Friday, February 15, 2008

Decisions, decisions

A little while ago Meg wrote a great post about how she decides what to knit next (or at least, the factors that influence the decision). I thought it was a great topic and decided I'd think on it a bit and post my own reflections. It ends up being a bit of a list about what I do and what I don't do, and some reasons why I do, or don't do, those things (and keep reading, there are photos eventually...).
1. I don't generally see a pattern and cast on for it straight away - for example, I get the latest edition of IK or Knitty, or even my friend's activity in Ravelry (best invention ever!) and will see something I love and must make. But not straight away. I rarely, if ever, see a new pattern and start it immediately. Mainly because I've already got 5 or 6 things on the sticks already, and I can't justify starting another one.

But I think it's also about being sure that I really want to spend my precious knitting time making that particular item. I hate frogging and I don't want to start someting which I end up not liking. So I'll think on it for some time before I'll actually make it. If I'm still thinking about it a few months later, I might even buy the yarn for it. Which doesn't mean I'll knit it straight away, but at least I'll have the yarn when I'm ready!

2. I don't like to knit to deadlines. So that means I try and get any gift or obligation knits out of the way sooner rather than later. Inevitably, I usually cut it close to the wire anyway, so I'm always reminding myself of the deadline for the gift knit. So even if I'm hankering to start something new, I'll try and hold off in order to finish the gift knit (but see point 6 below!).

3. I like to only have one big garment project on the sticks at any one time. So even though I've got yarn for at least 5 jumpers or cardi's for myself, I'll only have one on the sticks at any time. Although at the moment, I haven't got any (exept the Lace Tee, which doesn't count because it doesn't really have sleeves)...but I'll be rectifying that soon! Which brings to my next factor...

4. Stick availability. I'm pretty much a KnitPicks Options convert now. My most used stick size is 4.5mm. I've got 3 sets of 4.5mm tips. All currently in use. I know one of the ideas behind the Options is so you can take the tips off one project leaving it on the cable, and use the tips for another. But I just know that the minute I try that, I'll grab the project without the tips in a rush to leave the house, and then won't be able to knit on it. So I have to finish one of my 4.5mm stick projects before I can start Buck-along.

5. I like to have variety in my projects. Generally speaking, at any one time I've usually got the following on the go:

-adult garment
-baby/child garment
-scarf
-lace project
-socks
I try not to start a new project in any category if I've already got one on the go. Of course, right now, I've got 3 scarves, two pairs of socks and 2 baby garments, plus (small) adult garment and lace project. And two projects in hibernation...but still have the variety! Of course, within those categories there can be easy projects or attention needing projects, and sometimes they cross over (lace scarf, baby socks socks, lace garment etc - although never scarf socks, because that would be weird).

6. If procrastination were an olympic sport, I'd win gold, gold, gold for Australia! Even with things I enjoy, like knitting! So sometimes I start something new in order to put off knitting things I'm close to finishing, or really enjoying, or not enjoying, or need to finish. Usually the new project will be something small, like a dishcloth, but not something I need to knit straight away. But that's how procrastination works, isn't it - you get non-urgent things done and the urgent (or important) things slip.

7. What fits in with life plans (not Life Plans, just day to day stuff!). If friends are coming over I might get some time in to knit while we are sitting around chatting. But, due to the chat factor, I try and knit something really simple, like a plain sock. Now, if I don't have a plain sock on the go, then I'll have to start a new one... . Or if I'm going on a beach holiday and I don't have a cotton project on the go, then I'll have to start a new one...

8. And finally, sometimes it's just serendipity. A flash of inspiration, or a random idea, or the fact that Grey's Anatomy finally started again last Sunday and you happened to have a skein of Yarntini self-striping sock yarn in colour "McDreamy" that you recently got from someone's destash sale...
And you've learnt how to do toe-up socks and so want to keep practising, so you have to start a new sock, which you plan to only knit while watching Grey's Anatomy (and also Brothers and Sisters afterwards, because watching the stripes grow is SO.MUCH.FUN!)This is two hour's worth of tv. With a break for dinner in the middle. I think I'm a slow knitter!

20 comments:

Bells said...

You're right - watching stripes is a lot of fun. You're a recent convert to strip watching, though, aren't you? I remember you saying a while back that you were less drawn to striping than you were to semi solids.

I could have written much of this post myself! Although I often start projects too quickly, with too little thought and often end up ripping out projects I'm not so happy with. I could use more of your brewing time, I think.

Ann said...

That's a great list & I think I fall into many of your categories but not with so many KIPs. I love sock knitting too & always have 2 on the needles - 1 simple & 1 more challenging. Love the colors of your stripey sock.

