Monday, July 02, 2007

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  • New Year, New Resolutions

    Our plans miscarry because they have no aim.
    When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.
    -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    I've been on an academic schedule essentially my whole life. Even residency has an academic year (which ends on June 30th and begins on July 1st - some summer vacation!). And while people may pop the champagne in January, to me the beginning of the school year is the real beginning. Fittingly enough, multiple long-term projects came off the needles in June - most notably The Chuppah, and Rowena. So today being July 1st (ish), it's time to take stock, re-examine the knits, the stash, and, well, more stash. Also the queue. (This post was supposed to have photos, but to no avail.)

    The Knits (UFOs by any other name . . .)

    With The Chuppah looming over my poor overworked head all year, I was A Focused Knitter. I had a plan. It was on a legal pad next to my computer (source of all knitting temptation in the known universe). The UFO Resurrection has also been a driving force in this. Each month, I listed my WIPs, with the % done next to them -
    1. The Chuppah
    2. Rowena
    3. UFO o' the month
    4. Book Project o' the month
    5. Sock
    6. Maybe another sock or baby knit

    In this way, I had a mangeable list of knitting projects, including several long term investments, a sock or something to pick up on the way out the door, and good progress with my other plans. And I listed all the UFOs at the bottom. Deferred until later. Gone was the guilt that would have me knitting one or two rows a month on something. And of the 5-6 projects, I would usually finish 2 or 3. Not bad.

    It was all going so well until I finished the Chuppah. And, as we recall, I was struck by cast on fever. Starting and finishing single projects in a leap.

    Previous to the recent 6 or so months of (relative) discipline, I would cast on for an finish projects as inspired, or as deadlines approached. No plan. No system. And thus, 13 UFOs when the UFO Resurrection Challenge begun. I have actually exceeded the stated goals of this challenge and not just worked on but finished a project every month. That's good. The flip side is that all the remaining UFOs are much much less far along than the first 6 I picked off. And then consider a UFO like Lizard Ridge. Obviously, this won't get done in a month. Finishing one block a month would be a nice way to move it along, but it would be lame to count that as my monthly UFO requirement. What to do? What to do?

    I could keep generating new UFOs of a smaller nature and then finishing them, but methinks that defeats the purpose.

    Several have asked (teasingly, right?) if I was going to finish my Book-a-Month project until I'd gone through all my books. The answer is no. Not because it wasn't helpful - it was immensely useful at helping me try new things, and sort through old things looking for things to keep or save. But I'm down to about 4 or 5 "unknit" books, and they are all keepers for one reason or another, but none of them are urgent. So there goes a line from my list.

    What to do? After all that introspection (if you're still with me here), I think the plan will be as follows -

    1. Keep the list. It's good to see at a glance what's going on.
    2. Divide the list into WIPs and UFOs. Again, it helps.
    3. Continue the UFO Resurrection Challenge. Larger projects can be split into smaller goals - e.g. the back of the sweater, one of a pair of barely-started socks.
    4. Start the Christmas list. Uh oh.
    5. Allow myself some freedom for fun after all those months as a Focused Knitter. Cast on at will. Knit fast. Try to reduce the stash.
    The Stash

    Speaking of . . . I have a problem. When I counted my 108,000+ yards, I didn't even include any partial skeins or leftovers of that sort. Which means when I gave away 1700 yards of Zephyr, I hadn't even added it. So I couldn't subtract it. And none of my current projects are in the stash. So none of that knitting is counted either for stash reduction purposes. Help. I want less of it, but I want to knit almost all of it. How fast can I knit?

    Probably I need a plan. Suggestions are very helpful. I've already been listening to Stash and Burn, but they want me to give away yarn. Eeek!

    The Queue

    This post is far too long, and I have thoughts on future knits coming soon. But have you seen the "add it to my queue" section at Ravelry? This is everything that's ever been missing from my life (except you, dear fiance, of course). And it's really helping me focus my plans for summer knits. I should have a great list. Just in time for fall . . .

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    Blogger margene said...

    As I read you post I thought you should be using Ravelry to keep track. It's the perfect way for a knitter to see what's got on the needles and in the stash. I've been hanging out there just oogling my own stash and queue. ;-)

    You've had quite a year, a year FULL of accomplishments!

    7/02/2007 12:42 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Oh, definitely teasingly! It's such a good idea, to knit a project from each book, but if I did that myself, I'd never be able to knit anything else in my lifetime, your lifetime, your children's lifetime....etc....etc..

