Sunday, March 29, 2015

WIPs and Blahs

It is very much Spring here in New Mexico. The weather is gorgeous - I'm sitting in the garden in nothing more than shorts, a tank top and flip flops while I type this - and spring activities abound. We've begun our seedlings and are already seeing sprouts. Weeds are already taking over and I'm sporting a sunburn. My husband is busy plotting changes to our vegetable garden and I've sewn new pillows and cushion covers for our patio furniture. All these things fill me with joy... so why do I feel so "blah" right now?

Lunatic Fringe Pattern by Jennifer Dassau
WIP by Jessica L'Heureux since 2013!
First, let me be clear. NO, I'm not depressed. I am filled with joy and loving the early Spring. It's my knitting that is "blah".

This time of year always fills me full of creative ideas. New growth brings forth beautiful colors I want to capture in yarny creations (or in the yarn itself when I'm inclined to dye) and I'm always eager to start new projects. It's almost like the reverse of Spring Cleaning because instead of cleaning and uncluttering, I become overwhelmed with ideas and the need to start new projects and designs. I akin it to mental fireworks. This year is not different. I have an idea for a garter shawl, a lace shawl, another pair of socks, etc, etc, but I also have a startling number of WIPs laying around.

Why so many WIPs?  A number of reasons.

My full-time occupation doesn't afford me time to knit during the day, with the exception of my lunch break, whereas prior to this year, I literally knit at my desk while working part-time hours, then left and stopped at my LYS on the way home, only to knit some more. I have far less knitting time at my disposal, therefore, less gets finished.

Secondly, I hosted a couple of KAL this past fall.  Now, I don't know about other designers/KAL hosts, but if I have knitters all working on a project together, whether in my classes or strewn across the plant and participating online, I knit the project in time with them. These projects override any other knitting I'm doing. They are my focus so that I am there to support my knitters if and when they need me.  I love doing this, and seeing all projects, mine and yours, develop together. That being said, if the class or KAL is for socks, often the class/KAL focuses only on completing one, leaving the knitter to finish the second one in their own time.  I have two first socks laying around waiting for their friends to emerge from my project bags.

Thirdly, I have budding designs in various stages of testing. These stop and go as issues arise in the design and as my time demands pull me to and fro. Sometimes designs need to rest and pull themselves together. Often this can take time. Sometimes a design is dependent on other factors such as fiber or tools, where acquisition can cause delays. I have a very exciting shawl full of multiple lace panels that I've been working on since July 6, 2014. I got going a little too comfortably on it and made a mistake in my work that needs correction in order for me to test the math, and sadly, I just haven't had the strength to face that correction yet. (I HATE ripping back, and can't see through how to drop back the error and simply correct the stitch yet. It will take more fortitude than I have at the moment.)

Finally, there is the personal knitting. The patterns I purchase from other designers that I intend to knit for myself or as gifts always end up on the bottom of the pile. I have a shawl I started for myself March 22, 2013. Yes, OVER TWO YEARS ago. How did this become so neglected? Easy. I can't make money knitting someone else's pattern for myself. My design work has to come first, and therefore anything I'm doing purely for myself is the first thing I sacrifice.

I made the mistake of piling it all up and reviewing the stack.

WARNING. Don't do this.

I find myself overwhelmed with knitting obligation.

I tried the usual tactics - I sorted into 3 categories. Love it, Like it, Frog it. Everything fell into Love it;only one item teeters precariously on the Like it/Frog it border, and it is a pair of socks from a now reworked design, so my practical side is hard at war reminding me that they are socks and I will wear them and love them, if only I will finish them. I managed to eliminate nothing from my workload.

So I moved to the next tactic - 15(ish) minutes a day(ish). This is a great way to slog through projects that you just aren't feeling inspired about, in a baby-step approach. I'm more than confident in my ability to turn 15 minutes into 2 hours simply by starting a row in front of the television. Suddenly I am mindlessly knitting along, and had my yarn been a bag of orange cheesy puffs, my fingers and teeth would be stained and I'd be facing two treadmill hours to recover from the weight gain. I still find I cheat a little here. Sometimes I'm simply not in the mood and replace the knitting with other activities, like working triage on the plethora of dog toys that have lost limbs to the wild beasts in my home, or doing prep-cooking for the work week (we all need cupcakes in our lunches), or flipping through knitting magazines, or designing a new paint theme for my mailbox (yes, really) - anything to avoid finishing these projects. I carry my projects with me to and from work daily, yet often skip knitting on my lunch break in lieu of a book on my Kindle (that I've already read three times!). Can you say "blatant procrastination"?

And so I move on. Now I'm strongly considering a new tactic. Bartering. I desperately have held off starting an new project for fear it would trump the WIPs and I'd only grow a larger pile. I've warred with myself and set demands that I must finish things before moving on. This has only served to squelch my creativity and frustrate me, which in turn has enhanced the "blahs" and made me even less ambitious to face the baby-steps so resembling mountains. And so, negotiations have begun.

When I review the ways that the WIP pile formed, I'm reminded again that all new designs stop and start. This allows time for other things. Provided I allow for the truly organic nature of that ebb and flow, and don't get all time-table about it, and I promise myself that "when Project A tires me, I'll grab Project B for 15(ish) minutes" I may yet be able to muster through the "blahs" and accomplish two things at once.

Now it's just about giving myself permission.

Do you suffer the crafting "WIPs and blahs"?  What tactics do you have for getting yourself back on track? I'm always open to trying new methods. (insert cry for help) Tell me how to relight that fire.