Donna said...

I'm in the same boat right now, trying to decide what next. I have no formula though, something will wind up on the needles. My problem is that the stash is too big, and I'm spoiled for choice!

TinkingBell said...

I have stripey yarn alnmost the exact same colours - love watching the stripes unflod! (Highly recommend the happy Spider's rainbow for this process!) I've only become a 'more than 1 item ' knitter in the last 8 or so months - but have gor it bad - currently have 3 socks, 1 bag, Bella and a dishcloth on the go. Gotta get Bella finished!

Alwen said...

It's complicated, isn't it?

I'm trying to nerve myself to inventory my current projects.

And to update my needle inventory.

And inventory my stash.

and juggle six balls and a couple of clubs, what the hey!

Rell said...

No Red Rose you are not a slow knitter, just too busy watching Mr McDreamy.....

Your list is so me. I have 10 WIP's on sticks at the moment varying from 2.25mm - 5.5mm.

amy said...

You've made my head spin. I don't know that I've ever put that much thought into it, although maybe I should. I also love seeing the "friend's activity" function in Ravelry. And I had to look up which US size 4.5 mm is and then chuckle, because I just said last night that I need another set of US 7 DPNs. Which are, of course, 4.5 mm. :-) I have them on hold so they'll be available when I get to the Feb baby sweater sleeves, but I want to start Evangeline mitts or the second Peekaboo mitten, both of which require the same DPNs. So I started a plain sock instead, for exactly the reasons you stated!

Bells said...

Oh yes, I meant to say too that 4.5 is my most commonly used size too. It's the one of the Knitpicks I've used the most and I agree, I need to get more tips in that size. You are so clever.

SadieandLance said...

How very organised of you RR, your thinking and approach to knitting that is.

Great idea on having a project you work on during a TV show, I think I'll pick a new one for Bros + Sis'.

Oh and point 6...that's me to the letter!

del said...

My thought processes are very similar to yours, especially #1. I don't use my friends' activity nearly as much as I should...never mind, then my queue would be even longer!

Queen of the froggers said...

Gorgeous sockies! I used to take a lot of time deciding what to knit but that has changed recently. For some reason I now just go by what I truly want to knit, an instinct thing!

Sarah said...

This year I'm letting the inner knitter decide what I knit and she is a fickle, starty starty type gal

Love that McDreamy colourway and the idea of knitting it while GA wathcing is fab - as is the idea of scarf socks sort of like idiot mittens maybe with a scarf that runs down to your socks?

Lynne said...

That was a really interesting read and got me thinking about my kntting choices. Often the choice is made by "What new technique can I learn?" or "What new article can I try?" LOL

Because I'm a loose knitter, my most used needle size is 3.75mm. I love Kntipick circulars; I find the dpns a little heavy.

BTW, can you tell me what brand wool winder you use? I'd love to be able to make those cute little yarn cakes instead of winding all my balls by hand!

Em said...

Wow, that's a lot of thought. I usually choose products by virtue of what I want to knit (mostly socks these days, my feet are cold) and by what delightful knitted products I can give to people as gifts. Since I am a slow knitter, and have commitment issues, I tend to have a few projects at once so that I don't get bored or lose too much interest.

Meg said...

oooh, the availability of the needles, that one always gets me. At one stage I thought I'd try having two projects on the same needle (because I'm cheap) - didn't work so well.
I really enjoyed your list! I'm still trying to figure out what works for me. In fact, I cast on several things after writing that post and have not knit a stitch since mid-Jan. I am not giving myself too hard a time about it. I reckon I'll know when I'm ready to pick it up again. (But there really is a baby knit I must finish sooner rather than later!)

Corrie said...

oh nothing beats a bit of tv knitting! and I love the name of that yarn...

Corrie:)

Nora said...

Great list - you are so detailed and exact in your thinking.

I won't even go into my thoughts at the moment, except to ask why on earth did they allocate Grey's to the Sunday night timeslot!?!

MadMad said...

That is cute yarn (and I think the time was probably on the start-up, don't you?) I think this list is interesting; I have some similarities (needing an easy sock for TV or company-knitting), and some major differences (like how I can become instantly obsessed over a new pattern and push aside all other obligations in my hunt for the yarn and lust for action - tossing stuff off needles and onto the floor and not even bothering to read the pattern before casting on the new project...)

Michelle said...

Yarntini sock yarn is the best sock yarn ever. Had I a firstborn, I would trade it in for just one more skein of that sweet, stripey goodness.

Michele said...

great post! gets me thinking again about my own decision process about what to knit next. so much has to all come together to get a project on the go.