As I inched towards the conclusion of the stockinette portion of my latest summer creation and an upcoming design, the Wayfarer Tee - the second entry in my Wayfarer Collection - knitted in Knitting for Olive's Cotton Merino fingering-weight yarn, I found myself revisiting the enduring question of process versus product knitting.
I couldn't help but draw a comparison to my most recent design that is currently undergoing testing. Knitting the sample of my previous design, the Summerwood Tee, felt in stark contrast to the slightly lackluster feel of my current undertaking. The joyful, intuitive lace pattern used there, paired with the rustic, squishy fingering-weight Wooldreamers Saona yarn, ensured that the tee, despite also being fingering-weight knit on a small circumference 2.5mm needle, flew off my needles.
I wonder, does this sentiment resonate with other knitters? Can we truly find joy in the intricate dance of sleek, summery fingering weight yarns on such tiny needles, their slippery nature adding an extra challenge? Or, is the end product our shared objective? Can knitting consistently bring joy, even for the average knitter, and should it?
And then, there's the consideration of the yarn itself. I need to clarify here: the Knitting for Olive (KFO) yarns are indeed amazing - they're a staple for me and I love them all, this one included. Is it permissible to sometimes knit with beautiful, high-quality yet potentially tricky yarns, knowing that they may not offer the most enjoyable knitting experience, but will ultimately yield a stunning finished piece – a staple in your wardrobe?
After all, most of us likely own more DK or worsted weight sweaters than we could ever wear. So, isn't there a certain charm in occasionally pushing our boundaries?
As I navigated each stitch, these questions echoed in my mind. What if there were no pressing, seasonally imposed deadline? Might I have slowed down, swapping my trusty metal needles for wooden ones to counter the slick yarn? Could savoring each stitch, embracing the seemingly infinite aspect of knitting a garment of such fine gauge, have enhanced my enjoyment of the process by eliminating concerns about speed?
For hobby knitters, I envision this as a lightweight, portable project to enjoy throughout the summer or spring. Naturally, you'd want to wear it this summer, right? But perhaps that's not the focal point. It could be worn next summer, passed on, or remain unfinished when you've had enough of this particular knitting experience.
Upon releasing this pattern, I wonder if you'll choose to knit it for the sheer enjoyment of the process. Is it a double standard for me to promote it as a relaxing or fun knit, even if I didn't find it to be so, with my gaze constantly on the receding finish line?
These questions are challenging for me to answer. As a designer, my focus extends beyond my personal enjoyment, in this case also aiming at creating a knitting pattern for a versatile, wearable wardrobe staple for you, such as this simple, timeless little knitted t-shirt design.
As I bound off the remaining stitches on the cuff of the sleeves, with only a few ends left to weave in, I put it on for the final fit check and there it was. My first thought was - it looks almost store-bought, which is the ultimate compliment for a garment like this. No, it does not really look like it was homemade unless you look very closely and, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the handmade look - that often brings its own charm - it would have been undesired here. And it is because of this yarn - knit in a very small gauge, creating an absolutely stunning soft, lightweight fabric with a beautiful, subtle drape - it truly was everything I'd hoped for.
And, of course, I knew it would be - once I saw it through the end of a million tiny, tricky stitches. The Wayfarer Tee, in all its understated glory, is the perfect infinitely wearable wardrobe staple, and I can't help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, more so because I powered through for a worthy goal.
And it was worth it. I already know that this will get a ton of wear, just like its sweater counterparts - both of my Wayfarer Raglans have been worn to death. This is just me - an understated, simple garment in a neutral colorway. With a close fit of a few cm (or zero as I chose to knit it) positive ease, it is the perfect base layer to wear under its sweater counterpart or any other mid layer. And despite finding the process a bit of a slog somewhere between the last raglan decreases and knitting of the body, I find myself wanting to cast on yet another one - something that I have no business doing really, as I have a million projects queued up begging for attention. The end result was worth it and I realize that the slower pace hasn't discouraged me nor cured me of my curiosity for fingering weight summer knits. In a different world where that wasn't the case, I would add at least three more to my wardrobe. And I am quietly hoping you, the knitter, will feel the same.
So ultimately, the question of whether I enjoy the process becomes somewhat irrelevant. Perhaps you'll knit it for the inherent joy of knitting, or maybe you too will have the end goal in mind to add this timeless knit to your wardrobe.
However, this project has served as a reminder that experiencing tons of fun while knitting samples as a designer is a luxury, rather than a given. If I restricted myself to my preferred needle sizes and yarn weights, as well as techniques within my comfort zone, my range of design options - and subsequently, the variety of knitting pattern designs I could offer you - would be significantly limited. So, with this in mind, I'll simply cherish the next time I find pure joy in knitting my own design all the more.