media and on the radio, that is.

It’s interesting to hear the media issuing mea culpa after mea culpa, and asking themselves how they were so completely blindsided by Trump’s election.

The answer is pretty easy: the media is biased. We are all biased. We live in our echo chambers and hear what we want to hear. We’ve become so polarized that we can’t stand to hear opinions that differ from ours.

Trump said sexist, racist, and horrifying things. And we liberals wanted to make those the main campaign issues. The cultural issues, the media is calling them.

But for a huge part of the country, the economy was their main issue. This article from the Harvard Business Review is an extremely informative and interesting read.

I find it hard to separate the man from his despicable behavior, ideas and remarks, but a lot of Americans didn’t.

Americans wanted change, but did we get it?

So we voted for change. (Actually, most of us voted for Hillary, but don’t get me started on the Electoral College). But will we get it?

Trump has said he will drain the swamp. I’m pretty sure Obama wanted to do that, too. So far, Trump hasn’t gotten off to a roaring start. He’s hired lobbyists (and fired some), and he’s scaled back on some of his campaign promises already.

So it remains to be seen if the Trump presidency will be the big change factor lots of Americans hoped it would be. I am not optimistic.

Unless, of course, we mean change for the worse for large portions of the American population.

How can we make it better?

With Thanksgiving coming up in just one week, many of us may be dreading the family get-together. Maybe you’re the only cousin who voted for Trump. Or you voted for Hillary and the rest of your family went for Trump.

Either way, it’s going to be awkward.

The only way to make it better is to listen to each other. And I mean, really listen.

That means, listen to what a person is saying without thinking of your comeback, put-down or counter-argument. Just listen. If you can, let that person talk your ear off, then take some time to digest what you’ve heard. Formulate questions on things you haven’t understood, and come back and ask them respectfully and non-combatively. Listen. And then listen some more.

Hopefully, if we listen enough, we may understand. And others may pay us the respect of listening to us in return.

Another way to make it better…

If you see something, say something.

I don’t mean suspicious activity in an airport or a public place. I mean, if you see lawmakers moving to enact unethical laws, then write. Write to your congressperson. Make noise.

Don’t let us wake up in a few years and wonder how on earth we got to where we are. Let’s fight Trump’s (and anyone’s, for that matter) bigoted policies.

I have faith that our system and our institutions will not allow Trump to become what others have predicted he will. But that faith counts on the attention, the engagement, and the willingness to speak up of the American people.

Let’s pay attention. Let’s stay engaged.

Let’s keep listening.

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