Confession of a Process Knitter

KnitcircusNov 2, '15


Everyone knows there are two kinds of knitters, the Process Knitter (who chooses projects based on what she wants to learn) and the Product Knitter (who chooses projects based on what she wants to wear or gift). Of course, we all cross from one to the other depending on the needs of the project. If it’s gift season, we may knit six pairs of Susan B. Anderson’s Waiting for Winter Mittens to give as presents to all of our cousins, then on December 26th cast on a Crazed Scandinavian Cowl because we want to see if we can handle that much colorwork.

When I first started knitting in 2004, there weren’t all that many knitting patterns. I remember staring fascinated at the Lady Eleanor entrelac shawl, because I’d never seen anything like it and couldn’t imagine how it was worked. You had to find patterns in print magazines or books from the library and my Interweave Knits collection was a treasure to keep and protect. So, once I got the basics, I began experimenting with my own patterns to try to get the shapes I wanted or to stretch my fledgling lace skills.

With the internet now, and the wonder that is Ravelry, we have access to every known knitting pattern (373,061 and counting). You Tube tutorials instantly show you how to work entrelac or any other technique. And we have wonderful designers like Laura Nelkin, Susan B Anderson, Veronik Avery, Kate Davies, Kirsten Kapur, Ysolda Teague and so many more creating beautifully written, edited, tested and photographed patterns every day. Why would we ever need or want to come up with something else, when we have everything at our fingertips?

This question has made me feel guilty as a knitter and a designer. I enjoy creating patterns and love when knitters make them, but let’s be honest, mine are never going to be on the level of a Nora Gaughan . Why should I strike out on my own when I’ve never knit an Owls, or even a Clapotis? I want to respect other designers by knitting their projects, and sometimes I get there. I’ve knit Waiting for Winter and a Zuzu’s Petals,Turn a Square, Dashing, many Mini Mochimochi.…When it’s kid baseball season and I have time but not attention, I love tried-and-true patterns like Wendy Johnson’s Toe-Up sock or the beloved Hitchhiker.


But the truth is, when I get a little precious space to really knit, not just pass the time, I run through everything on Ravelry and it’s not quite right. I want that shape, but a different gauge, and without buttons, and I want to try this kind of increase, and instead of stockinette, I want a lace. Or maybe a diagonal textured pattern. Or I could combine a texture and a lace. And maybe I want it to be reversible….

The truth is, I want the process. I love the steps, from looking through several stitch dictionaries and placing bookmarks to winnowing down to three different stitch patterns, to swatching them and finding the one I like, only swapping out stockinette for yo/k2tog every fourth row. Then it’s time to cast on the wrong number of stitches for the neck opening and rip it out and finally find the right number that works with the repeat and has the right amount of structure. Next, I try a different needle and finally get the drape the way I want it. Then I adjust the lace pattern for more stitches…

When I finally bind off, this project has done what I wanted it to do. I know a little bit more about knitting and solved the challenges I set for myself. It may not be the next Central Park Hoodie, or even worth publishing to the world, so I’ll leave that to the pros. I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Keep on knitting,


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