Deciding what to make

I am a regular reader of Karen Templer’s site, Fringe Association, and I love her periodic series “Q For You.” She occasionally asks questions that stick with me, and this is one that I’ve thought about many times. How do you decide what to make? What drives the decision to actually cast on a project? Is it the desire for the finished thing, the desire to learn or use a new skill, the desire to use a stashed yarn? Is it a very considered choice, or is it more of a casual, impulsive one?

I’m a process knitter, without a doubt, which can sometimes lead to the creation of things that I will never wear or that are somewhat impractical. As you’ve heard me say many times, I only need so many pairs of socks, so many shawls/scarves/wraps, and so many sweaters, particularly here in the south. I tend to get caught up in the making, rather than considering what that finished object’s place will be in my wardrobe. I think this is why I prefer to knit for others- I feel most comfortable and personally productive when I have a couple projects on the needles, and making socks or dishcloths or hats or other small things for people I care about is a good way to continue knitting, in a productive manner, while not bogging myself down with the hard truth that I don’t need anything new in my wardrobe. I am a fast knitter, and I am a constant knitter, and that unfortunate combination means that I produce more crap than someone who approaches their crafting with more intention and contextual awareness. I make things based on what I have in my stash and what patterns catch my eye, rather than what I need.

This top, the Amors Arrow I made last year, is a prime example. I loved the experience of modifying the pattern, knitting it alongside my dear friend, and I actually think the finished product is quite cute. However, in nearly a year, yesterday was the very first time I wore it. I just didn’t think it was quite my color scheme, and the cut didn’t seem quite right, and it’s a weird weight for the sleeveless style. Could I have made it in a different color or with a different fiber to make it more appropriate for my style? Maybe, possibly, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of making it the way I did. Wearing it yesterday with cropped, wide-leg black pants made a perfectly stylish and comfortable outfit, and now that I’ve actually worn it, I’m a fan, but there’s no question that it was made on impulse rather than out of a considered plan.

Should I adjust my approach to crafting? Should I plan better, consider more, choose more wisely? I’m not sure that I can. I don’t think my brain works that way, particularly since I use knitting (and spinning, to a degree) as stress-relief, and as I finish one project I need to cast another on right away. I feel uncomfortable if I don’t have a couple things going at once, and so I knit whatever comes to mind.

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