I started a new sweater last weekend. I had received some nice, smooth dark purple wool as a gift, enough to make a pullover for the current afghans For Afghans campaign. The yarn has great stitch definition but it is also a dark colorway that wouldn't really show off textured stitches to their best advantage, as I found out while playing with swatches. I have this fantasy of knitting at least one pattern from every book or magazine I own, so I spent some time browsing through a lot of pages in search of the Right One. It never materialized, so I decided on an old favorite that I had knitted a couple of times.
After about one hour of knitting, I was bored. I went on for two more days, but my heart wasn't in it.
So I took a break from monogamy; I picked up a skein of Kureyon, a skein of Berocco Peruvia, and I knitted this:
Kay Gardiner's Mitered Crosses for Japan. So nifty. So Noro. So addictive.
While I was building up the four squares that make up this larger one, I thought about how much I can get caught up in "product" versus "process" knitting at times. In the past few years I have been a bit too focused on using up stash yarns, to the point of churning out items in a way that had more to do with obsessiveness than with the pleasure of relaxing with needles and yarn. It is a fine line for me. On occasion, the nothing-but-stash rule actually leads me to a project that is both challenging and fun. But too often these days I don't take the time to think out the project first. I jump in fast and repeat a previous knitting experience that will work but not really surprise me or stretch my creative or knitting ability, or even simply keep me entertained throughout.
It isn't that I mind a bit of "automatic pilot" knitting. On the contrary, there are times where I absolutely need that simple comfort the way my oldest daughter relied on her security blanket as a toddler -- that very primitive feeling of soft wool moving fast between my fingers. And in a way, the 20 squares or so that I hope to turn out for the mitered crosses blanket will be just that -- fairly mindless garter stitch. The thrill is in the way the colors will be combined and with Noro Kureyon, that too will take care of itself.
Rather, the purely-product projects feel like a page out of a coloring book, while the take-your-time, make-the-pattern-yours projects require me to define the shape and fill it in at the same time. Now, I do like to follow a good pattern, but I need to figure out ways to make it my own in order to keep the game more fun. Right now, I am on the fence about the purple sweater. I may go on and start striping it with other colors. Or I may frog it and go with a pattern that is new to me. Decisions... At first it felt ridiculous to frog eight full inches of a sweater's body. But just giving myself permission to start fresh feels really good. Which is and should always be the point.