Friday, July 23, 2010

Schedule Update

Hi there. When we last met, I showed you my new method for scheduling knitting projects to get my top priorities done over the summer. The most interesting part of this exercise is that I am beginning to discover how UFOs happen.

There seems to be a random ebb and flow of resistance to projects.

Yet it is not quite random.

I think that our logical friend from Star Trek, Mr. Spock, can give us insight.

But first, let me take you through the past two weeks. (Kim thinks everyone has Super Powers; allow mine to be time travel.)


I will begin with the simple project. Last week, I did the four rounds on Kevin's sweater first. (Trust me that you do not want to see a picture of this sweater. It is a blue stockinette sweater on a circular needle, which gathers and bunches it at the top. It has looked exactly the same for months.) I began the project with lots of knitting and great progress, but I have, for the past year, been resisting this sweater.

When I scheduled myself, I decided that if I just did 4 rounds a week, it would get done, and I would be happy. The rounds seemed easy, and at the beginning of last week, I figured I'd immediately get them done to check them off. It was painless.

This week the resistance is back in full force, and I am kicking and screaming about the same project. I cannot fathom this. It is the same thing: get 4 rounds done. I still haven't done it.


Last week I did the two blocks on my mini-wrap, and I have two more done for this week with one to go. The wrap is coming along nicely:

Isn't that fun? Not even one kick or one scream. It is something I looked forward to in the schedule both weeks. (I do not trust this excitement: I know from experience that my feelings could change at any moment.)


Both last week and this week, I worked on my thrummed mitten:

Thrumming takes a while, so I resisted it a little, but it was in the schedule, so I did my job, sat down, worked on it, and it's so .... fluffy! .... On the inside! You can't tell from this picture.


And then there was my sweater. This was a Noro pattern made with Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Bulky yarn (in a wonderful teal color with royal blue flecks that is discontinued of course--Oh Cruel Retail).

My goal last week was to finish knitting all the pieces.

I resisted that like crazy. I don't know why. I like the yarn. I was with Kevin's family, and I always enjoy chatting with them and working on simple stockinette. But somehow, I just didn't want to work on this sweater. It was, however, the last thing remaining on the schedule. I had no choice.

There are rules.

By Sunday, the pieces were all finished, and my job this week was to sew it together. The sewing? I didn't resist that in the least. I blocked the living daylights out of it using a direct iron on the wrong side, with huge bursts of steam and plenty of Best Press to keep the bottom edges flat. I was fearless. The button band curls in no matter what, but it looks great anyway, so I didn't care. I enjoyed sewing it and watching it come together.

As of today, the sweater is done, down to the buttons:

Hi. I am so happy in a bulky wool sweater in 94-degree heat.

I love this sweater. Now I want another one. (In November.)

And I still wonder: What was so bad about that?

I have one more day (plus the rest of this evening) to go in my schedule, and I still need to knit 4 rounds on Kevin's sweater, finish the rest of a log-cabin block, finish the thrummed mitten, finish a block in the mini-wrap, and knit a snowflake. As you can see, my schedule may be a bit too ambitious. But I planned it that way--to push myself. One of my rules is that I can't start the next week's schedule until the current week is done.

This means that the mitered vest, which is scheduled for next week, and which I really, really want to work on, will just have to wait while I resist every other project on the list.

Do you know why?

Are you ready for the ending?

"After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. it is not logical, but it is often true."

--Mr. Spock

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On Schedules

I've always liked making lists and setting goals. "Control" is of course an ethereal reality, but if you have a list, and you have some goals, you can at least attempt to move forward with the little things you want to do in life.

Before we started the store, I was always a one-project person: I would choose a really, really difficult pattern to make, spend about 6 months making it, and then choose the next really, really difficult pattern.

Now that we have a store, however, that doesn't work. I need to do projects for classes and inspiration. And of course, I get inspired myself, being around all those beautiful things. The ideas are a constant stream!

But sometimes it gets just a little out of hand. I don't know what to work on, when to work on it, or what's important.

The other day I looked in my closet and saw that I had over 30 projects going. Okay. That's when it's time to get some control back. When this has happened before, I've tried limiting myself to 3 projects at a time to get myself more focused--but even though that helped, it didn't always work. The long-term projects needed to be broken out differently.

I joked to Kevin that I needed a PERT chart to organize it. (Can you tell I used to work in an engineering firm?)

And then I realized that maybe this was no joke. Some kind of chart to organize it all would be great. I could figure out how much time I thought each project would take, and then I would schedule it in. Some projects--the long-term ones--needed to be broken into small pieces so that I wouldn't neglect other projects.

I spent about 5 very-worthwhile hours pulling all the projects out, deciding what mattered most, and figuring out what I really, really wanted to have done by the end of the summer. I charted it out:

I was tempted to put it on the computer to make it tidier, but I had already spent enough time on it. It did not need to be pretty. This is a practical document.

Down the left side, I listed each project that I wanted to finish this summer. Across the top, I broke out the weeks. Then I split the projects, if needed, into subgoals. (I do have another page of projects that goes into August, in case you were wondering.) I decided to stop at the end of August. At that point, I'll regroup for fall, depending on how far I got.

Then I plunged in and started actually knitting.

It is working beautifully. This week, my goals included doing 4 rounds on Kevin's sweater. Check. (I am going to keep doing 4 rounds a week until his sweater is finished.) I wanted to do blocks 8 and 9 of the mini-shawl. Block 8 is done as of tonight; block 9 is a piece of cake. I wanted to do most of a block on a log-cabin blanket I'm designing, then finish it next week. Check for this week. I want to finish my thrummed mittens to the point where I am past the thumb. That is for tomorrow morning. And I have a simple sweater I'm working on, made on large needles; it is low-hanging fruit. The goal there is to have the pieces knitted this week, and sewn next week. I'm on my way with that: two quick sleeves to go. I think it's doable.

In between, I'm free-motion quilting. I am doing that just a little bit at a time as well. Fortunately, I have only about 10 quilting or sewing projects--so I figure they don't require a chart. I'll just work on them as I can, but not be afraid to tackle them in 15-30 minute increments. Updates, reports, and pictures soon.

What would you like to get done? How could a chart like this work for you?

(How about getting ready for Christmas now instead of waiting until the November Panic?)