As Suzanne noted in her post this week, the urge to start a new project is addictive and with the change of seasons (today is a gorgeous spring day in Northern California), often irresistible! Since my first post was all about our WiPs and keeping their numbers under control, how do we reconcile our yearning to cast on with our desire to avoid chaos? I believe the answer is easier than we think. It's all about knitting with a purpose.
Again, I recognize that there are many knitters out there who believe that their craft thrives best without boundaries, but for me, my creativity flourishes within the confines of one simple guideline. That is - I always try to identify the purpose of my knitting before I start a new project.
This purpose can be as specific as a birthday sweater for my sister, Christmas gloves for a close friend or as random as a new cozy for my iPhone. It doesn't really matter. It's more important that I know whose hands the knitted object will end up in and, roughly, when.
Although I do love knitting for the sake of knitting, knowing that I will have a unique gift for someone I care about when I finish, gets me through the stretches of endless stockinette stitch that many projects require. It also encourages me to try to new techniques and look for patterns I might not normally gravitate towards.
Last summer, for example, I was dying to knit cables. I had a new book on cabling and they all just looked so gorgeous. I was tempted by a pattern for a cabled throw, but I was worried that such a big commitment might not hold my interest. Then I came across a pattern for a cabled scarf and hat set. It hardly ever gets cold enough where we live to bundle up to that extent, so I knew it was out for me. But one of my friends is a skier and her birthday was just a few months away, so I spent a couple of weeks in June knitting up wooly ski wear. When my friend's birthday rolled around, I could avoid my usual last minute dash to the florist shop. I had a beautiful handmade gift up my sleeve. After that, I was on a roll. I chose a lace shawl made of musk ox next (a gift for another friend whose birthday was not until January) and then I started on a hat for my son for Christmas.
I often hear knitters talk about techniques they want to try (entrelac or knitting with 2 circulars, for example) or a brand new yarn they just have to have and I am no different. But before I indulge, I always try to keep the end result in mind. If I am burning with desire to knit a cabled mug cozy (which I am, by the way), I will come up with a reason to knit it. My mother-in-law would probably like a set, or my sister, or how about I start small and just make one as a thank you gift to the mom who drives my daughter to dance class? No occasion is too insignificant and it is never too early to get going on knitted gifts.
I guarantee you that, if I had jumped in with both feet into the cabled throw pattern I saw in my new book, it would be at the bottom of my pile of WiPs today. With no compelling reason to finish it, I just know that it would always get pushed aside with plenty more "inspirations" to keep it company.
Next week, I'll be reviewing my favorite product for storing WiPs!