Monday, February 2, 2015

Process Vs Product

It's kind of weird when thoughts from two, seemingly unrelated  parts of your life are basically the same and parallel.  It makes me ponder.  If you read my post title and you're one of the people I just finished taking my class with ( I actually know 4 in real life!!!) or one of the people I've been talking about my class with- you will jump to Perfectionism causing Procrastination.  If you're one of my knitting friends, you will think of the division of types of knitters.  This also ties in to a conversation I had over breakfast last week with my friend Grace ( you can check out her blog "Knit On" on my sidebar) about knitting patterns, yarns and finished products.

I'm going to start with knitting thoughts.  Knitters seem to be split into 2 groups - Process Knitters and Project Knitters.  I'm a Process Knitter.  I knit to knit.  At some point after having knit something long enough I have a finished product.  I'm typical of most process knitters in that I have a bunch of WIPs (that's Works In Progress for non-knitters reading this) Thanks to my ADD, I get bored easily and have issues working on one project for a too long a time (for my vest that seems to be 2 or 3 rows) so if I'm watching TV with Curt or doing something else that leads to sitting still for a length of time - I'll easily put in some knit time on several projects.  I've learned that sometimes seemingly "harder" projects will hold my attention longer - lace & cables, colorwork - not so much, stockinette stitch is the most difficult to do for any length of time.  The yarn also matters - yarn that's scrumptious to play with, especially if handdyed in yummy colorways keeps my attention longer - variegateds as well.  Plain colors in plain stockinette stitch are the least likely for me to ever finish.  Except for Christmas and the occasional birthday gift - (or things I'm knitting for NerdWars or Nerdopolis on Ravelry) deadlines don't really exist in my happy place.

Product Knitters are different.  I know a few with varying degrees of this ailment.  Product Knitters focus on knitting an item.  They are interested in finishing that item and time spent knitting is how they accomplish this.  Most of the Product Knitters I know, do have a few projects on the needles- a small project for in the car or on the bus or train, a somewhat mindless project for their knitting group (where most of us spend more time talking or eating than actually knitting) or when they watch TV, visit etc.  and a larger/more complicated projects that require more attention and/or is just too cumbersome to lug around with them.  I do know one extreme Product Knitter, who, after finishing her project, will go to her LYS, find a pattern and the yarn for her next project, purchase them both and cast on for her new project.  ONE PROJECT until she's done.  She doesn't have a Ravelry Pattern Queue in the hundreds, doesn't have any knitting magazines with tempting projects (she does have one book - it's a how to knit and seam and finish technical book - doesn't even have an attached stitch dictionary) DOESN"T HAVE A YARN STASH!!!!! She was actually tossing perfectly good half skeins of yarn away after finishing a project- until a woman at her knit group told her to give them to her since she makes a lot of afghans and toys for charity.

So after a lot of time being on different Ravelry groups - most especially NerdWars and Nerdopolis - it seems to me as long as Process Knitters  can hold back from raging startitis (the high you want/get from picking a pattern and yarn, seeing the techniques, and casting on followed by the crashing low of the project no longer being new and shiny, since when it's only in your head it is perfect, exactly like you want it to be) if you look at a longer period of time(ok several years at the least) most of the Process Knitters I know actually finish more Products. Also I've noticed that process Knitters are more likely to frog a project that isn't working for them, they aren't as attached to the thought of a finished product so if there is no joy or if it isn't making them happy they are willing to quit. Product  knitters seem to know exactly WHO they are knitting a product for - themselves, friends, relatives, charity. Process knitters may know who something is for, but just as often they don't figure it our until they are done with it (good thing when an intended recipient outgrows an item before you finish it) so I guess there is less of the feeling of letting someone down if you don't finish it.  This isn't a dis on Product knitters - I'm just far more familiar with Process Knitters.

How does this tie in to the class I just finished??  Well, one of the causes of Procrastination is Perfectionism.  When something is only in your head it can be exactly the way you want it to be whether that's a blog post, something at work, a pair of knit socks, your body 20 lbs lighter, your 5k time 5 minutes faster, it is the Product.  When you focus on the product, you start to worry, become afraid that when you actually start it won't be perfect.  This type of worry becomes a self fulfilling prophesy, because when the fear causes you to procrastinate, when you finally begin you are rushing to make a deadline.  your rushed work is not going to be as good as if you take your time, if you can look it over, do pieces of it at a time, double check. ( One reason I yell at my colleagues who don't put enough info in the computer and then I have to work a long complicated install order with the customer sitting there waiting.. that's when I pretty much all my mistakes get made - I still check it over quickly so I catch most errors, but occasionally one gets through that way)  Your brain doesn't tie the procrastination with the imperfect product, but the process on the imperfect product.  That's why the Pomodoro method I talked about last Monday is helpful, it gets you started on the process, for just a certain time frame, without focusing on finishing within that time frame - just work on it.

There becomes a "good enough" moment.  If I'm knitting - especially a new technique and I realize several rows later I made a mistake - I consider a few things.  1. Is it structural?  If I missed an increase or decrease or something like that, it isn't going to come out right and I'll rip back to fix it.  2. If it isn't structural is it something that anyone but me will notice?  If you don't know what something is supposed to look like you won't always know there are errors.  If yes,I'll rip back and fix.  3.  Is knowing it is there going to bother me?  If yes, I'll rip back and fix - usually though the answer is no. So in knitting I usually avoid the need to be perfect and thus avoid procrastination.  In other areas of my life this is a lot harder.  So I'm going to try to focus on the process in those areas now as well.

How does this apply to my conversation with Grace last week?  You'll have to read Thursday's post to find out!  

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