Thursday, February 18, 2016

Process vs. project

Twill gamps on the loom

Why we do what we do

Thank you, Suzanne Jenkins, for the comment to a recent blog. It caused me to examine why I do what I do. In this case, the  'why' focused on knitting, but the question applies  all creative endeavors, including fiber arts.

The "process vs. project" theory divides fiber artists, which seem to be applied mostly to knitters, into two camps. Process people prefer the time spent exploring and learning the craft. Project people prefer working to an end result. Plenty of knitters seem to like the designation as there are a number of blogs and comments on the topic. At least one extends the label to a 'pre-process' stage that addresses the love of planning. 

After some serious thought, I think this theory is vastly over-simplified. It certainly doesn't make sense to me and I doubt it can be applied to most people working in creative fields.

Why do those of us in the fiber arts love to work with fiber? I can't speak for you, but I love it because it taps into problem solving, specialized knowledge and skill sets that, when combined, result in a tangible end product. 


It all starts with planning. Doesn't everything? For me, this stage of thinking about a project is highly engaging. I can--and do--spend days with a challenge project or two (or more) that lurk just below consciousness in my mind. This type of problem solving triggers active mind exercises that follow 'if this, then that' Boolean-like pathways. Periodically, a potential solution emerges. Eventually, it's one that works.

The planning almost always focuses on an end project and over time, it may morph many times.

Doing for the sake of doing

Process is essential to doing and there are times I am actively and enthusiastically engaged. What else is process than making samples? I like making them, just not exclusively. Samples are often stage two in the steps toward a project, but many are loosely targeted to some nebulous, unplanned future project.

Another example of process is working out problems of a smaller scale. These I assign to the evening when my creative energy is at its lowest ebb. As I've confessed, I'm still trying to master the art of knitting socks, so lately I've had socks on my needles. Purely process. 

Although I love working out the kinks and thinking through the obstacles, I can find it a slog to the end if it's a pain to find a place to use my dye pot--or highly repetitious. Yes, I'm easily bored. That shrug I shared with you recently is a good example. 

Nope. I'm no process person.

To the end

Without a project, there is no goal. And I am definitely a goal-oriented person. I love my libraries of samples. These are my idea banks, but they are strictly a means to an end.

I want a tangible outcome. And that suggests I'm a project person. But I don't think I am.

After careful consideration, I think the "process vs. project" theory is far too restrictive for creative endeavors of all sorts, including fiber arts. 

What do you think?

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