Q for You: What’s your favorite step of the process?

Q for You: What's your favorite step of the making process?

While watching the Iowa results on Monday night I declared my own small victory, binding off Bob’s sweater. (Which fits like a dream.) First thing Tuesday morning it went onto the blocking board, and by afternoon I was happily plotting out my black raglan. You know, taking measurements, doing calculations, drawing my funny little cast-on diagram I always draw for every top-down. Cast-on-itis is clearly a thing with knitters — we all love to start new projects (some of us too much) — but I think my favorite step is actually the one before cast-on, or before cutting into fabric. I love love love the planning, from sketches or pattern research to yarn/material selection, working out sizing, the whole enchilada. Of course, I also love casting on, but nothing gives me quite the same creative buzz as the planning phase. So that’s my Q for You today: What’s your favorite step of the process — from dreaming through wearing — and why?

(My used and abused Knitters Graph Paper Journal, Fashionary sketch paper and Bento Bag are all, of course, from Fringe Supply Co. The heathered black Lettlopi Icelandic yarn I bought from Tolt.)


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66 thoughts on “Q for You: What’s your favorite step of the process?

  1. I do love that moment when I ceremoniously place the photocopy or printout of the pattern that I have been using into the recycling. Maybe not my favourite moment, but one that I certainly get a kick out of.

  2. I love it all, but planning is my most loved step. I am a planner, and I spend far more time planning what I am knitting than I do actually knitting the item. But that is also true in all aspects of my life. Planning is my life.

  3. I agree planning a project is my favorite but i tend to go over board. I think of tons of ideas with a particular theme in mind. Then the hard part of deciding just which one to use. I will put my two cents in that i hate swatching and weaving in ends. just had to mention my least favorite as well.

  4. My favorite step is when I’ve knitted just enough that the project starts to gel. I ahve enough stitches on the needles that the knitting becomes normal, the stitch pattern starts to make sense, I can step away from the instructions for a while and/or it starts to actually look like something.

    Idea generation is great fun, but the planning is tedious and casting on is torture. But then I always liked the second week of school better than the first :)

    • True, I always feel a little bit bored and impatient until the moment when the thing starts to look like a thing — especially the moment a bunch of knitting starts to look like a sweater.

  5. The first row of a new pattern is pretty special for me. You’ve got row after row of fun ahead of you, the pleasure of seeing the garment take shape, and nothing has gone wrong… yet….

  6. puzzling out the more difficult sections of a pattern – love the “aha” moment, when the words from the pattern sync up with my brain and everything makes sense again.

  7. I love how you plan. I start by circling the sizes throughout the pattern, but have no idea how to adjust, plan and design. I would love a course to learn how to design my own sweater! I do adore the cast-on phase, and currently have two sweaters cast-on at once. One slow project, and one quick one so that when the one gets boring, I can move to the other. (I have a problem… :)

  8. Congrats on finishing Bob’s sweater! I saw your plan for your short sleeves black raglan and remembered a red one I had just like that that I used to wear all the time and really wanted one too. Then I realised that the Agnes I was knitting just needed short sleeves and no pockets and hey presto! Now I need another agnes with all the features :) I love learning new things when I knit, so the next learning challenge is always the most gratifying part. love your blog!

  9. I’m not much of a planner. I like to dive right in. I think my favorite part is watching the pattern emerge after a few inches of knitting, especially when doing cables. It seems like magic. I also like blocking. I love it when my kind of crinkly wadded up piece of knitting gets a bath and becomes an orderly thing of beauty. Transformation is my thing.

  10. My favorite part of the process is when I’ve gotten about half way. I have the gratification of being half-way there, but also the relief that it will not be done too soon. What I mean by that is I’ve realized I really like having a long-term knitting project that I can always pick up and work on. It’s always there when I have a moment to spare. It is so satisfying even to get just a row or two done. I like being able to always have something I’m working towards. I guess I just really enjoy what knitting is – it’s a process, not a product to me. As I mentioned yesterday, I am knitting my first sweater and enjoying it so much that I think I might even be kind of sad when I actually finish it.

    • I’m betting the triumph of finishing your first sweater will outweigh the wistfulness! But I wish I weren’t always rushing through things, either.

  11. No question, it’s binding off the last stitch. Perhaps because I always have so many things going, and a few hibernating projects. There’s a great satisfaction in getting something off the needles.

