Projecting: It's my system and I'm sticking with it

Projecting: It's my system and I'm sticking with it

Christine (Pointy Sticks), seems worried about the idea of having multiple projects. oh Christine, if you only knew . . . personally, I live for multiple projects. I got over my fear of Not Finishing a long time ago and have been much the happier for it.

I have not had much time for Serious Knitting these past 9 or 10 months. Nope, not happening much around here. I’m talking about original sweaters; that’s my real thing, sweaters and shawls. Endurance projects. I like to keep myself, and those around me warm. And, I knit fast, so I can get through sweaters easily. I usually make sure I have a couple of Serious Knitting projects going, and then a bunch of small projects to break up the tedium that sets in on the long projects (got that? I love my knitting, but I find it tedious; go figure). But this year anyway, the sweater output has been kinda paltry.

That is not to say I haven’t been knitting; I just haven’t been doing much Serious Knitting. Right now, I have at least 8 live projects on my needles (off the top of my head; it could easily be more than that. No wonder I can’t find ANY of the 5 sets of 24-inch size 7 circulars I KNOW I own!).

Multiple projects in-projects

Ok, ok, it’s more like ten. That is, the ten that I could find in the five minutes I spent looking for current projects. Well, not that I hide them; they were just in 4 or 5 different rooms . . .

This may sound bad to those who like to start something and work all the way through it before starting something else (I have never been one of those people, to the dismay of many). For procrastinators, this could be a red flag situation; a disaster waiting to happen. For me it is works great; when i am busy with work, and exhausted in my free time, I do not want to have to begin something new. Sometimes it really pays to have projects in progress.

First of all, I love my knitting. I pretty much don’t care what I work on at any given moment (as long as it’s knitting), so I like to have a little project in almost every room that I can pick up and do. Some days I get several inches done on the shawl in the living room, then ignore that for a week while I do some work on the hats for next Christmas, the socks we will need for next winter, or the gift project I need to send out by the end of the week.

Second, I am always working on pieces for the shop. Sometimes they show off a new yarn, like this scarf in karaoke:

In-progress karaoke knit

Mmm. Soft.
Sometimes they are new design for patterns I sell at the shop; these are in pretty high demand, so I need to keep producing them. However, if I hit a spot in them where I need to think, knitting on something else really helps me over the hump. Like this cabled scarf:

Cabled Scarf in progress

I wanted something with openwork because the alpaca gets heavy in a scarf, but everyone loves to do cables too. I started it in a couple of other cable patterns, picked this one, but did not enjoy doing it. And if I do not enjoy it, no one else will either. So I knit on this:

in progress knit

And thought about it, and looked at my stitch pattern books (again). When I found the right cable I went back to it. Now it looks like this:

Cabled scarf 2

The small projects are the ones that I can take around to the shop, or in the car, or to the dentist, etc. (like socks). These will all vary, of course, in their state of completion. Some will be very far along, and usually those are the ones that are parked near the chair where I flop at the end of my day; I can do them mindlessly and there isn’t very much left to do. Others are established only enough that I know what I am doing and have the stitch pattern memorized; these are the lightest-weight and can go anywhere (socks always fit into this category).

Lately, I wait til the weekend to start new things. I work weekends, too, but my time is more my own, so I can brainstorm and do swatches and set up several projects in my free time. Then during the week, I can work through the projects just begun, whenever I have time. And because there are several, I can usually find one to fit whatever mood I’m in. Totally zonked? Oh look, here are some socks; I think I could almost knit socks in my sleep! Feeling anxious and need something else to focus on? Well, here we have a lace scarf half-done; the pattern is memorized and all I really have to concentrate on is doing it correctly and not dropping yarnovers. That will work; I won’t be able to worry about work at the same time. Need to decompress after a long day? Kid’s hats and mitts in funny shapes and colors will put me in a better mood (and guess what? I will need 7 sets for Christmas this year).

But the Serious Knitting? Fugeddaboudit. For some reason, I cannot start something Serious without agonizing over the design, the yarn choices, the stitch pattern, etc, etc, etc, til I have worn myself down to a near-tears state. I mean, I can’t tell how many times I have innocently gone to the workroom knowing exactly what I was going to do with X yarn from my stash, the pattern all laid out, etc., and I end up 4 hours later spinning up new yarn for a totally different project that I just designed, because suddenly nothing else appealed to me. And even on weekends lately, I don’t have THAT kind of time. But, I did start a new sweater last week. I am tentatively saying that I think I can finish this one in a decent amount of time, but the cable is a tough-y and right now, it’s kicking my butt:

Sweater in progress

And then there is the perpetual sweater. I haven’t had one of these in along time. I started it last spring, and it’s taking forever! I love the design I made, I love the yarn, and I love the stitch. It’s fine yarn (size 4 needles) and one that I have knit with before. I know I will want this sweater come spring because I have a similar one that I wear almost every day when it gets a little warm. However, here it sits:

Aztec Mazes in progress

I do not have time to really bond with this project! We have not come to that point together where I think about it longingly while I’m in phone jail, or make a beeline for it on my lunch break, or am while I am printing stuff. I just keep forgetting about it; ay, I didn’t even think to make this my olympic project! That would have been too intelligent. Don’t worry, it’s beautiful and I will get there, it just hasn’t happened yet.

So you see, the multiple project system has it’s benefits. One of them being that it spreads out some of your stash so that it looks like this:

multiple knitting projects

Instead of this:

Overflowing yarn

See what I mean?
We will spend more time on projects and stash later in the week. Someone whose initials are DEBBIE thinks she can get me to publish photos of my yarn closet.
Duh! Why do you think it’s in a closet?!

Tomorrow I want very badly to get to another favorite topic: podcasts.

Cover image pattern: Champlain Pullover (in progress)

Originally posted by Anne Hanson on February 27th, 2006

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