    I think your current plan is best. Particularly #5.

    7/02/2007 12:57 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Heh. Well, I think if you love your yarn and plan to knit it up, there's no reason not to have a lot of it. That said, when I was pruning my stash, I was pretty ruthless about discerning which of the skeins were for projects with which I had fallen out of love. If you have any projects like that, perhaps it's best to let them go, otherwise knit on with pride.

    7/02/2007 3:32 PM  
    Blogger Jenn said...

    I think you've had an excellent year! Even if you only finished the Chuppah, you would have done an amazing amount of knitting.
    I am in the middle of embracing cast-on-itis as fully as I can. I want to knit something new? Needles are free? Yarn is in stash? OK!
    I've also started the Christmas list. Save us from ourselves.

    7/02/2007 4:05 PM  
    Blogger Meg said...

    OK I admit it, this was the one blog post that made me go put my name on the waiting list at Ravelry. (It was the queue feature that did me in. I didn't know there was a queue feature.)
    I think if you're a bit stuck for a plan you should go out and buy some school supplies - new notebook, new pens, pencils, erasers, ruler, and a pencil case to put it all in. That's sure to help somehow, plus how can it be the beginning of the year without new school supplies?

    7/02/2007 4:52 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Allow myself some freedom for fun..."

    I certainly hope this is given a high priority -- there is certainly no harm in casting on for something, barreling through it, and finishing it all in a whirlwind for no other reason than because it sounds fun. You have enough obligations in your life -- knitting shouldn't add (too many) more!

    7/02/2007 5:54 PM  
    Blogger Tracy Batchelder said...

    Sounds like you have a good handle on how to go. I still knit without a plan, but I don't have as much to manage as you do.

    7/03/2007 5:03 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have to agree with Rachel on this one.. this is a hobby, don't fret over it or let it stress you out.

    7/03/2007 7:18 AM  
    Blogger JayJay said...

    Those of us with an orderly nature generally impose it on all aspects of our lives, even our hobbies. Thankfully, with our hobbies we can gleefully disregard that order from time to time. I think the plan sounds good!

    7/03/2007 10:23 AM  
    Blogger soknitpicky said...

    I think the chuppah alone was a huge achievement, let alone everything else you've gotten done. The internist in you wants to create a problem list and treatment plan, but you already have more than enough of a plan. Just enjoy!

    7/03/2007 11:27 PM  
    Blogger Kat said...

    I totally understand the new (academic) year thing. Even though I am no longer in school, my husband is still in academia and our year starts at the end of August. I get very confused every January about why I need to start writing a new number then. After all, the year started 4 months before!

    7/04/2007 7:54 AM  
    Blogger Liz K. said...

    Did you read the Yarn Harlot's latest post?

    Surely you read it:

    the kicker is the end: "she reminded me that knitting is fun, that I like knitting and that it is impossible for knitting time to be a waste."

    What I am saying is that you don't have to be so organized. You can just relax and enjoy the knitting. Cast on. Knit. Enjoy.

    7/05/2007 6:14 PM  
    Blogger WandaWoman said...

    Umm, people can say not to be so organized, but if it bothers you, then yes, you have to do what is necessary to you. My question is: is all the yarn you have what you want to keep? I'm sure there are things that you are thinking why did I buy this, or I don't love those colors anymore? If so, get rid of them somehow. Blog contest, donation to a shelter, willing/available friends, yarn swaps, etc.

    Other than that, knit faster?! I dunno.

    7/09/2007 11:29 AM  
    Blogger Sarebear said...

    Okay, I LOVE this post; I'm a fairly new knitter, but the list you made here, REALLY coalesces alot that I've been thinking about! I'm going to adopt and adapt it to my situation, if you don't mind . . . .

    I've had an informal, knit from each of my boks thing, going on for a short time; short, because until a month ago, the only book I had was S&B. (some magazines too, though, since I'm a magazine junkie.) But then I found 4 knitting books on Amazon for ridiculously low, so I got them. I'm already halfway through a felted pillow; one side is knit! Technically, just 1/4 through the project, as I'll be making two pillows, but each counts as an FO, cause being a fairly new knitter, I need all the FO's I can get to add to my low number, hee hee!

    Anyway, thanks for the great post! And Congratulations on your marriage, and all those stunningly beautiful long-term projects you recently finished (holy cow on the Chuppah!!)

    Oh, and I'm embarking on a goal next month I set for myself this spring; to do my first pair of socks before summer is over.

    7/17/2007 5:52 PM  

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