    I’m not much of a planner, but every year in June or so I start thinking in earnest about what to enter in the MN State Fair. There are a lot of categories but the competition is insanely fierce. I look at what I’ve made so far in the year and almost always cast on a quickie project or two to enter by the August deadline. The prizes are laughable- blue ribbons net you $8 or $10 or something, but the bragging rights are priceless. :)

    • That sense of satisfaction is so important, to me at least. If I’m not finishing things, it all starts to feel like quicksand or something. I nearly cried with joy/relief when I bound off the last stitch of Bob’s sweater, largely because it had been so long since my last finish.

  12. I love knitting the yoke of a top down sweater…seeing grow from a pile of wool into a recognizable garment that someone will wear with love always gives me a kick. It’s magical for me.

  13. I know the final product is NOT the most exciting part for me, because I always bog down near the end of a project, not from boredom, but I just don’t want it to end! I would have to say the process is my favorite part.

  14. picking yarn!!!!! I love going to my LYS for yarn for a new project. that said, by that point, I’ve already done hours of research for the perfect yarn – comparing yarns of the project on ravelry, researching yarn companies and fiber content, looking at the recommended yarn. I also love squishing multiple skeins of yarn in my hands and picking the right color (whether it’s for me or for someone else).

    my second favorite (and this only happens with big projects) is when you look down and you’re like “hmm I thought I had more of this done” and then you marathon knit and lose track of time and the next day you’re like “hot damn! I’m almost done!!!”

  15. I think I enjoy the “browsing Ravelry and updating my queue” part the most, as that’s what I spend so much time doing. :) I used to feel it was time wasted not knitting, but I reframed it as- it makes me happy to compare notes with others on things I enjoy, so there.
    In the end, though, I am a process knitter. I like learning new things and trying challenging lace and cables. I normally am proud of things I’ve knit, but mostly there’s something a little “off” that makes it impossible to enjoy at 100%. In the last couple of years (thanks to this and similar blogs) I’ve really started to understand how to plan and to become a FO celebrator, as well. I recently ripped a half-knit sweater that I just knew was going to take more mods than it would be worth to make a new one, which only now needs the collar to be finished. I am so close and I think I will like it more than most things I’ve made in the last few years. Intentional knitting at its finest.

  16. I think I love the research part of the project the best. Most times it leads me down such a rabbit hole that I never get to the actual making part ;-)
    Fidra Hat made me want to know the origin of pom poms. Learned that they are actually inspired by Georgian and Regency era military costumes. So cool!

  17. Seeing the pattern start to take form is my favourite part. Of course I’m always excited by the planning and starting a new project; but to see it actually coming together in my hands and know that I am creating this beautiful thing…it’s such a wonderful feeling. :-)

  18. Definitely the planning! Or finding a great pattern and searching for the right yarn, either in stash or (sorry to say) from a store. But I take my time and enjoy the looking, also because living in Italy not every yarn is readily available to me so I have to do a lot of online browsing and thinking about substitutions.

  19. My favorite part has to do with details. I like relatively simple shapes and designs, but with unusual steps and detailing. Doubled collars, tubular cast ons, visible shaping, neat bands and buttonholes, pockets, the right hem … really exploring (and often modifying) these details until they are just right. I have grown to love this so much that I find myself pulling finished sweaters out of my closet for revamping.

  20. What a fun question. I think my answer would be different depending on different seasons… But right now I think my answer is the “bulk” of the knitting…. You know, the length of the sweater, the endless stockinette, etc… In those times, after we put the baby to bed, my husband and I (he is also a hobbyist, painting models) hunker down on the couch and netflix binge/create with each other. We call them knit’n paint nights. ;) Right now I think THAT is my favorite part of the process.

  21. This might sound a little silly, but my favorite part of the process is – the knitting! Planning can overwhelm me. Finishing is fine, but sometimes I don’t like knowing I have to go through the whole process of choosing something new and hoping the pattern and yarn are a good match. but the knitting? The knitting is great. I can rely on that.

  22. I love seeing it take form on the needles and become a recognizable thing. It is one reason I LOVE top down projects. I even weave in the ends as I go so that it looks finished as I go. Is that crazy??? I also love blocking day. I feel like a maker when I see the product done! However, I spent hours in the rabbit hole of Ravelry and blogs with links like yours! Lovely hours…

  23. I love mulling over a new pattern on Ravelry. Checking all the details, thinking of the yarns I could use. Visiting completed projects to see how the item turned out for other knitters. Then the thrill of casting on! My favorite part is being in the possibility of the new piece. Once its cast on, knitting is wonderfully relaxing and its fun to watch it unfold but that first part is definitely the “thrill” part. As a result, I tend to have a number of started projects from simple to complex, depending on my mood or situation. They all eventually get finished but sometimes I have to push myself once that “thrill” is gone.

