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Rules Are Rules

When I first learned to knit, about six years ago, I would work on one project at a time. I would remain totally committed to this particular project and work steadily on it until it was completed. It was a rule to have just one project.

You see, I have this thing about rules. I like rules. Sometimes my rules are irrational, but I still cling to them until something forces me to let ’em go. For instance, I used to have a rule that when I went to the movies I wouldn’t allow myself to eat popcorn until the movie started. I wouldn’t even eat during the previews. I was self-righteous disciplined enough to wait until the movie started. My reasoning was that if I started eating the popcorn too soon then it would be gone before the movie got going. That and I felt virtuous about the whole delayed gratification process. Somewhere about 9 years ago, right about the time that Dale and I started dating, I abandoned this rule. I realized it was silly to wait and that, frankly, if the popcorn ran out too soon, I could always go buy more. I felt such freedom when I stopped following this rule. Hunh. The fact that Dale refused to wait until the movie started and would have eaten all the popcorn without me had everything nothing to do with abandoning this rule.

What does this have to do with knitting? Well, I’m about to tell you. About 2 years ago I started really knitting in earnest – as in every day. As in, being totally obsessed to the point that I would panic when a project was nearing completion and I didn’t have a plan for what to put on the needles next. That was when I started knitting socks. I decided that having socks on the needles while something else was being knit wasn’t really breaking my one project at a time rule because socks aren’t really a project. (I know this is irrational, of course socks are a project, but I was trying to work around my rule, guys, and that’s not easy for me.) Plus, I could knit socks at a reenactment where I couldn’t necessarily knit other projects since they might not be period correct.

Thus began my descent down the slippery slope of starting and starting and starting new projects. I soon had 5 or even 6 projects going at once. (I know this is nothing compared to what some people have going at once – but this is me, the one project knitter.) Having so many projects lying around caused more panicky feelings for me – who to work on? who to give my time and attention to? all my projects need to feel loved and how do I do that when I can only work on one at a time? (you can see why I only gave birth once, too, can’t you?) This wasn’t any better than having only one project because too many projects resulted in having everything take too long to finish or even, God forbid, be abandoned completely.

I have been trying to limit myself but without any rule to follow I was sort of floundering. I am still determined to complete what I started (no second sock syndrome for this knitter) but realize that sometimes you need to have different things going on. Finally, this very week, I became enlightened. (What that really means is I made up a new rule for myself.) I decided that since I need different projects for different circumstances I am now allowing myself to have 4 projects going at once.

1. A Traveling Project. There will always be socks on the needles, they are perfect for traveling and I can work on them at reenactments. I give you Exhibit A, the second of the Dublin Bay Socks, being treated by the aloe plant.

2. A Challenging Project. This is for times when I need to be completely absorbed my knitting. Or when I just want to feel like a “real” knitter. I give you Exhibit B, the leaf lace shawl, masquerading as a tea cozy.

3. A Fun Project. Sometimes I just need to knit something that’s fun. A felted purse or small project that isn’t socks, a teddy bear for the new grandbaby, you know the stuff. I give you Exhibit C, the felted kitty bed from Wendy, reclining in the hanging geranium.

4. A Mindless Project. This being the type of project that allows me to knit and read at the same time, because sometimes I just want to read. I give you Exhibit D, the never-ending Einstein Coat.Peony.JPG
You might note that’s not a picture of Einstein – I just can’t bear to show you a picture of miles of garter stitch. The peony is much prettier.

So, my readers, this is my new rule. Feel free to slap me if I break it.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Good rule! I too, tend to set strange little parameters for myself, similar to your popcorn rule. I haven’t yet found a good rule for myself regarding WIPs. I need to soon though, before they take over! By the way, the leaf lace shawl actually looks quite nice as a tea cozy!

  2. You are a wise woman. Sally Melville said that very thing when I took a workshop from her. Four projects. Her criteria was:
    One portable
    One easy
    One challenging (for yourself)
    One for Charity.
    See, you’ve got it pegged!

  3. Margene pretty much posted my “rules” for knitting. I’ve been knitting forever (forever being 30+ years) sometimes my portable project and easy project are one and the same, but the other two are pretty much on my needles at all time. (But sometimes I find those rules confining, especially if I have a gift or something that needs to be done while I have 4 other projects going…then I have to decide “break the rule….or finish something…”)

  4. You very eloquently put into words what I’ve been trying to accomplish. Variety is the spice and all that! The shawl is coming along nicely!

  5. I didn’t see my button repairs for my shirt , vest or pants listed with your projects…hmmm !

  6. Great rules. I had the same parameters for my projects until I found I wasn’t ever actually finishing anything. Now it’s one portable, which is a sock, and another not-so-portable one.

  7. I say different projects for different times/places. I have many projects going on at once, but only one is stalled because I don’t know whether I really want to continue it.
    My problem is stash control. I now have a sweater-to-be that’s living under my desk at work. What rules should be applied to yarn stash???

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