At the moment, I am resisting a WIP sidebar. It's embarrassing. It's a lot. It's a character flaw that pervades my life. I don't really want to know the answer.
What constitutes a WIP? If I have bought a pattern & the yarn for a specific pattern, but have not even begun, is it a WIP? If I have let go of the idea that I'll ever finish the project but still have it in a box somewhere, is it still a WIP? Is there a time limit whereby the item just expires off the list, sort of like doctoral candidacy?
At my guild meeting a few months ago, we did one of those team-building-type games that happen at corporate retreats--dig a question out of a paper bag, turn and interview your neighbor, bond, repeat.
One of the questions was, "How many items do you have in progress?" Most people worked on only one item at a time. A few guiltily confessed to two. Fortunately, it wasn't my turn to answer the question. I keep hoping that at least some of these women were lying. They said eminently sensible things like, "If I work on too many at once, I'll never finish," or, "I'm afraid I would lose interest if I started something new."
They are right, of course, but I am drawn to the new nonetheless. I have sweaters, wraps, afghans, socks, vests, gauntlets, hats, and god only knows what else in process. In fact, the dream project, the project that inspired me to learn to knit many years ago, has never even been begun. And that's just the unfinished knitting projects.
It once took me 12 years to finish a pair of socks, so I know it's possible. I'm also seriously contemplating turning an intricately knit Aran sweater into a pillow because I never could get the row gauge to match the stitch gauge, and I don't like three-quarter length sleeves even when they're done intentionally. I have made enough of a commitment to letting go of the sweater that I have used some of the yarn to make a pair of socks--socks that I actually finished, socks that have now been worn several times by the recipient--yet the sweater body remains on the pins.
I put things down for legitimate reasons, I tell myself--gauge problems, fitting problems, math problems, pooling problems, or assembling problems.
I can even tell myself that by working on multiple projects in a variety of needle sizes and yarns I am avoiding repetitive motion injuries like tendonitis and carpal tunnel. That practice actually works very well, but really I'm just kidding myself.
I am currently working on a lovely pair of lace socks from Knitting Vintage Socks. The first one came out great--a bit tight in the foot, but there's a high cotton content to the yarn, so I'm thinking they'll stretch. I'm about 1/3 of the way down the calf on the second sock. I've even gotten to the point where I've memorized the 10-row lace pattern. I am enjoying knitting these socks.
At an open house and sale at a LYS yesterday, what did I buy? More sock yarn. This yummy, sweet, 100% cotton sock yarn called Crazy Cotton by Schachenmayr.
Faced with a pile of papers to grade, did I actually grade? Clean the house? Work on my lovely, lacy sock? Tackle any of the many UFOs in my sewing room? No, I began a project on the Crazy Cotton and knitted about 70 rows. The yarn is wonderful to knit, slipping through my fingers in shimmery loops. The randomness of the self-striping enraptures me. I've thought about it all morning.
I am telling myself this Crazy Cotton project will make a perfect Christmas present, yet I have already bought this recipient a Christmas present, bought it on December 26, 2005, in fact. And yet I knit on.
Knitting stockinette with sock yarn on size 2 needles is not enough of a difference from knitting lace on size 1s to help with the whole repetitive motion problem. I can feel the burn in the back of my bicep already. The side of my elbow hurts when it presses against the arm of the wingback. If I am not careful, I will end up not able to knit for several weeks, months maybe. And yet I knit on.
Here, at least, is a useful knitting tip. If you are the type of person who lays down a WIP for a few weeks, frog at least 2-3 rows when you pick it up again. Doing so will prevent a visible line from where your yarn rested on the needles for those weeks, waiting for your return. Trust me, I know this from experience.