Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I have heard that we knitters are supposed to, generally speaking, fall into one of two categories: process knitters and product knitters. (I feel like I should have a citation here, a sure sign that I've been reading too many academic articles lately.)(But just in case you want one, I could cite a couple of the Yarn Harlot's books to support my assertion, I'm sure.)

I am, however, an odd duck. Or schizophrenic, take your pick (I prefer the former, it sounds so much more friendly). My attitude towards my knitting varies, depending on the project, and I often find a way to incorporate both a process and a product bent into one project. Case in point: the Hip in Hemp skirt.

I am knitting this in a single color, and in an adult size (rather than the striped children's size shown in the picture, which, though cute, probably wouldn't flatter me at all). So here's the thing. I didn't really swatch. I knit the waistband and checked my gauge, more or less, and as it looked more or less right, I kept right on going. As I've been knitting, I have been keeping an eye on the skirt to see whether its proportions are turning out to look anything like something that might realistically fit someone like me. My general theory has been that, if it's too small, it'll go to Older Daughter. The chances of it being so oversized that it will be unwearable are slim, so I haven't worried too much about that. I like the look of the fabric on these needles, so all is well.

I find myself knitting exclusively on this skirt, as I'm dying to see how it turns out on so many levels. I'd like to know if it's going to fit. I'm wondering how the fabric will feel once I've washed it (this is my first time knitting with hemp -- I'm enjoying it quite a bit more than I'd expected -- and I've heard it washes up a dream). I'm wondering whether it'll be so see-through I'll need to put together some kind of light cotton lining underneath. I'm wondering whether a knitted skirt, even if it fits, will be at all flattering on someone who is, shall we say, a bit zaftig. Or, even if it looks good, how I will like the hang of it, as it will have some weight to it. In other words, I'm knitting this thing the way I read a fun mystery/thriller/plot-driven novel -- I'm dying to see how it turns out.

I'm not sure what to call this approach to knitting. I am aware that a number of people would call it insane. I mean, really. Swatching would answer so many of these questions. As would taking a really formal set of measurements of me, and comparing them to the measurements on the pattern (as opposed to a more loose slapping of the tape measure around the hip region -- my widest bit -- and calling it a day).

I feel about knitting this the way I've felt about knitting a few other projects that I've done. I just want to knit it. I want to have done it. I would like for it to be something I can and will wear, but frankly, I have no idea whether I'll wear a knit skirt until I have a knit skirt. And if I don't end up liking it, I'm not worried; I have an optional recipient should it be too small, so it's not like it's wasted knitting (is there such a thing?). I'm not sure even that explains my attitude towards this project. It's a forward momentum sort of thing; damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. Or something. Is there a name for this? Kamikaze knitting? Insanity? On the one hand, it feels definitional of process knitting, except that I'm dying to see how it turns out, which is not very processual at all. It's good fun, either way.

As I'm working outside (just got the carpets cleaned -- finally!! -- and am trying to keep me and, more importantly, the dogs, off of them until they've had a chance to dry somewhat), I don't have any camera except the one in my computer, which, given the sunlight, isn't producing the best shots, but I did want to provide you with some evidence that I am achieving some kind of progress on the skirt. (That was all one sentence, are you impressed?)(It's grammatical, I promise; I'm pretty sure I could even diagram it.) So here's one.
I know. It looks more like one of those overexposed, it really is a flying saucer doncha see it?, shots than anything else. It doesn't convey the lovely navy blue character of this yarn, or the fact that I'm 41 rows into a 137-row project. Not too bad, eh? Of course, as happens with an a-line skirt knit from the top down, the rows get longer as I go on, but not too dramatically longer. They're also nicely spaced. One pattern row, and then three knitted rows. One pattern row, three knitted rows (I love knitting in the round). So it's easy to get myself to do one of those four-row repeats, and I only have to concentrate on the first row. Nice.

OK, while I feel like a bad Andi McDowell impersonator when I say this, don't hate me because I didn't swatch. It's apparently my nature as a knitter not to. (Hence the almost pathological preference for objects whose final size has some leeway to it.) I may pay large on this one. Of course, I may not.