  24. My favorite part is the knitting. just knitting. getting so lost in the rhythm of the stitches or the repeats of a good lace chart that I forget about the world around me. I also tend to lose count, knit past my increase row or forget something else when I get too into it, but it’s nice to have those moments of bliss.

  25. I know many will gasp at this, but I love seaming! The challenge of getting a beautiful seam, combined with the satisfaction of really seeing the piece “come together” (ha!) makes me smile. I also love being in the middle of a project–much like others have mentioned above, finally getting the hang of a pattern and enjoying the clicking of the needles. Oddly, the planning part is torture for me. I say oddly, because I’m a serious planner in most other aspects of my life (e.g., planning a vacation can be more fun than the vacation itself–I know, I’m sick.)

  26. I like whatever part of the project where I can zone out and just knit. The part where there’s no chart and no shaping. I actually have a rav bundle called “Ocean of Stockinette” for when I am in the mood for a project that is just knitting in the purest sense – all knit stitches, all the time.

    I am test knitting a top-down raglan rn for YOTH and I just got to the point where I put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn, and I got to the line in the pattern instructions that says “knit until the piece measures many inches” and I love that part. The same feeling as when the bell used to ring for recess at school. Much more work to come but for now, relaxing.

    *But* I also love turning heels when I knit socks, because that hasn’t stopped feeling like a magical thing to do, and I love a colourwork yoke on an otherwise stockinette project, too.

  27. I have two favorites.. choosing/touching the yarn for the intended project (especially if there is more than one color involved) and the on the fly adjustments that I make as I knit. (I tend to not do much of the planning on paper and very rarely follow patterns.)

  28. I’m with you. The sketch and the swatch. That point of infinite possibility. And yes, i do that same funny cast on diagram if I’m not grading it. Barbara Walker fan perchance?

  29. I would say the making, actually holding the yarn in my hands. I’m very new to knitting so the novelty of creating something certainly hasn’t worn off yet! I don’t prefer the planning as much because when time is limited, all I wanted to do is to start on it already! haha.


  30. I’m definitely a planner, and I dive deep into that part of the process (though nowhere near as picturesquely as you… My projects begin with spreadsheets, literate-programming-style code notebooks, and/or digital sketches and color palette mockups, all of which I make quite tidy and beautiful by my lights, but they sure don’t photograph as well!). But thinking about it, I wouldn’t say planning is my favorite part. It’s always tinged with anxiety for me, because I’m such a planner that I’m dogged by the fear that I’ll never actually start anything. So it’s hard for me to relax into the planning.

    I think the part I relish most is finishing — taking my time with blocking and sewing up and adding all those gorgeous details that make me really proud of my creation. Like others have said, it’s the moment when it all comes together for me. The project is out of the pupal case, the damp, wrinkly exoskeleton has smoothed out and is beginning to harden into iridescent brilliance…

  31. I like finishing a project–not the fiddly sewing up parts, per se, but being done with a project. As someone else mentioned, putting the printed out pattern into the recycling bin (or putting it in my scrap paper box for writing notes and to-do lists). I also love cleaning out the knitting bag the project was in–putting away the needles, leftover yarn, any special tools, and putting the empty bag bag with my other knitting projects. I love the feeling of accomplishment and checking something off a list, and then considering what I’ll work on next…

  32. Ripping the parcel open when my yarn arrives! That first feel of the yarn is wonderful. I usually bury my nose in it ( wool often does still smell of the barnyard) and take it into the light to admire the colour and texture. The excitement of imagining it knitted into a beautiful item starts there and follows me through the whole process ( except knitting sleeves on dpns- the excitement usually turns to frustration/ fury there!)

  33. MULLING. When I have an idea but not a complete idea. First of all, an unmade thing is always perfect. And pondering the possibilities is such a tasty way to spend a night, day, week, or month.

  34. Totally off topic, but I love that you’re political enough to watch the Iowa caucus results. Just another reason why you’re my favourite knit-blogger!

  35. The beginning and the ending hold the most joy for me. I love the excitement of casting on and getting the feel of the new yarn, but I get bored with the endless stockinette, and usually this part takes the longest. Then there’s the realization that the project is getting close to being done, and the subsequent marathon sprint to the end! I even love blocking because I know then the project is final and done, REALLY done!

  36. I have a thing for numbers, so planning is my favorite step as well. I do yarn subs a lot in my project and like to make modifications so I love planning. It sorta hypes me up for casting on and then I end up powering through my knitting. I love it!

    A somewhat related question: what do you do when you’re in a knitting slump? My queue is ever-growing, but I can’t bring myself to cast on or work on any WIPs!

