Friday, January 02, 2009

A look ahead

For the past few years, as the old year wound down and the new year approached, I've worked out a yearly knitting schedule for the year ahead. I think about all the projects I want to complete, figure out how many weeks each of them will take, add up all those weeks, compare that total to the fact that there are only 52 weeks in a year, and winnow down the projects until I have something remotely resembling a realistic project list. I then figure out when all these projects need to be completed, and apportion out each week of the year to one of those projects in such a way that all the projects get the time they need, and so that all the projects can get done on time.

Initially, this level of anality was incredibly necessary. My husband was sick of becoming a 'knitting widower' because I had grossly overcommitted myself on a project and needed to go into 'knitting panic mode'. (Translation: I retreat into my shell to do knitting, nobody else in the family gets any attention whatsoever, and DH ends up doing all the work.) And indeed, the old system of jumping from knitting crisis to knitting crisis and expecting my husband to carry the household on his shoulders really, really sucked, for a variety of obvious reasons.

The first year of The Schedule worked fantastically well. I knitted at the times I usually knitted (commutes, and in my downtime on evenings and weekends), no panic knitting required, and it turned out that I was generally pretty accurate about my estimates of how long projects would take. I got everything done, on time, and WITHOUT STRESS. Sometimes I even estimated wrong in the good way, and I'd have extra time to knit extra stuff. But after the first year, things started to go downhill. At first, it couldn't be helped - the first week of the new year, I was supposed to knit a project which required a pattern that was on order and hadn't arrived yet. So I substituted another project into that week and told myself I'd make it up later (which I did). But the damage had been done, and as the months and years went on, I went more and more crazy with the substitutions, often ignoring The Schedule entirely to do totally unscheduled projects that I couldn't seem to resist.

This year it became really ridiculous. I mean, just look at my right sidebar there, where The Schedule is listed. See that massive list of backlogged weeks? Yeah. Clearly, The Schedule has become totally ineffective. My spontaneous knitting nature has driven it into the ground.

So I think what I should start doing instead is something more generalized - some kind of system which allows me to be realistic about how much knitting time there is in a year, but which also allows me to be spontaneous and inspired. And at the same time, this system should also allow me to be very specific, if there are definite projects which I really want to finish. In a nutshell, this system must give me both structure and freedom.

I guess at this point, you're expecting me to present this wonderful new system with a grand flourish and perhaps a virtual fanfare?

No such luck. I have not as yet worked out this system. I only know that I need to have one. Helpful, eh?

So, in the absence of an actual plan, I'm going to make lists, and will try to promise myself to refer back to these lists throughout the year when necessary. So here we go.

List the First: Specific projects to finish

  • before end of February: Justin's Spiderman blanket
  • before end of February: Lauren's blue blanket
  • soon: Fjalar sweater, for me
  • May 25: Muppet vomit/roadkill blanket, for my older daughter (birthday present)
  • Christmas: Ragna sweater, for my brother
  • Christmas: Classic Cable Sweater, for my older daughter
  • no fixed time: Ljod cardigan, for me (my husband has been drooling for years at the prospect of seeing me in the finished product; he deserves to finally see his dream made into reality)
  • no fixed time: Baby Surprise Jacket

List the Second: Vaguer projects to finish

  • throughout the year: five baby projects, as presents for people who reproduce this year, including one which needs to be finished before the end of January (mid-February at the latest)
  • February 17: socks, for my husband (anniversary present)
  • June 5: socks, for my husband (birthday present...yes, I'm totally predictable with the sock gifts, but he loves them)
  • Christmas: 5 pairs of adult socks and 4 pairs of kid socks (that should cover whatever gift-giving whims I come up with closer to Christmas)
  • Christmas: Sea Silk shawl for my mom

