Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to get more knitting done with less WIPs and hibernating projects and more FOs

Are you a serial starter?

Yeah, I'm looking at you, Heather! Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You have a serial problem. Call the doctor.. you have start-itist.

How do you know you have start-itist (aka cast on-itist)? Well, it's a contagious infection passed from knitter to knitter that causes you to cast on for every new shiny project that cross your path. You constantly catch the cast-on bug causing you to cast on for ALL the things. It doesn’t last long, but is strikes fast and hard, leaving your head spinning and with a lot of needles in progress. Can't find a US size 6 for that NEW project? Can't imagine why. You have 5 pairs. And they are all stuffed in project bags with yet another hibernating shawl.

How do you contract the highly contagious start-itist? Too easily if you ask me. Every time a new edition of is released, a new Twist Collective pattern hit Ravelry,  a knitting podcaster show off what they are working on, your digital copy of I Like Knitting hit your inbox, or Interweave Knits hits your mailbox, it starts. You're flipping through the pages and every new image is a shiny beacon on hope and possibility.

So, the new patterns are out, you are smitten by the designs. You are enthralled by the photography. You imagine you are the model wearing all those gloriously cabled sweaters, those stunning colorwork mittens, and slap me silly lacy shawls.

As you flip through the pages of the magazine, every design is better and more lovely than the one before.

Hey, are you forgetting about something? No?! What about your current work in progress (WIP)? You remember the one! The colorwork hat with the massive pompom from last season you just had to have. Lets walk down memory lane for a second: You have a huge stash, like most of us do (no judgement here, I have a bedroom converted to an office, JUST so I can store all my yarn and fibers), one that is way pass SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), but you had to go 2 yarn stores, place online orders with 3 different indie yarn dyers in order to get THE perfect shade of green variegated yarn to match the sample in the magazine because nothing else would do. So, now, that once sparkly new pattern you were obsessed with is now dull and lifeless, tucked away in a bin and marked as hibernating on Ravelry.

You have more projects at various stages of completion that you can even count.

You started all these projects for a reason. At some point you loved the design and wanted to wear it. How can you finish one of these projects so you can enjoy wearing it or gifting it to someone who is knit worthy?

We've all been there. We've been working faithfully on a project and something new crops up that totally distracted us. As a designer, I have a lot of projects on my plate and I make progress on EVERYTHING. And I am not just talking about the things I am commissioned to create for a magazine that I have to finish. Even the hats for my boys or the scarf for my sister… they all get worked on and get completed. And you know what, it feels good! It's feels awesome to want to start a new project and have free needles. My needles are not held hostage in a project.

New Majestic Needles from Knit Picks 
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So, how can you finish these WIPS and hibernating projects AND still get to play with all the new shiny projects?

I wouldn't leave you hanging. Here are a few tips:
  1. Frog it. If you are truly not in love with the project anymore, frog it. Wind the yarn and find something new to use it for. Rescue those needles from it's hibernating prison.
  2. When you get the urge to cast on for a new project, wind the yarn and SWATCH. Yes, I said the "s" word. Swatching or even simply winding the yarn is enough to take the edge off and get the urge out.
  3. Set a goal. Choose a few projects from your WIP and hibernating stockpile and decide on the one or two you will finish and by when. That way you will have a deadline. Write it down because there is something powerful in having your goals written down so you can look at.
  4. Goals change. Maybe after a few days knitting, you start to feel really out of love with the project. Ask yourself: Do you still want that hibernating project? Depending on how you feel about the project, do one of these things: Frog it, Finish it, Give it away, Pay to have it finished by another knitter.
  5. Try adopting a new system for managing your projects, aka, the reward system. Use the 2 out and 1 in method, which means that for every 2 projects you finish, you are allowing yourself to start 1 new project. Feel free to play with the ratio to find something that works best for you.
  6. Finish the easy stuff first. Sometimes, tacking the hibernating stockpile can feel daunting. Try finish projects that are mostly complete first. This will build up your confidence as you finish the project. Then move on to the next nearly completed project, then the next, etc.
  7. Get support. Join a Stash Down or Finish it group.
  8. Share your work and progress on Ravelry and social media to get support and accountability.

The truth is, so what if you have a hundred WIPs?! You want to keep on stating new projects without finishing any, then that is your right! NO JUDGEMENT here. Don’t feel you have to be in love with every project, forever. As long as your family isn't going hungry or cold, and you're not going broke by you constantly buying new yarn and patterns and never finishing anything, do what make you happy. But if you feel guilty, you want to finish up some things, use the tips above to help you out.

until next time,
Stitch On!


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  1. i have between 5 and 10 wips. they were stopped for various reasons, mainly i had to a different project first and just haven't been able to get back to finishing them.

    1. Hi Amber. Thank you for being "brave" in sharing your numbers. You are not alone. 5-10 WIPS is not a lot, especially if you have been knitting for a while.

      The real questions are: Why haven't you been back to finish those projects? And what are you going to do with them?

      I hope some of the tips I've given can help you answer these question and help you to figure out if they are worth FROGGING or FINISHING. I'd love to hear what you decide.

      Stitch On!

  2. I have never THOUGHT of doing that! (i.e. starting a new project before the old one was finished.) I just carry the one unfinished project around with me guiltily for months (or it collects dust for months). Maybe I need to liberate myself in the other direction....I'd get more knotting done....

    1. Oh no. Don't don that. Life is too short to be dragging projects around for MONTHS that you are not happy with. Liberate those projects! If you are feeling guilty? If you are not loving the project anymore? FROG IT!
      Thanks for sharing