The other day Boss J asked me a question that should have been easy to answer. I was showing off my trial run dress, and she asked, “Do you like sewing?” And the answer, after a lot of qualifying, was, “Sortof.”
The truth is, I don’t really like sewing. I mean, I don’t mind it. It’s ok. It’s often a challenge, which is good. Things that aren’t challenging in some way don’t tend to hold my interest, and if I’m not interested things have a way of just not happening. But if I had the choice of spending an afternoon, say, sewing a dress versus knitting a new and challenging lace pattern, or reading a new book from one of my favorite authors, or watching a movie with my sisters, I wouldn’t spend the afternoon sewing (unless, of course, there’s a major Deadline hanging over my head, and then all bets are off).
What I love about sewing is the things I can make. I like creating things in general, and I like the challenge of taking a piece of flat cloth and creating something three dimensional that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but uniquely suited to be worn by my body. Sewing is the only way I know to get the kind of clothes I like for a price I can afford. It’s that simple. So I sew. Sewing is also relatively fast. For example, it would take me days or weeks to knit a baby gift (or, in the case of baby blankets, years), but I can finish half a dozen bibs in an evening. So in that case, when I don’t have days or weeks to knit, I sew.
When it comes to making things, what I really love is knitting. I enjoy knitting in and of itself. I find it soothing, relaxing. Knitting helps me keep attentive and in my seat during meetings or long conversations. By bleeding off a little of the excess energy that would otherwise have me fidgeting, interrupting, or completing others’ sentences for them, it enables me to actually listen to what is being said. I like the way manipulating two basic stitches can create such endless variety and beauty. I love the colors of the yarn, watching the way it changes in different lights, how the stitch pattern interacts with the color to make something new. I love the way really good yarn feels in my hands: the springiness of wool, the softness of alpaca, the smooth slickness of silk. I love watching how it knits up into various fabrics, from dense cables to lace so light you think it might float away. I find knitting endlessly interesting, and I would knit even if I didn’t need any of the objects I create.
I have often heard the terms product vs. process knitters. A product knitter likes knitting for the things he or she can make by knitting. The actual act of knitting may be cumbersome and time-consuming, but having that unique, awesome product at the end makes it worth it. Process knitters love the actual act of creating. The end result is not as important. I think this is what makes the difference between my attitudes toward knitting and sewing. I’m a process knitter, in love with all the things that go into making a beautiful, useful thing. However, I’m a product sewer. All I want is the finished product, which I will wear with great pride for years. The actual work of sewing is a necessary, well, not evil, but the challenge you have to get through to end up with the thing you want.
So do I like sewing? Well, yes, in that I really like the things I can make, enough to put up with the various annoyances of sewing itself. But my heart belongs to knitting.