Stay tuned for next time, when Our Heroine tries to decide whether the thirteen balls of yarn she bought will be enough to finish. Will she make it? Will she run out? Only time will tell.


Anne said...

I want to see you diagram that sentence.

And I am waiting with bated breath for the next episode of (duh duh duh DUH) the Hemp Skirt!

That blue is gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see that sentence diagrammed myself.

Your knitting sounds like a hybrid of both process and product knitting - with a little daredevil tossed in. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Poor Tillie! Is she having a better week now?

Shirley Goodwin said...

Oh dear, I just KNIT, I've never for one second considered if it's process or product. And I don't swatch!

Bea said...

I like your method of knitting. Especially since you mostly want to knit it and the finished product will be enjoyed by someone! I think it is looking lovely by the way!

I'm with Anne on the diagramming. I've never myself diagrammed a sentence and couldn't if I tried, but I'd like to see you do it :)

Anonymous said...

Hehehe,,, nice thriller!

I don't think you are an odd duck at all, I am the same! not that it proves the first part of my sentence,,,

But can you please explain what is your problem with swatching?

Anonymous said...

I think you are a blind empiricist knitter - you find out if it will work by trying it out. The blind refers to lack of swatching. If you swatched, you'd just be an empiricist.

You daredevil!

Anonymous said...

biting nails....

EGunn said...

I love it! This is one of those "dance like no one is watching" things for me. It's like cooking; you can get all fussy and measure and read cookbooks and all that, or you can just throw things in and see how it comes out. While the former is probably safer, the latter is so much fun! And really, I think everyone is a mix of product and process knitter; it's the ratio that matters! I'll be excited to see how your little adventure turns out. =)

Nana Sadie said...

How about "A Leap of Faith" knitter? (kamikaze knitter really does sound crazed and you aren't - you have reason to believe that what you're doing will work, trial and error over years of knitting...ad nauseum!)

I want to see the sentence diagrammed, but I'll add, that I had a professor once in my qualitative methods coursework who stressed that if something is important enough to say, then I should just drop the parantheses and say it in a separate sentence (don't go visit my blog, you'll see I never took her advice!)...oh heck...you don't need to go to the blog, just look at this comment!
I'm waiting to see the results! But frankly? I would not knit a skirt without the plan of lining it with a structurally sturdy fabric - even if the yarn IS hemp! But that's coming from someone who is more than "a bit zaftig!"

Alwen said...

Most of the time, my first attempts turn out to be my inadvertent swatches.

Willow said...

Research oriented.

And only someone who has a number of linguistic classes under her belt and actually learned to diagram sentences would go back to that sentence and 1) check to make sure it's grammatical (it is) and 2) try to diagram the sentence in her head. I made it to 'which' and I can't remember how diagram that.

I am very interested (intensely curious) to find out how the hemp skirt turns out. I'd love to knit/own/wear one.

Yes, Yarn Harlot is a good source as is Mason Dixon Knitting. I love them both (all, b/c MDK is tow people).

Willow said...

And I see that I'm a process typer and don't check my work. Should read 'to diagram' and 'two people'.

Rachael said...

I don't think it's odd at all. For me, lace is process knitting but the sweater I'm working on is product knitting. I knit lace b/c it's beautiful and I love watching it come alive as I go - I knit sweaters b/c it's cute and I want to wear it!!

And really, what's better than that moment before you put the FO on for the first time and it still has the possibility to be everything you dream it will be.

Maybe you'll have the skirt done by next week and I'll get to see it!

Anonymous said...

You're inspiring. That skirt is inspiring. I just clicked over to WEBS and was inspired some more. :-) Whether or not I take the plunge remains to be witnessed.

Diagramming... My fourth grade teacher made a game and an art of sentence skeletons. We really did think of it as a game -- almost as good as hangman.:-) Didn't see another diagram, nor did I know it was called diagramming, until confronted by it in college English, by a teacher who turned what had been a game into methodical dust.