There’s an old chestnut that perennially makes the rounds of workshops on high-tech product development:
The building manager was perplexed. What could she do about the elevators? People complained constantly that they were too slow, and because the building was very tall, they were essential to getting around. She’d installed faster elevators twice already – but the complaints kept coming. She didn’t have budget to redo the elevators yet again, and didn’t think that would solve the problem, anyway.
Then she tried riding up and down in the elevators, watching the people as they entered, waited, and exited. Finally, the problem – and its solution – dawned on her.
She didn’t make the elevators faster. She installed mirrors in the elevators instead. People going up and down in the elevators could now adjust their hair in the mirrors, make faces, or just enjoy watching themselves and the other people in the elevator, rather than just standing around bored.
The complaints stopped. Problem solved.
The purpose of this tale, in high-tech product development seminars anyway, is to illustrate that what the customer asks for may not be what they want, and the customer may in fact be totally unaware of what they want. But I thought of it this afternoon, in a totally different context: I was grinding away at the knitting machine, wishing for an automatic – or at least faster! – machine. Then I remembered the elevators. I went into the bedroom, got out Alive Together by Lisel Mueller (one of my favorite poets) and spent a very pleasant hour and a half reading poetry while knitting blanks. This turned out to be perfect because the poems were mostly 1-2 pages long, creating a natural break in which to check on the knitting. I knitted up the entire blank for one of the facings while reading Alive Together, and had a wonderful time. It’s almost too bad that the next blank will be the last one – I have a couple of other poetry books that have been languishing for the last decade, and it would be a great excuse to read them.
At any rate, I’m nearly done with knitting blanks. I’m trying to finish all the blanks at once so I can clear off the sewing table – I’ll need to start adjusting patterns soon, and I need the knitting machine off the table so I can work on pattern drafting. So I’m pushing myself to finish all the knitting in the next day or so.
Onward and upward! If I can get the knitting done today or tomorrow, I can start altering patterns and making muslins (not to mention WEAVING!)