Theory 1: The "work-to-glory ratio"
This bit of knitting theory comes from my friend Carol (Rududu on Ravelry, where she is a Bobby Award Winner and a member of the Hall of Fame).
A quick-to-knit item which turns out beautifully is the ideal subject for hand knitting, it has a good work-to-glory ratio. Conversely, a hard-to-knit item which does not ultimately inspire has a bad work-to-glory ratio. Naturally, there are also items which are hard to work but result in a great deal of glory. Knitters must decide for themselves where the balance between work and glory ought best to lie to give the maximum possible results, the biggest "bang" for your knitting labor.
The scarf which inspired today's post has the best work-to glory ratio of any project I have ever worked. The gorgeous yarn of which it is knit transforms the simple lace into a simply gorgeous fabric. Even if you're not as excited about this project as I am, it's an unmistakable illustration of the concept. This all-garter stitch lace can be made by any beginner, but the use of a beautifully-spun, long-repeat, well-dyed yarn substantially ups the glory quotient with no additional work on my part whatever.
This makes perfect sense to me! As a quilter, haven't you found a project that "made your heart sing" and you absolutely loved working on it. The colors. The pattern. The fabric. The process. Whatever. In effect, there was definitely a "glory quotient" and it was worth it. As I've gone back through some quilt pictures, these quilts definitely had a high "work to glory ratio." There was something about them that I loved and I was sad (or at least wistful) when they were over. Sort of like coming to the end of that book you couldn't put down but you read it so fast, it's over.
On the other hand, these quilts made me really unhappy to work on for some reason. I got tired of the tediousness. Or I didn't like the pattern -- even if I loved the fabric. I didn't like the process. I put them away. I got them out and worked on them until I thought I was going to stick a fork in my eye -- and then I put them away. I down sized one of them. I gave one top away before it was quilted (and was thrilled it went to someone who loved it). I donated one and I will finally get the binding on another and donate it as well. Their "work to glory ratio" was very very low. If not at the start of the project -- no one starts out to make a project they do not love -- but by the time I was somewhere in the middle.
Theory 2: Product Plus Process
When non-knitters look at hand-knit goods, most tend to focus on the result, on the product. "Why spend 42 hours making a pair of socks? Wal-Mart sells 'em for a buck a pair" is their attitude, their tolerably obvious attitude. Confirmed sock knitters, however, find that mass-made socks cannot be compared to hand-made--the custom fit, the warmth, the exact colors of a hand made sock cannot be duplicated. This excellence is sometimes the very heart of a successful knitting project--the seamless toe, the beautiful work, the perfect fit, the non-binding sock on the achy foot. Knitting as product (and, as a very superior product which
Often, however, hand-knitted objects add another dimension, a process dimension. See your kid standing near the door in hand-made socks, ready to pull on shoes and head out? Those socks are loving that child--the kid is wearing a hug on each foot, and the knitter and the kid both know it. This is process and product combined: knitted object as connection between people.
Further, the knitter also remembers where the sock was knit--sitting on the sofa at home, perhaps, or on a splendid vacation, or maybe at the sick-bed of a beloved relative. Each stitch captures the tick of the clock while the curtains stirred the breeze, the vista of mountains unscrolling through the train window, the love and concern for the person in the bed. Process and product combine again: the knitted object as connection to personal history.
All hand-knits carry the invisible story of their own knitting--not just where they were knit, but also how--the color and texture of the needles which slid through the yarn, what the stitch markers looked like, how the yarn first looked on the shelf, how the project looked when first cast on and when half-finished, how the skeins of yarn then looked half-collapsed in the knitting basket. The older I get, the more foreground are these ephemeral joys.
I just love looking at some select blogs because those quilters have it figured out. They are working on quilts that make them happy -- and they finish them. I think that's what we do when we are entranced by a project -- or we know we will be when it's finished. The glory may not be in every step of the process, but it will be in the finished product, the memories, maybe the pride, and definitely the joy of seeing someone we love cuddled under it or knowing it's going to a good home where it will be cherished. Would a blanket from some super-store be cheaper and faster? Certainly. Would it be better? Absolutely not -- there is no love in that blanket. There is love in a quilt -- amidst every single fiber!
These are just excerpts from Tech Knitter's original post -- I encourage you to go there (even as a non-knitter) and see the comparisons to any fiber art and the similarities in the creative process.
I hope you are working on something that has a sky-high Work to Glory ratio!