My Napramach bag is nearly finished. When I say this, I mean: the knitting is done. I still need to block the pieces (wet and stretch them to the right size and shape) and stitch the bag together. I should make a lining for it, too, to keep the yarn loops on the back of the pieces from catching on whatever I put in the bag, but I’m not sure I’ll get around to that.
I finished knitting over a month ago. So why isn’t the bag done? Because the part I love about knitting projects is the knitting. The finishing steps seem like too much work to me. I have the same problem when I make quilts. I love the design work and the piecing, but when it’s time to pin the layers together, I often set the quilt aside. Basting is a chore. I’d rather be playing with my sewing machine.
I am into the process (the knitting or the sewing) but not the product (the bag or quilt). Sometimes a manic desire to see the finished product will drive me through the less pleasant stages of assembly in a timely manner. But not always. I currently have at least eight quilt tops ready to be quilted, but they languish, waiting for me to baste them first.
Fortunately, there are loads of studies that explain why I love to knit (and sew). The answer is not as flip as it sounds. It makes me feel better. According to scientists, my feeling better is because of definite measurable health benefits. Repetitive activities like knitting are calming, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve brain health. In fact, knitting can provide substantial healing even for those suffering severely, like PTSD patients. And there can be additional benefits if you get together with friends to do your knitting, sewing, or other “crafting” projects, like scrapbooking.
Knitting is where the meditative action is. While I understand intellectually that meditation is great for us, I’m not so good at sitting still. But give me needles and yarn and I will sit and knit for hours. This can lead to marathon TV-watching — just one more episode, so I can knit a little more! — but at least I have something concrete to show for all that time on my tush.
My goal for my unfinished projects vacillates between two extremes. I either vow to finish everything, to do away with my stacks of unfinished projects, or I vow to feel no guilt and launch into as many new projects as I like. When I’m sane, I think there might be a path somewhere in the middle that will allow me to do some of both, but to be sane, I need to knit another pair of socks first.
How about you? Are you a process or product person? Do you have loads of unfinished projects lying around, or do you stick to one thing until it’s done? Do you find knitting and crocheting make you feel better?