In my many years as a knitter and yarn shop owner I have come to realize that every knitter falls into one category or the other. I know, you can’t always generalize, that there are certainly knitters who fall into the gray area between the two groups. Choosing just the right pattern and finding the perfect yarn are common denominators in either group, it’s what happens next that defines the true/core type. Process knitter or project knitter. I define a process knitter as one who subconsciously is not strongly driven to produce a finished garment, although there is always the belief at the start that it will be completed, and timely at that. For sure this won’t be another unfinished discard. As a process knitter myself, who has been knitting for almost as many years as I’ve been alive, I invariably believe that the project I’m so excited to start will be finished before I know it. Unfortunately, this knitter (me) can become thoroughly caught up in the challenge of deciphering a complicated pattern, maybe modifying it along the way, ripping back and redoing, changing a color – all for the joy of doing. Easily distracted by the next best thing to knit, the works-in-progress can really pile up. Don’t look in my closet.
By my definition, a project knitter is one who is motivated most strongly by the end result. The finished project. This knitter works diligently to the finish line, easily able to resist the temptation of beginning a new project until the last tail is woven in. There is always a next project in the wings waiting its turn. For this type, it defies understanding how one could have numerous items in the works. No bags or baskets of unfinished and abandoned projects for this knitter! An added bonus for the project knitter – as if a new sweater or a pair of socks isn’t enough – all needles are accounted for since they’re not buried and forgotten in aging projects.
Yes, I proudly declare, without excuses or apologies, that I am a process knitter. Stepping off my pedestal, I’m truly embarrassed to admit what I’m about to write. My most recent confirmation of this fact that I’m a process knitter, is the overflowing basket of half finished sweaters for 6 month old grandson, Jack. Oh yes, I started out with the best of intentions to finish these sweaters long before Jack was born. I carefully chose the patterns, the yarn and supplies for each, stored them neatly in their own little project bags then packed them in my suitcase to be finished on my January trip to Spain. I’m sure you can guess what happened. Yup. They’re still packed in their pretty little project bags in various stages of completion.
Thankfully I chose to knit them in a larger size (I know myself fairly well) so there is still time. I hope. Fortunately my daughter Leigh, Jack’s mother, understands me and how I work. This is extra nice since she is a project knitter at heart. Note that Jack has many completed items that she created.
The truth is that with the birth of Jack I was inspired to design a collection of baby hats and off I went in that direction. I have about dozen in the works to date and true to form they are at various stages in the design process right along side of Jack’s basket of unfinished sweaters. The good news? Eventually I do finish almost everything I start even if it’s not on the original timetable I’d envisioned.
There is a moral to my story. If you are a project knitter keep right on churning out those garments – your friends and family will love you for it. If you are a process knitter with piles of unfinished projects, don’t let feelings of guilt and embarrassment over unfinished business stand in the way. Embrace your style and knit on!
As you know, I own Far North Yarn Co. (FNYC), my yarn shop in Anchorage, Alaska. You’d think that the only lessons to be learned in a yarn shop would be related to knitting or crochet. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. Of course we have our regularly scheduled classes, informal fix-it sessions and and the run of the mill daily pattern and project questions and answers. All the predictable and expected instruction. But it’s so much more than that. If you are lucky enough to have a LYS, this should not come as a surprise.
I’m of the opinion that the best knit shops have at least one seating area, whether that’s a table with chairs crowded around, or mismatched cushy chairs and a couch. I’d like to think I have one of the best. Not to boast, but FNYC is a fun place be. It’s not that my chairs are that comfortable or my tables so great, it’s that it’s full of laughter, chatter, sometimes a few tears – an overall good time. Coffee, snacks, or lunch all around. Yet it is here, with all of the clutter and visual chaos, some real life lessons are learned. Not just the expected knitting related stuff. At this table with its jumble of chairs and assorted knitters, coffee cups, discarded lunch containers, where I have been considered the teacher, I find that more often than not, am the one with a lesson to be learned.
Probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) is tolerance. I have always sought to create a welcoming environment in my shop, open to anyone who shares the passion. I have very few “rules” which of course are not posted – with the exception of the one that says “As a courtesy, please step away from the table when making or receiving calls.” Hard to believe you have to remind people of that courtesy, isn’t it? My rules are simple. No deep political or religious discussions, and unkind behavior toward others is never tolerated. That doesn’t mean uncomfortable situations don’t arise on occasion but it is my duty to redirect conversation in healthier directions or gently call people out if something unkind or hurtful is said. Because I’m not always at the table, it’s really wonderful to see other knitters step into that role, changing the subject when appropriate, or saying just the right words to remind others to simply be kind. We all share the responsibility of keeping our knitting haven a safe haven. It’s a very interesting dynamic.
Personally, am I ever annoyed by certain individuals now and then? Of course I am! I’m human after all. And each time I am, I consider it my little refresher course in tolerance. Would I choose to spend quality time outside of the shop socializing with each and every person who sits at the FNYC table? More than likely not, nor would anyone else sitting at the table choose to go out to lunch with the entire FNYC knitting community. However, here we all are, at the Far North table sharing our passion for knitting and bits and pieces of our lives. Do we each take a turn (some of us more turns than we should be allowed) at being annoying in some way? Talking too loud, complaining too much , repeating a story, showing yet another picture of the new grandchild (me!)…we’ve all been guilty. But we are brought together here by a common passion and we must continue to be tolerant of each other. It’s the way of the world, and of FNYC.
Over time I will invite guest bloggers from my shop to share their lessons learned at FNYC.I don’t doubt that you’ll identify with many of their experiences.