I’m about to say the three dirty little words of knitting. Work in progress. I know; you hear those words and, immediately, visions flood your mind. The half-finished-sweater in your closet, the ten-rows-to-go-poncho in your project bag, and the just-cast-on-hat on your nightstand are haunting you right about now. How did things get so out of control?
If you’re like me, and most knitters I know, it boils down to personality. We are, by nature, creative types. We’re programmed to be a bit disorganized, extremely enthusiastic about new projects, and easily bored by long ones. That sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it?
Well, there is hope for us, my artistic friend. With a few easy tips, you can finish those WIPs and make room for new projects – and you don’t have to go against your nature to do it. Read on for six easy ways to get your knitting under control. These ideas took my WIP pile from overwhelming to done, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you.
Make a List; Check it Twice.
First thing’s first. I want you to sit down and make a list of all your works in progress. Look it over and make sure you’ve got everything on there. If a project has one stitch cast on, it counts as a WIP. Keep this list in a safe place. Now, here is where it’s going to get tough – you are not allowed to start any new knitting project until every line on this paper is crossed off. The aim here is to make our lists shorter, not longer. Got that? No new projects, and no cheating by adding on to the list.
Bag it Up.
Now, I want you to set up two knitting bags. One of these is going to live in your favorite knitting spot at home. The second will be a road warrior, always at your side, in your car. In each of these bags, you’ll keep some basic supplies, like scissors, tapestry needles, etc. Think basic notions that every project uses. We’ll get to the rest of what goes in the bags a little later.
Do It All At Once.
This bit of advice will probably fly in the face of everything you’ve been told about finishing open projects. You’re most likely used to hearing that you should work on your to-do list one item at a time until it’s all done. The problem with that is that behavior goes against our creative nature. We don’t want to wait until a lengthy project is done to start the next one. And why should we? Why not work with our nature instead of against it?
Here’s what you do. Take the list you made earlier and choose two projects. Put them both in your travel-knitting bag. Be sure to include all the yarn and needles you’ll need for both. Now, take a third project and stash that in your favorite knitting spot at home. As you finish a project, replace it with another from your list. And be sure to mark the finished one off.
Working on three different things at once has two benefits. One, it will allow you to mark off more WIPs from your list. Two, it will add variety, which is vital to your success. Having multiple projects going will decrease the chances of getting bored and wanting to start up something new.
If you’ve been following along, you’ve got your list, your two knitting bags, and your first projects all lined up. Now comes, for many of us, the hard part – finding the time to knit. Over the years, I’ve learned that it is possible to do just that, find time. You just have to get creative, be honest, and do a little digging. First, think about your day. I want you to find one hour for knitting. That’s it, just one hour. Maybe it’s the hour you spend watching television, or the fifteen minutes here and there throughout the day that you spend procrastinating over other projects. Once you’ve found that hour, devote it to knitting.
Next, if you work or go to school, you’ve got a great opportunity for knitting. Leave thirty minutes earlier than you normally would. Use the extra half hour in the parking log for knitting the projects in your travel bag. Why not just knit for the half hour at home? Too many distractions for your creative brain, that’s why. You’ll find that sitting in solitude, just you and your knitting bag, will work wonders for your productivity. This trick will work for doctor’s appointments, meetings, and other trips too. Anytime you’re stuck in the car, pick up that bag and knit.
If you’ve been faithful to the above two tips, you’ve created an hour and a half (at minimum) per day to knit. Just think of all the knits, purls, cables, and rows you could finish in a week. You’re WIPs are going to be finished in no time!
Rank and File.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. All this sounds great for finishing your WIP pile, but what about that e-mail full of awesome new patterns, or that knitting magazine with those must-knit sweaters? First, remember rule number one – no new projects until your current ones are done. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t start gathering up all the projects you want to do now.
Here’s how. Set up a file folder, labeled New Projects. Every time you find a pattern you want to do, you’re going to put it in this file. Print it out, cut it out, or write it down, whatever you need to do – just get it in that file. Also make notes on the pattern with anything you don’t want to forget about it. Jot down who you want to make the project for, what kind of yarn you have in mind, changes you’d like to make, etc. Writing everything down and storing it away will relieve you from the feeling of needing to actually start the project right away.
Next, you should rank your projects within the file. Put the ones you are most interested in at the front of the folder. Also keep important dates in mind. For example, if a project needs to be finished first, in order to meet a gift-giving deadline, it should go ahead of other patterns.
Finally, now that you’re well on the way to getting your WIPs under control, you need to set limits to make sure you don’t end up in the same mess all over again. Here are a few rules to keep you on track after your initial WIPs list is cleared.
1. Try not to have any more than three works in progress at any given time. If you work on less than three, you could get bored, and if you work on more than three, you could get overwhelmed. Whenever one is finished, pick the first pattern in your New Projects file and get started.
2. Don’t buy yarn for new projects until you’re actually ready to start them. The only exception to this is if the yarn is something you can’t get later, like certain specialty, vintage, or soon-to-be-discontinued yarns. This will help you resist the temptation to start the project before it’s time, and it will help keep your stash under control too.
3. Finally, the holidays can be a knitter’s downfall. So many people to knit for and so little time. Think about patterns that can be used for everyone on your list, with a little personalization. A simple scarf pattern can look vastly different when worked in various yarns. Working one pattern over and over again means you can finish more items faster, since you get used to the stitch work. Working it in varying yarns will still satisfy your creative side and keep boredom at bay.