Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Cleaning for WiPs

Hello Knitters and Organizers!

My name is Julie and I am, if not quite compulsive, then at least a very enthusiastic organizer.  It's a biological trait, I guess, as my 13-year old daughter wouldn't think of going to bed without first writing herself a to do list for the next day.  My 16-year old son?  He has my husband's genes.  Anyway, I am an at-home mom who used to own a yarn store.  For the month of April, I will be writing about ideas for keeping patterns and projects under control.  Here goes...

I'll start off today by talking about spring cleaning for WiPs (works in progress).  What are we knitters to do with the heap of unfinished projects languishing in our knitting bag(s)?

For me, organization in this area comes in the form of a 3-step process:

1. To gain control over your WiPs, feel free to treat them the same way you would treat an excess of anything - by applying one of the golden principles of organizing to the problem.  That is, if you haven't used it / thought about it for 6 months or more, out it goes.  Now, before you start tossing half-knit cashmere blankets in the trash, think about how lucky we are (we are?) as knitters to be able to frog.  In no other craft that I can think of at the moment can you completely undo (rip out) your entire project and return the ingredients to their original state.  I'd feel a lot more guilty getting rid of a partially assembled fabric quilt, than unraveling a long-buried incomplete wool sweater.  So, dive into that pile and if, upon seeing any projects in progress you are tempted to utter the words, "Oh, I forgot all about this one!" start frogging.

2. Next, look at the projects that remain and decide if you really even want to knit them anymore.  It's happened to all of us, and for me, it's often hard to admit.  What looks great in the photo, does not necessarily translate well to the needles, and the fact that the project is still on your needles is probably a bad sign.  You feel guilty and you ask yourself - why did I spend so much time on this project when I don't even really like: the yarn, the project, the person I was going to give it to and so on.  Because you are a knitter and you must knit whether you are enthralled with the project or not.  But now you have a better project that makes you happier and takes the place of the old one.  Go ahead and frog the old WiP.

3. And finally, there are the projects whose completion depends on a component that's missing:  a button, an explanation of a tricky technique, the recipient's measurements, etc.  For this situation, I have no advice but to tell you to make a list of what's needed and get it done.  It will take you 2 minutes to order a pretty button online, 5 minutes to find a diagram or video showing you how to put in a zipper and about 10 minutes to call your cousin and ask her to whip out a tape measure.

As for the WiPs that are left, you now have permission to adore them all and to be excited about finding the time to work on them.  Your hard work and courage with the steps above has paid off in 1) more usable yarn  2) more physical space in your knitting area and 3) more mental space, uncluttered by regret.

After all, we deserve to feel relaxed and inspired when we think about our craft - not guilty and overburdened.  The cloud of "to dos" hangs over plenty of other areas of our lives.  Knitting doesn't have to be one of them.  Besides, if your pile of WiPs contains only lovely, intriguing projects for which you have all of the necessary materials, that in itself is motivation for keeping them active.

Next week:   WiP overload prevention - how to plan our projects and manage our queues!

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