Product vs. Process

Through the years, I’ve found a recurring question within the fiber arts community: are you a product knitter or a process knitter? I’ve typically been quick to respond product– historically I tend to work on a project from start to finish with few breaks, and feel a sense of accomplishment with completing it.

Lately, though, I’ve been digging into designs through sketching on paper and sketching with yarn. It’s not quite like swatching, at least not in my own definition, as I’m purely experimenting with material, trying to understand its possibilities. Among other things, I’ve created a few projects start to finish – new designs – that I haven’t shared with anyone else. They’ve been simultaneously agonizing and meditative exercises of sorts, my own exploration with concept and material, each version building on the last.

My husband referred to these projects as the equivalent of a chef working in a test kitchen, and I like this analogy. Making for the love of making, for the love of exploring my own creative ideas without the need to solidify a final product… so does that make me a process knitter?

Oh another thing: I’m a bit of a saver. I keep notes, photos, books and trinkets that hold special meaning for me. Holding a keepsake in my hand immediately brings me back to a different time and place. Happy or sad, inspirational or depressing, these tangible pieces intrinsically link me to physical memories.

I’ve also been looking at my own knit wardrobe of garments and accessories, and my fiber collection, which consists of yarn, tools, bags and books. I waffle between inspiration and overload sifting through the items I’ve acquired through years of involvement in the craft.

I’ve shared the thought with friends – and maybe you’ve thought it too with your own crafts – that there is quite honestly not enough time to ever knit through all of the yarn I’ve acquired. And while this thought is overwhelming and deep, it’s also ok for me. Part of the memory of the yarn is the memory of collecting it. Was I on vacation and purchased a souvenir skein? Did I catch a special update? Is the yarn a gift? The memory of the physical thing holds value and meaning to me, just as some of my earlier knit pieces hold memories of the knitter I used to be. If and when I have a bad memory associated with something, be it a knit piece, or a book, or anything else in my life, I’m not afraid to get rid of it. At the same time, there’s value for me in keeping things that remind me of my former self, if that makes sense.

My identity is complex and steeped in memory. My physical surroundings are simultaneously organized and cluttered, and represent ME. I can be a product AND a process maker at the same time. There’s no need to have to choose exclusively one or the other.

The long road

Off the needles. Breathe out.

I’ve been working on versions of this design since “the before times”- first as a sketch idea in December 2019, then finally on the needles as of February 2020, after a particularly eye opening realization about trusting my gut with my designs. It’s been with me through emotional times, and also had its share of time outs as I process other elements of life.

I’m cautiously optimistic about today, though, as I’ve completed a 3rd sample, and had the opportunity to try the 2nd sample on folks earlier this summer, and create some needed modifications. The pattern needs some work, for sure, but then again, I’m proud to have made it this far. Thinking back to the optimism I felt the first day I started this design, and thinking of everything that’s come between then and now, I breathed a sigh of relief, as this finally feels right.

With this photo and this post, I remind myself that things take time. We’re all works in progress. And it’s ok.

Create with Me

I love asking for input on my knitwear designs. I recently gathered information on sizing for an upcoming design. I will update this page as the design continues to develop! If you are interested in a sneak peak, take a look at the video I created to explain sizing:

This is my first version of the design. It is an open ruana created with marled yarns. The title of this design is “Semantics”. Shana S. Cohen, 2020. All rights reserved.

Shanalines Designs on IGTV

I have been starting to share videos on my IGTV channel so you can see how to style some of my knitwear designs! Here is Moduloncho, a fingering weight modular poncho (get it?). I have loved knitting and wearing big shawls for a long time, and came up with this adaptable design to fit a range of bodies with the same amount of yarn. For me, it bridges the gap between shawl or accessory knitting and sweater knitting, which has a lot more places to fit. I share 3 different versions in this video.

And here is Wrapezoid! This trapezoid shaped wrap (I’m telling you, I thoroughly enjoy making up words) is knit with fingering weight yarns held double OR with DK weight yarn. I came up with this idea after looking at elementary school geometry lessons. It fits the bill for my design strategy as it can be styled in multiple ways. I share 2 different versions in this video.

While we can read the suggested pattern gauge and yarn for a design, I do think it is helpful to see how the knit fabric moves in a design. I plan to continue sharing these videos of my other designs. And yes, I’m aware that I pointed to the wrong corner to indicate the Linktree link. Hush.

Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see when I share designs!