I’ve been getting stuck into a pile of knitting projects lately. Knitting like the wind to meet deadlines.

In the haze of that kind of knitting, there’s plenty of time to think and I find myself wondering about the odd juxtaposition I find myself in. Am I still “relaxing with my hobby” when I’m flying through stitches to get something finished urgently?

We know instinctively that knitting relaxes us. The repetition of the stitches, the tactile experience of yarn running through our fingers, and the slow pace that we’re forced to adopt when we’re creating something one stitch at a time. Even knitting “at pace” is pretty jolly slow.

Lots of knitters complain of feeling out of sorts, unsettled or jumpy if they’ve gone too long without knitting. For me, knitting is usually both a relaxing activity and a trigger that it’s time to relax, and I crave it in my daily life to feel centred.

I’m sure most of you will have seen the New York Times article that went viral on the internet a while ago? It propounded the “health benefits” of knitting and included a long list of things that knitting has shown to be helpful for, from giving up smoking to anxiety. Stress relief and creative fulfilment were at the top of the list.

“Stress relief” refers to the calming-down properties that knitting brings and “creative fulfilment” to the results of the knitting process. Funnily enough, in knitting circles, we’ve traditionally seen these things as each belonging to a different type of knitter: “process knitters” and “project knitters”.

I don’t know about you, but the terms “process knitter” and “project knitter” have always left me feeling a bit confused. Where do I fit? I’ve heard knitters confidently proclaiming to be one or the other and I’ve often wondered which am I? Do I love the process better? The act of knitting; the repetitive motion of knitting one stitch after another; the challenge of working out a pattern and creating row after row? Or, do I enjoy knitting because I know I’m making a “thing”? Is finishing the objective for me? Do I get as much pleasure from wearing my knits as knitting them? Is the knitting part a means to an end?

I think my indecisiveness to plant a foot firmly in one camp over the other is because I am truly a bit of both. And, my feeling is that I’m not alone – some of you might be a bit of both too.

So what makes someone a “process knitter”? And, what makes them a “project knitter”?

PROCESS KNITTERS

  • love pouring through their stash, spending hours at their LYS or hunting online for yarn;
  • happily scroll through pages and pages of pattern ideas;
  • feel irrationally excited stumbling across a new technique;
  • turn the house upside down just to find the “perfect needles”;
  • find huge pleasure in matching their project bags to their knitting;
  • ritualise the act of casting on – perfect tea, comfy spot, no distractions … you get the picture …
  • are poly-wip-omous (lots of projects on the go);
  • frequently find unfinished projects behind the sofa, in cupboards or under the bed;
  • spend a lot of time holding their knitting out and admiring it;
  • feel a deep urge, at least once a day, to “just knit a couple of rows”;
  • visibly relax when they pick up their knitting, perhaps even sighing contentedly just a little.

PROJECT KNITTERS

  • frequently say “I’ll just finish this row” (this may be completely irrelevant but I do this);
  • are a little impulsive and may not always swatch …
  • knit with determination and knit everywhere and anywhere;
  • are monogamous knitters and feel overwhelmed with more than a couple of projects on the go;
  • get a thrill from learning to knit faster;
  • hunt for the next project, and plan which new pattern to cast on, before their last one is finished;
  • often look at their stash and say things like “life is too short!”;
  • finish or frog;
  • panic at the thought of yarn-chicken;
  • are irrationally excited by casting off the last stitch;
  • get a HUGE amount of pleasure from wearing their knits.

As I get closer to the end of my first project, I’m sensing a familiar elated-feeling returning. I know that after soaking and blocking, standing back, and admiring my finished shawl, I’ll wait with excitement. I love the freshly-dry shawl moment and flinging it around my shoulders to see how it falls.

Those things tell me that I’m a project knitter but, while it’s true I love a finished knit, there’s also something deeply satisfying about having a good long knit knitting every single day ;) It leaves me feel calmer, satisfied and grounded. So I feel the benefits of the process too.

Which are you? Process or project knitter? Or like me, are you a bit of both?

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