List the Third: Design projects, in order of priority

  • Lauren's blue blanket (see List the First)
  • stranded sock pattern
  • cabled sock pattern
  • summer top for younger daughter (probably as a birthday present)
  • stranded vest pattern
  • purple/green baby item idea
  • Aran baby sweater
  • bib pattern
  • "Like, totally top
  • hooded baby jacket pattern
  • man's top-down sweater idea
  • new cable, probably on baby jacket
  • bolero cardigan for older daughter, in Zara (hm...maybe using new cable?)
  • other themed ideas for book

List the Fourth: Miscellaneous projects, if by some bizarre chance the first three lists aren't enough to break me

  • everything else languishing unfinished in the sidebar
  • something in tremendously complex lace
  • other project that suddenly shows up and grips my attention so fiercely and completely that all thoughts of knitting responsibly according to the system vanish from my mind
  • if suddenly we come into money and therefore the Christmas budget increases so I can afford a whole man's sweater's worth of Cascade 220: Durrow, as a Christmas present for DH

Some of these list items, of course, might double up. For instance, the Baby Surprise Jacket from List the First will probably be one of the five baby projects in List the Second. One of the test knits in my various planned sock designs from List the Third will probably end up as a gift pair of socks in List the Second. And so-on. Generally speaking, I think this set of lists is vaguely realistic. I'm sure I won't get all the way down to the bottom of List the Third, but that's okay. I don't think I've overburdened myself here, and I've left room for change, while still clearly outlining my priorities - and that's the important part.

We shall see.

Bamboo socks for moi
Oh, hey, look, something right off the bat that isn't on any of the lists! What a freakin' surprise.

But seriously...I haven't actually started knitting these, and probably won't this year, but my mom gave me some gorgeous bamboo fingering weight for Christmas, and I've been trawling through Ravelry lately looking for a worthy sock pattern to use it for. I must admit that a number of the top contenders are Cookie A patterns. (If you follow the link, you'll see why. She's a genius at designing drop-dead gorgeous socks. I so want her new book.)

However, in typical me fashion, I may not make socks with the yarn at all. The yarn has zero nylon content, which means it's unlikely to create socks that will last for any significant length of time. I may be far better off making something non-sockish...but still gorgeous, of course. I wonder what kind of a lace concotion I could complete with 314 yards? Hmmm...

Cabled socks for moi
I was hit with inspiration for a cabled sock which would be a variation of my sock pattern, and could not resist getting right down to it, using the Elann Sock It to Me 4 Ply sock yarn my mom gave me for Christmas (colour: eggplant). And I've already completed the first sock and started the second. I like it very much (I LOVE THE COLOUR), but I'm not sure it's going to be the final version of this pattern. I'm going to need to try a few other variations as well.

(I'm so going to need more solid-colour sock yarn. I predict a big - well, big for me - order from in my future.)

Stranded socks for moi
And just a few days after getting hit with an irresistable inspiration for a cabled variation on my sock pattern, I was hit with another one, this time for a stranded variation on my sock pattern. (Design ideas, I have come to find, are just like that. The more designing you do, the more you apparently open yourself up to ideas and creativity. So the more you design, the more you design. It's kind of weird, and definitely frustrating if you have a day job to take away from experimentation time!)

I've worked out all the motif charts and cannot WAIT to grab the yarn and start. Last Mother's Day, I think it was, my little family got me two balls of Meilenweit 50 Seta/Cashmere from Lana Grossa, a 65% merino/15% silk/16% nylon/4% cashmere blend, in a navy colour. It's lovely stuff. Then later on, I think for my birthday, DH (possibly along with the children) gave me two more balls, this time in a dark reddish/wine-ish colour. I'm going to try these two colours together for this pattern and see what happens.


Georgiana said...

I'd encourage you to move Ljod up the lists a little... I finished mine on Christmas Eve, and it's fan-freakin-tastic. Especially for the guys, if you catch my drift :P

LLB said...

Schedule, schmedule! I vote for knitting what you feel like :)

Carrie K said...

I second LLB's motion. It's easier to keep on track that way too. ;)

The Lists look ......well, daunting but then again, look at your past triumphs. You've got a good track record.

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