Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Responsible planning

I've been making reference for a while now to 'The Schedule'. The name itself is pretty self-explanatory, but a bit of detail is probably in order. I am aware that this will reveal the true anality of my obsessive nature, but what the heck.

It occurred to me some months ago that I had a ridiculous number of knitting projects that I really wanted to finish by the end of the year, but no real idea of how I was going to accomplish this impossibility. Impossibility, you say? I had until the end of December, how hard could it have been? Well, I shall show you. At the time the schedule was drawn up (mid-2005), I had the following ambitions:

  • to finish a baby sweater by the morning of June 16
  • to finish a pair of socks by Father's Day
  • to finish a baby blanket by July 1
  • to finish a baby jacket by November
  • to design and knit a lacy baby shawl by November
  • to design and knit another baby project by November
  • to finish 3 adult sweaters by Christmas
  • to knit a pair of socks by Christmas (why did I increase my stress by adding Christmas projects? Well...because. Besides, DH really likes hand-knitted socks, and I didn't want his feet to hurt.)
  • to knit a child's cardigan for my niece by Christmas
  • to finish my Harlot Poncho
  • to finish my Elizabeth of York vest

My thoughts at the time can be summed up with the following phrase: No. Freaking. Way.

However, inspired greatly by Yarn Harlot's story of Lene's magic schedule, I thought, let's break this sucker down and see if we can really do it.

And so The Schedule was born.

The Schedule had me completing the shoulder straps and the first sleeve of the baby sweater and the foot of the second Father's Day sock by the end of the first full week in June. This turned out to be a little hairy, but manageable. That left the second week of June to finish both the sweater and the sock. I stayed up until 1am the night of the 15th and had to knit the sock sitting behind my husband (the recipient) in the car, but it all got done and The Schedule triumphed. The third week in June was a delicious breath of fresh air because it allowed me to turn my attention to two different projects. (The Schedule knows me well.) I was supposed to finish both fronts of the baby jacket (no problem whatsoever) and to knit all the pieces of the blanket and sew them together (a bit challenging, but I managed it by Sunday night). The next week I had to complete the blanket (I worked somewhat frantically on that) and to finish both sleeves of the jacket (done over a week ahead of time). The week after that I was to finish the jacket and get back to knitting my MIL's Christmas sweater.

And so-on, blahblahblah.

The Schedule did its job fairly well. It allowed me to see my knitting deadlines more realistically - thanks to The Schedule, I was able to let go of my desire to do a third adult Christmas sweater because I realised it would be impossible. The Schedule also enabled me to be more responsible about which projects I worked on first, while at the same time ensuring that I had an entertaining variety of stuff to work on.

The Schedule also had to be adjusted a few times, usually thanks to pregnancy announcements from people who saw fit to inform me of their impending parenthood only during the third trimester. When this happened, some projects (sorry, Harlot Poncho and Elizabeth of York vest) unfortunately had to be cut. However, because I had The Schedule, I could insert new projects with some level of confidence that it could all get done in time.

There were, admittedly, times when The Schedule fell down and I missed weekly quotas - my fault, I admit, either because I slacked off, or because I'd hugely overestimated the amount I could accomplish on something in a week, or because I just plain old screwed up on my knitting and wasted gobs of time fixing stupid errors. Sadly, at this point, just half a week away from the end of the calendar year, I am a few weeks behind.

But generally speaking, the system is going pretty well. So well that I have applied it to my knitting ambitions for 2006. Here is what I hope to accomplish in the coming year (assuming I finish all of this year's projects by Saturday, hahaha):

  • competence in continental knitting (ASAP)
  • my grandmother's Persian Tiles shawl (January 14 - her birthday)
  • onesie for my co-worker's upcoming baby (January 17 - his wife's due date)
  • 'Minnesota Mitts' gloves for DH (February 17 - our anniversary)
  • self-patterning socks for DH (June 5 - his birthday)
  • dress socks for DH (June 18 - Father's Day)
  • my felted heraldic tabard (sometime in the first half of the year)
  • my Elizabeth of York vest (sometime in the first half of the year so I can know for sure whether there will be enough yarn leftover for my brother's Christmas present)
  • something for my MIL, possibly a shawl (December 24 - Christmas)
  • Stornaway sweater for DH (December 24 - Christmas)
  • Ragna sweater for my brother (December 25 - Christmas)
  • Spanish Knight sweater for my mom (December 25 - Christmas)
  • my Harlot Poncho
  • my striped socks
  • six new baby items throughout the year, designed by me for my book
  • my Ljod cardigan
  • man-size adult cabled sweater for which I've been mulling over a design idea for some time
  • self-designed baby blanket
  • my self-patterned socks
  • my sleep socks


(But notice my incredible self-restraint - I have not included my gorgeous Lotus Blossom Shawl project on this list, even though I really, really don't know how long I can wait to start it.)

I've gone through this list and the year week-by-week, and have come to the conclusion that, at my current knitting speed, I would need two and a half (maybe three) more months in the year in order to make it. I also have to admit that my calculations are based on doing the same insane amount of knitting that I am doing now, which unfortunately is pushing other important things out of my life, like playing with my daughter in the car during my commute; doing my full share of the household chores; and organizing my house so that my family's life is less crazy and so that we can entertain people more often. Plus, there's the fact that DH and I are hoping to start baby #2 this year, which, if baby #1 was any indication, will completely wipe out my energy for the first trimester and thereby destroy about three months of good knitting time. So. It is extremely likely that The Schedule will be hacked and slashed considerably, and that some great projects will get booted out of the lineup. (Pout. Sob.)

(Of course, what I'm really hoping for is that I get so good this year at continental knitting that my knitting speed increases to the point where I can accomplish the entire 2006 list in half the time. Actually, screw it, what I'm really, really hoping for is a big lottery win. Then I could gain more knitting time by quitting my job and hiring someone else to do the housework.)

So....will The Schedule prevail? How much can I accomplish? Only time will tell. Stay tuned for the not-so-exciting saga as the story unfolds very slowly in real-time...

(Good lord, I think I've just invented another reality show...)

Persian Tiles shawl for Grandma
Last night I did the math. I had completed 93 rows of the shawl. This meant there were 375 rows left to complete. Plus steeking, sewing, blocking and fringing. Not including yesterday or the day of the party, I had 17 days to accomplish everything. Subtract two days for steeking, sewing, blocking and fringing, and that left 15 days to do 375 rows. That's 25 rows per day.


So, today's quota is to complete 118 rows. As of now, I have completed 102 rows.

Screwed, screwed, screwed.

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