Most creative people have more than one project on the go at once, and their WIPs (Work in Progress) just start piling up. I certainly do! Some folks really love the excitement of starting something new and straight up just don’t finish their projects. For the most part though, having more than one project on the go is a good thing.
I can only speak for myself. I have quite a number of unfinished projects on the go. They range from small items that just need a little bit of finishing to large projects that got away on me. Like anyone, I make different things for different reasons. Sometimes it’s about learning a new skill. I’ll take on a new pattern just because it forces me to learn that technique that I’ve been admiring for who knows how long. Of course the danger of these projects is that if you get confused or make a mistake and have to take it apart to fix it it can undermine your enthusiasm. These projects can easily end up tossed aside out of frustration. I find that once I’ve set one of these aside in disgust, it’s really hard to pick it back up. For me, these tend to be the ones that I should just frog and be done with.
I enjoy making socks. I like to have two sock projects on the go at once; one that is a compete no-brainer and one that forces me to think. There’s no point in working on the challenging one when you are visiting though. That’s just asking for a whole lot of trouble. That’s what the no-brainers are for!
Sometimes I start something because I found yarn that I just couldn’t resist. I generally have at least one WIP to represent this category. Well, maybe two… or three. Then there are the projects that I started because the pattern was so gorgeous that it called out to me; hey, how is a girl supposed to resist that? Yup, then there are the items that I start for a specific purpose: gauntlets to wear when I’m sewing so I don’t freeze in the store (the door opens and closes a lot, so it gets cold in the winter). Birthday presents, Christmas presents… Oh, and a couple of those mash-ups that seemed like a good idea at the time. There’s usually one where the size I started is wrong and I crocheted or knitted enough that it makes me feel sick thinking about ripping it out to start over. Some of the WIPs in my to-do basket are really close to being done, but I got to a complicated bit in the pattern that I was having trouble figuring out and I just need to carve out a couple hours without anyone talking to me so I can get them done. Or all the parts are made and just need to be sewn together.
I think having a variety of WIPs on the go is a great way to accommodate my changing moods. The one I pick up to work on is the one that suits how I’m feeling that day. (Or, it’s the one I have to finish for someone’s birthday.) But there’s a fine line. It’s like this low level anxiety starts to creep in for me when my WIP pile gets a certain size. I have learned over the years that when I start feeling that, it’s time to get serious. That’s when I have to be strong and call on my inner Amazon Warrior to resist the startitis that is always teasing and tempting me to start something new. And the reality is that those quivering seedlings of overwhelm that have started to send down roots are very real in my world. They drain my energy. That’s just not cool. That’s when it’s time to get ruthless!
Sometimes, the best course of action is to admit which of my WIPs are hopeless causes that I will never make good on. This is where my handy-dandy ball winder becomes my best friend. As I summon the intestinal fortitude to pull the needles out of the project and begin the “rip-it, rip-it” that has come to be known as “frogging”, I can turn my attention to how much my inner 5-year old loves winding up the yarn on my ball winder. It happily distracts me from thinking about all the lost-forever hours that each crocheted or knitted and purled row of my project represents. And when that doomed project is nothing more than a memory, I have a neat and tidy ball of yarn to put back into my stash to wait for its turn to be reincarnated. Hey, now that is the work of an Amazon Warrior, HA! So there!
I have yet to meet anyone who likes sewing up their knitted projects. So that’s the next step in conquering my surplus WIP pile. This is another job for the inner Amazon Warrior who squares her shoulders to ruthlessly take on the quest at hand! In other words, suck it up princess; pull on your big girl panties and just do it! ;P You know that once you get into it and make some progress you’ll actually start getting excited about that WIP becoming a “WOO HOO! I did it!” instead. (Hmmm would that be a WHIDI? LOL)
The next step for me, is to look for which WIP is the closest to being finished and it gets short shrift. Usually by this point, I have come to terms with a couple projects that I really just don’t want to complete. My warrior mission has taken on some momentum by now and out comes the ball winder yet again.
Before I know it, my WIP pile has been reduced to a reasonable size. Reasonable for me, and that’s what really matters. And at that point, I am free to indulge in the intoxicating thrill of starting a new project! YAY!