Soon after I began knitting, I discovered the concept of a "process knitter" versus a "product knitter." For most of my knitting years, I was firmly in the camp of product; I knit because I wanted the hat or sweater or shawl. This year marks 20 years of knitting, and I have more than outfit myself and my family in knitted accessories of all sorts. My sock drawer is at capacity, and even though I have slowed down my production somewhat, I have no plans to stop knitting. Similarly, I have a closet full of handmade quilts that exceeds the number of potential beds and people to cover by quite a lot.
Now, I knit because I want to knit, and quilt if I want to quilt. I suppose that I'm slowly moving into the process camp; the act of making is more important than the product. I now choose projects based on what I want to achieve through the making. Sometimes, it's a plain sock to keep my hands busy, or because it's small and I'm traveling. Other times, I want more of a mental workout, and pick something with a chart or a technique I haven't tried before.
Yet, I'm still not there. I still follow patterns and don't take many risks. I still care if the finished project looks good enough to enter into the county fair or publish on Instagram. I need an output to prove that my time was not wasted. This is particularly true now, when I have so little "free" time.
Last summer I took an art journaling class. I hadn't taken an art class since college, and art journaling is something I've been interested in but never really started. The class itself was disappointing, since the instructor taught us how to reproduce her own work instead of encouraging us to develop our own style. But, it did spark something (and a minor hoarding of art supplies) and I have kept up with it. If anything, it has highlighted my tendency towards a usable (in this case, photogenic) finished product.
I have reached a point where I don't need anything, and I want to start experimenting. Part of this is embracing failure, and another is accepting that time spent playing is not wasted. I haven't fully realized what this means in practice, but it's something that I am keeping in mind as it gets warmer and I am motivated to get out from under my couch blanket.
This post will have a time stamp of March 17, 2020, and it would be odd not to mention that the world is in an unprecedented situation with the coronavirus. I am at home like most of the world, hoping that this all ends sooner rather than later, and eager to look back and reflect on how we all got through it. Making is an outlet for a lot of us during times of stress and I'm happy to have this coping mechanism!