  37. I love the part where I realize I already own all the needles needed for a project AND they are all ready and waiting, not stuck in WIP bags hidden all over the house :)

  38. I think for me, it’s the making – writ large. The fact that I’m making something myself, creating and crafting as I go along, is probably my favourite part because it’s an extension of my values, aesthetics, and politics.

  39. I love the part of knitting when you’ve internalized the instructions and are just mechanically knitting in a blissful state of flow. My favorite part of any pattern is “Continue on in pat. to 167 sts.” I am always frustrated when casting on and beginning and sad to cast off, but I love sailing along after I’ve hit my stride.

  40. I love the first time you pull out an end of yarn from your skein, particularly in center pull cakes of yarn. Weather it’s the maiden voyage of the pattern starting from nothing or adding in a new skein somewhere along the way. It’s an enjoyable reminder of the fiber you’re working with and how it feels in its simple strand form before it becomes your fabric. It’s the best feeling in your fingers in my opinion!

  41. I love, love that black heather. That colour is so beautiful and versatile. I’m currently knitting myself a raglan sweater with Bulkylopi yarn in that colour. I’m making up a pattern as I go along. I have frogged many times at the beginning until it fit exactly what I want. For example, I wanted the neck opening to fit over my favourite crew tee and I wanted the upper body to fit me well. I am very happy with it so far and hopefully it’ll be done by next weekend. (I’ve knitted only 2 sweaters before. The process was to follow the pattern. I was not happy with the results. So I decided to take on a different approach for the current sweater that I’m knitting.).

  42. My favorite point in a project is the moment I can try things on, whether it be a few inches of a hat, the freshly-turned heel of a sock, or the yoke of a sweater. I’ll pull it on and feel the need for a little happy dance! It’s a nice little break from to stop and admire my work. I think I lean towards being a product knitter, and that progress towards a wearable garment is so gratifying!

  43. I think my favorite is the planning, too – there’s so much anticipation and potential. Sometimes I find myself suffering from the tyranny of choice, usually when I haven’t yet picked a pattern or yarn and am drowning in a sea of options. But if I have one or the other pinned down (usually the yarn), the planning is great. I bought some very special yarn on a whim a few months ago, and just this last week set out to decide what to make with it. The swatching and plotting and figuring out what pattern would work best with the fabric was great.

    I also love casting on, but some patterns can be a bit frustrating at the start, so I agree that once everything starts to come together is another great moment.

  44. Oh…I adore the act of knitting. I love winding yarn in anticipation. I love to swatch. I love when a project makes me solve problems and makes me feel “clever” to quote EZ.

    But my favorite, as much as I adore the process, is the third year of wearing a sweater that still somehow feels entirely perfect because I made it just as I wanted and every wash makes it better and pulling pills off makes it look new again and I can marvel at the quality of the yarn and I just love putting on a well worn sweater (socks, hat, etc.) of my own making.
    I just wore a hole in my oldest pair of socks and I’m unreasonably thrilled to darn them. Aren’t we all a bunch of weirdos??

    • Oh, also that beautiful moment when someone goes mad for an accessory you’ve made and you take it off and put it on them. I don’t knit for others unless asked, learned that a little painfully early on, but I adore giving hand knits to unsuspecting folks who love them. Their faces….what joy. Running in to them years later and they happen to be wearing the cowl, scarf, hat, mitts….sweater! So so very worth the making.

  45. I dislike casting on so much that I usually try to rush through it. Like ripping a waxing strip off.. Grin and bear it! I love the point where I am a quarter through and all is going well. That’s when I wipe the beads of sweat off my forehead and relax into it.

    I do like planning but that bit brings WAY too much choice for my liking.

    I do love looking at your planning though. It always looks very well executed (mine is not 😀).

  46. The yarn. Everything else is a joy (and sometimes it’s not), but the yarn is what first makes my fingers (and soul) sing. Finding a beautiful bunch of soft and vibrant wool and squishing it in my hands almost tops my list of most treasured simple pleasures.

    There’s a scene in the movie Amelie where she mentions the pleasure she gets from slowly dipping her hand into the burlap sack of dried beans at the market. That’s me, in a yarn shop. Slowly and assuredly plunging my hand into the fleecy fiber, just for the experience.


  47. I know this is a much older post, so I’m fully admitting to doing a binge-read backwards of recent things! My favorite part of the project is starting, and then immediately afterwards, I love the rush of being almost done — like, the last few steps before finishing. I often let projects hibernate in between so when I pick them back up I have a renewed interest in finishing them!

  48. Pingback: Q for You: Are you a process knitter or product knitter? | Fringe Association

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