Process vs Product

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Art and Culture

My love of knitting scarves causes the wise one in the house concern. He says it’s a sure sign I’m getting old. While I don’t disagree that I am getting older, I see my knitting habit as more artistic expression than rocking chair material.

Choosing a yarn that will match a pattern and suit the person I plan to give my creation to opens a world of texture and colour to me. I consider the feel of the yarn between my fingers, and how it will look in a gift-wrapped box. I put a lot of time and thought into my work- a lot of myself.

And yet, sometimes I wonder why I fuss so much. The receiver of my gift can go to any major department store anytime and pick out a no-less beautiful scarf for under $20. Better yet, she can go to a second-hand store and buy one for under $5. When she looks at what I’ve given her, she doesn’t see the hours I painstakingly counted stitches and undid rows, or the satisfaction I got from doing something special for her. All she sees is a scarf that looks like the one she got at Wal-Mart.

In our Western culture, we value product over process. Perhaps we should reconsider this. The machine in China that made the Wal-Mart scarf didn’t care about my friend like I did while knitting each stitch.

Image source

Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Scarf

I almost didn’t pick it up, almost left it there, half soaked in a mixture of rain and dirt. It wasn’t mine and I had no need of it. At the last moment, thought, I bent down and scooped it up.

I shook the debris off and made an inspection. What appeared to be moth-sized holes dotted the four corners. The knitting wasn’t quite even, with sporadic larger loops crowding their way in.

I don’t know what made me hang onto it as I continued on my way home. I just couldn’t abandon it there, uncared for.

Once home, I put it in the sink and washed it, revealing the bright orange it had once been. It spent the afternoon drying out on the clothesline. I took it in before the rain started again.

My husband asked me what I was doing with the ragged-looking scarf. “Nothing,” I said, “just giving an orphan a new home.”

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Filed under Creativity, Writing

13 responses to “Process vs Product

  1. This is beautiful. I cook home made cakes even though it’s more expensive than buying them. There’s something about the fact that I created it. And the smell too, of course.

    You are so right: the process is such a journey in itself. When I am relaxed and happy, my shortbread is to die for. When I am stressed, it is passable at best. How does one explain that? Am I putting happiness in the shortbread? How nutty is that?

    LOL Lots to think about, Zoe…thanks.

    • There’s a local organic granola bar manufacturer here that lists one of the ingredients in their bars as ‘love’. I believe them because they taste so good. Adding a little ‘happy’ sounds like it has the same effect on your shortbread 🙂

  2. You are sweet to knit scarves for friends and loved ones. I am sure they appreciate it more than you know. I love to knit, too. I’ve gotten away from it the past few years, but my knitted slippers have finally worn out. Ive been thinking about buying needles and yarn to make a new pair. Yes, it’s a lot of painstaking work to knit, and stores sell them for less than we can knit them ourselves. Still, I believe I’ll buy myself a new set of needles and a skein of yarn. Thank you for encouraging me.

    • Let us know how the knitting goes. I have a scarf on the go right now that I’ve been neglecting in favour of blogging- I’ll have to get back to it too. We’ll have to keep each other encouraged to complete our projects.

      • Ha! I still must purchase the needles and yarn, but thanks for reminding me. I understand how the scarf could be put on hold in favor of the blog for a time. Maybe I will catch up to you, but I doubt it. You are very energetic. Blessings…

  3. V

    *sniff sniff*
    Thank you for the one you gave me (well I think you’ve given me two now).

    Indeed, I agree with Carol, you are sweet! And I HAVE considered the time and energy and thoughtfulness you put into your creation. Thank you!

  4. I used to make hand-made gifts and imagine the receiver would be so impressed by my thoughtfulness and time spent. At some point I decided that the time and thought put into the gift would be for my benefit, because as you said, they may not see it any different than any other scarf. Luckily, some people do appreciate the extra effort.

    I enjoy your perspective.

    • Reading everyone’s responses here I’m encouraged to see that there are people who do see the thought behind the hand-made gift. Perhaps it’s when you know what it’s like to make something for someone else that you really appreciate it when someone makes something for you.

  5. I have an afghan that was made by my grandma that is sitting on the arm of my couch right now. I have often held it and thought of the effort she put into making it. It comforts me not only for it’s warmth but because her hands once held it. I think that thankfully there are those that still cherish the process & all that it means. Excellent words!

    • Grandmas really get it, don’t they! My grandma is the one who taught me to knit. She died many years ago but I still have several crocheted pieces she made on display. What a lasting way we can still connect to our grandmas.

      • V

        Funny thing about grandma’s!! Mine taught me how to knit and crochet too! Too bad I never kept it up, but I still have a little teddy bear her and I crocheted together, and I can’t see myself ever parting with it. In fact, I think these pieces of art are indeed family heirlooms.

      • I tried to knit a sweater with my grandma once. I was too young to really know how, but she let me ‘knit’ parts of it. She would then undo the mess I made and re-knit those parts. She wanted me to feel included in the process. I hope they still make grandmas like they used to…

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