Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The psychological stages of knitting...

For the beginning knitter, just starting into your first project can be an exciting thing. To conceive of an idea in your head and bring it to fruition with your very own hands is nothing short of fantastic. You might expect that you will zoom right through it. However, the experienced knitter will tell you that it's just not so. Knitting, though a simple repetitious process, is a very complicated psychological process with various stages of its own. Learn to navigate these phases, and you too can become an expert knitter.

PROJECT KNIT: What to expect.

PHASE 1: Excitement! (From 0% completion to 20% completion)
In this phase, the hopeful knitter will gather yarn, choose patterns and projects, needle gauges, etc. After carefully planning out the new project (or not... some knitters do tend to fly by the wing...) the knitting begins. The knitter is excited to see the beginning of the project forming on the needles... bold and subtle combination of colors, brilliant execution of simple or complicated patterns, and the appearance of tangible evidence of intangible thought. In this phase particularly, imagination plays a great part in the formation of the project. ("Oh boy! Just finished another row! What's it gonna look like when I'm done with the next one?") The knitter often sees the finished product firmly in his/her mind.

PHASE 2: Satisfaction. (From 21% completion to 30% completion)
In this phase, the knitter looks back on the progress from the previous phase and is satisfied at the difference in how much of the project has been completed. The difference between just having started and being fairly underway into the project is quite tangible here. This phase is the most short-lived of the phases, and often one of the most dangerous, as this is where the majority of mistakes are made.

PHASE 3: Doldrums. (From 31% completion to 65% completion)
This is where the majority of knitters get stuck. The longest of the phases, this phase is often when most knitters begin planning their next projects. Experts speculate that the lack of imagination in this phase contribute to a lack of enthusiasm that often leads to long periods of lax behavior. In this phase, the addition of another row, or several rows, hardly seems to make a difference in progress toward completion of the project, often resulting in discouragement. ("Holy crap, I just added sixty rows and it doesn't look any different!") In this phase, knitters often begin excessive staring at their skeins or balls of yarn in a vain attempt to discern reduction in size, indicating forward progress on the project. If a knitter can get past this stage, he/she has it made.

PHASE 4: Tenacity. (From 66% completion to 80% completion)
This phase is where the most determined knitters will grit their teeth, tell themselves to "Just Do It" and knit their fingers to the bone to just get it over with so they can move on to the next project. Frequent yarn checks are also a characteristic of this phase, but by this phase, yarn checks have begun to inspire confidence in a finished product by virtue of their diminished size.

PHASE 5: Scrutiny. (From 81% completion to 100% completion)
In this phase, the knitter has begun to realize that the project is nearly finished, and imagination enters into the equation once more, as does motivation. One more thing is introduced in this phase that is generally not seen in the project until this time. Careful scrutiny of the project ensues during this phase, in which the knitter searches for major errors in the nearly finished product, and checks and double-checks his/her every move in order to ensure that no debilitating errors will be made in the final stages of the product. Oftentimes, knitters who skip the scrutiny may end up making catastrophic errors in the end stages, resulting in a completely worthless project that is oftentimes torn up, and re-wound into balls to put away for another frustrating day.

PHASE 6: Post-completion
After completion of the project, knitters have one of several options. Many of these options correlate directly with the quality of the finished product. Knitters give quality products to friends, family, or keep them. Products of extremely high quality are photographed and posted on Internet knitting blogs, since many knitting junkies tend to be blog junkies as well. Less quality products are often kept for the knitter, tossed in a dustbin, or given to friends or family the knitter doesn't much care for.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Successful preparation for and navigation of these psychological phases can give the aspiring knitter a good idea of what to expect. Knit on!

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