I’ve now knitted about 6″ of one sleeve and 5″ of another on this Fair Isle sweater, and am finding it verrry slow going. Mostly it’s that I’m not used to knitting English-style, and unfortunately the mechanics of Fair Isle knitting forces me to do most of my knitting with the right-hand yarn. (The left-hand yarn has bigger stitches than the right-hand yarn, so should really be used for the main color. That leaves the right hand doing the background, which unfortunately is most of the stitches.)
Anyway, I’m doing it, but it’s taking intense concentration and I find I can only knit a few rows at a time. I’m working at it, though, and my right-hand knitting is definitely improving. It’s just verrrrrrry slow.
(1) enjoying the process
(2) wanting the end product
(3) exploration, trying something new
(4) personally meaningful
The four aren’t mutually exclusive, of course, and most things are a combination of both, but it does solve the long-nagging question (for me) of why spinners behave the way they do, collecting way more fiber than they’ll ever use, starting projects they’ll never finish, doing things that are monumentally inefficient, and so on. (Lest anyone take that the wrong way, I do the same things myself. 🙂 ) It also answers the question–for me anyway–about UFOs, those unfinished objects left in the closet. They’re the end result of an exploration that never quite made the grade on the other three categories–so, after the novelty value wore off, it wasn’t worth doing.
To me that means that being clear about why you’re doing something allows for a lot less guilt. Exploration is wasteful. Exploration (in its extreme form) means trying a little bit of everything and discarding an awful lot of things, because you’re basically engaged in tourism. You don’t want the end product, you want to play with this new idea–after the idea has been mined out, you move on because it isn’t interesting anymore. So exploratory projects are, in some sense, meant to be abandoned–if your purpose is exploration.
In my case, with the exception of one or two very long-term projects, I’m an explorer. I tend to start a lot of projects and not finish most of them, because they’re of intellectual interest only. (This is also why I wind up knowing a little bit about an awful lot of topics–I try a LOT of different things.) Lately I’ve gotten more ruthless about tossing out those UFOs, because I understand that the reason I started them was to explore an area and the exploration’s done. This is wasteful if you think of it in terms of an end product, but makes perfect sense in terms of learning. To spend more time on something than it takes to learn it is a waste of educational time.
All of which is just a rationalization for my behavior, of course, but I like to know why I do the things I do.
I also think the four reasons are good to think about for other things, like work and why you do it. But that’s another story.