So you are a knitter. And you’ve always heard of those two types: Process vs product knitters. But which type are you? Do you even fall into one of those categories or can you be both? Can your type change over time? Why should you care which category you fall into?
I recently came across the subject of process vs product knitters in a podcast (an old one, I’m playing catch up). So I did some more reading (e.g. this or this but there is a lot more where that came from) and I started thinking about these categories. I had always considered myself a product knitter but now I don’t think that is quite right. But does the mantle of process knitter really fit me?
Pure process knitters don’t care what they are knitting. They just love the knitting itself, the rhythm and flow of the movements, calming effect it has. These knitters also don’t mind ripping back if they’ve made a mistake as that only means more knitting.
They can knit the same pattern, the same item 10 times in a row without getting bored. They rarely fall prey to the dreaded second sock syndrome. Process knitters also like trying new things, new yarns, new techniques, new constructions. They like to learn all about their craft. Pure process knitters don’t care if they are getting an item that has use to them, they just want to knit it or to try something new.
Process knitters often have multiple projects on the needles. They like to switch it up, to have some variance in their knitting.
Pure product knitters only care about the finished item. They might not even really like the knitting itself but only the end result. They prefer quick knits. Small and easy projects like hats. Big needles and chunky yarn. They are less likely to knit more difficult items with complex cables or fair isle that take longer to finish – unless they really want that product. Then they may even knit a long cardigan with cables and intarsia on 2mm needles using fine fingering weight yarn – but they aren’t likely to enjoy the process.
They may also knit the same chunky hat pattern over and over again simply because it’s quick, easy and they like the product. They are also more likely to leave small mistakes in their knitting because ripping back would mean it would take longer to finish the project.
Product knitters are more likely to be monogamous in their knitting. They would only have to wait longer for the finished item if they are splitting their attention between projects.
Aren’t These Categories a Bit Extreme?
Yes, they are. These statements above are actually descriptions of extremes and not really of types. I don’t think that many pure process or project knitters truly exist. These are more like clichées and too generalized.
But every knitter falls somewhere on a scale or axis between these two extremes. They usually lean more toward one or the other.
How Can You Tell Which Way You’re Leaning?
If the descriptions of the extremes above didn’t help, there is another way. (I think I got this from the Very Pink Knits Podcast, but I could be mistaken. My memory turned into a sieve during my first pregnancy and it didn’t really get better again.)
Let’s say you just came across a pattern you really have to knit. What attracted you to it? Was it the finished product? Do you absolutely have to have it or wear it? Then you are more likely leaning towards being a product knitter.
Did the construction of the project interest you? Did it incorporate a technique you are new to or always wanted to try? Or did it involve a stitch pattern you love to knit? If you answered any of these questions with “yes” you are more likely leaning towards being a process knitter.
Why Should You Care?
There is no wrong type of knitter. But it is good to know more about yourself, to know your strengths and weaknesses. That way you can predict where you might run into problems and come up with strategies to help you through them. It helps you reduce frustration or stress with your knitting. Knitting is supposed to be relaxing but it likely won’t be for you if you are leaning strongly towards a product knitter and just cast on for a large cabled blanket on 2 mm needles. Neither will it be if you are a process knitter who rarely needs a pattern twice and you just committed to knitting 10 pairs of plain socks.
So Which Type am I?
I like to try out new things, no matter how difficult or complex they seem. Actually, a higher complexity attracts me. I like to learn and to challenge myself. I’m rarely a monogamous knitter but I do usually have one main project I stick to mostly. But I’m always looking for the next new thing to try and have a hard time not casting on for something new right away before I’ve finished my previous project. I rarely (almost never) knit the same thing twice.
I don’t knit just to knit, I want a finished item I can use in the end. And I hate knitting swatches and knit as few of them as I can get away with. I hate ripping back to fix mistakes. I’d rather just drop a few stitches a couple of rows and try to fix a mistake like that even though it’s often a bit more tricky. Or contemplate if I can live with the mistake (the answer to that is mostly “no”, I’m also a perfectionist).
Long passages of stockinette bore me quickly. I need at least a few decreases or increases. But knitting the same stitch pattern for countless rows also gets easily boring. Variance is what I crave. I always want to get to the next part in a pattern. I haven’t really had problems with the second sock syndrome – socks go quickly enough. (Unless they are knee socks and I had to rip back most of the second sock because I made a stupid mistake at cuff height – my Lissajous knee socks are in time out.) But large projects are tough for me: blankets, adult size sweaters, even shawls are sometimes difficult to get through. I don’t avoid those patterns but I will get impatient to have the finished item and try something new at some point.
And I choose patterns based on if I have use of the item and like the construction or techniques used.
I would say I fall somewhere in the middle between the two extremes. I care too much about the finished item and the process to be either process or product knitter. I’m both.
So which way do you lean? Or are you both like me? Did I forget to mention anything important or got something wrong? Please let me know in the comments below.
That’s it for today. I’m currently working on a review of a knitting pattern which you might get to see soon. I’m also researching tubular cast ons and bind offs, so you might get a new post about those soon. So please, Come back for more soon!
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I definitely lean towards the process side of things – I love to learn new things. But sometimes I see something I just must make to wear and then I am pretty monogamous until it is finished.
I’m like that as well. I may have other projects lying around but don’t knit them because I really must have this one thing. But generally speaking, I have problems with monogamy in knitting. There are simply too many wonderful things I could all be casting on right now.
I lean more toward the process knitter. I like to knit different things and don’t mind ripping out a whole project if I don’t like it when I finish it. I like to have several projects going at all time but I also like to finish projects.
You said it perfectly. I think I am also leaning towards the processing with the learning about stitches, techniques and fibers high in my priorities, but because I have been a test knitter for years finishing the piece including blocking is simply part of the knitting. Wearing the piece is quite another story. Some things I have never worn and I also give away knits even shawls as presents to friends.
I am very much a technique knitter and fall between the two. I always fix my mistakes no matter how much I have knitted, now and again I like to knit items that I don’t have to concentrate for the pleasure of the rhythm of knitting. I look for technical challenges to push the boundaries of my knitting and my knitting must be perfect which comes from my mother, annoyed me learning from her when I was a child.
that’s why i have so many ufo’s. One big project, one complicated, one simple, one easily toteable. Just depends on what mood i’m in…process or project. could be both in the same day. Guess i’m a bi-polar knitter. Please, I mean no offense toward anyone.
I like to make things but I get bored really easily unless it’s got lace or cables. Then I found a knitting machine for $10 in a thrift store and soon after my daughter-in-law gave me another one. Ta-dah! Socks now take 2 days instead of 2 weeks or more and sweater sleeves take maybe an hour each. Project Helen is happy and then there are all the Process Helen things to keep my hands busy away from the machines, which don’t travel too well. ?
Thought this was interesting. I too am both. I like variety in technique and projects. I do have the second sock issue so I always do the socks in tandem. I like to have at least 2 things going on at one time. One challenging and one simple. I can not multitask with a complicated pattern so I usually have a simple sweater or socks going on so I have something to work on in front of the TV, at a coffee outing with friends and a staff meeting. I do have a stash of those unstarted projects / patterns that I tell myself I can’t start until something is finished. Sad thing is my stash keeps growing.
I enjoyed reading your article.
I am a crocheter and I am trying to apply it to myself.
I think it applies to all crafts. Knitters simply mostly think of knitting first. It all depends on what your driving force is. Having the finished item, no matter how it was made. Or making something, no matter what. Or anything in between the two extremes.