The pleasure of multitasking


img_1920How many WIPs do you have?

Sometimes I try to convince myself that I need to finish one thing before I start another. I tell myself that having aΒ sequence of events lets you start fresh when something you’ve worked on for so long is done. It helps avoid procrastination and it gives you a clean slate to start a new project.

Well… that’s great … in theory. πŸ˜€ I don’t think it works that way for knitters and crocheters all the time, though. And for crafters in general. First, I think it depends on personality. Some people are more productive if they don’t have many “works in progress” and in fact, find it distracting. They prefer to enjoy the process from start to finish before they get onto something else. Focusing on the process drives them: the planning, the materials, the beginning, the mistakes, starting over, finishing, and seeing their project in its full glory when it’s ready to be worn, hung up, used or wrapped as a present.

As crafters, we all love seeing the end product of our creativity and hard work. We all like finishing our work and showing it off by wearing it or displaying it in our homes. At the same time, many of us like to have a few unfinished projects on the go. For many years I have been hearing my mom’s voice in my head: “You have to finish something before you start something else”. Every time I wanted to stop in the middle of a sweater and start knitting a scarf, I would feel bad for leaving my sweater behind.

Until I realized…Β I wasn’t leaving it behind. I wasn’t even procrastinating. I was giving my brain a different direction so it can have a break from a difficult or time-consuming project. You’ve heard the expression: “I need a change of scenery.” That’s exactly what I was doing. If I knit an easy quick scarf in the middle of my big project, I actually felt more motivated to finish that big project after the scarf was done.

Then I found another benefit of having multiple projects on the go. No matter where I go or what my mood is for the day, I have a project to work on that corresponds to that day. If I am more restless (while waiting for the school district to call me and let me know which school accepted my son), I would knit a baby blanket which doesn’t need much counting of stitches or any complex shapes. If I feel home sick and I am thinking about my family who live far away, I knit something more complex to take my mind off of sad thoughts. Or if I know my husband, kids and I are going on a road trip, I’d absolutely bring my DPNs and circulars for quick cowls, hats, and leg warmers. And if we decide to rent a cabin and we are spending a weekend by the fire, I’d bring a new nordic pattern to work on while sipping tea and listening to the crackling of the logs.

I had a discussion about this “method of project management” with my mom recently. She admitted that this is a much better outlook than trying to convince ourselves that we are procrastinators or failures. It spins our thinking into a positive direction and gives us the motivation to try new things. Besides,Β if you are working on a few projects at the same time, chances are, you are going to finish some of them at the same time. And how sweet is it to say that you finished a scarf, a hat, and a sweater at the same time?! Nobody needs to know it took you several months (or a year πŸ˜‰ ) to do so.

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33 responses to “The pleasure of multitasking

  1. Oh I have lots, totally agree it depends on mood and circumstances which one I will work on. Quick count shows I have 6 spread across knitting, weaving and quilting. Life is about variety! Though I do like to finish things too and when I get close I get a bit more single minded about things.

    • That’s a great point that as you get closer to finishing you get more focused on that one project.
      Way to go juggling between different crafts. That’s fantastic πŸ™‚

    • I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time especially now that kids are back to school and the schedule is super busy. Thanks for mentioning it πŸ˜€ I’ll start my list tonight.

  2. I always have 2 current works or maybe 3 depending on what they are but I also have a bunch of UFOs I can work on should I feel the urge. Knitting one thing at a time never works for me. I end up getting bored.

    • Exactly!! It does get boring after a while. That’s why I like having a few quick projects that I like to see completed in a short time and others that can drag on for longer than I expected. lol

  3. I always have several WIPs going. Mostly because I don’t always have the same degree of mobility or wherewithal to work on any one thing, especially if it’s more difficult. I think your way of thinking about it is great πŸ™‚

  4. I think I have about 5 projects on the go right now. Sometimes I want to knit but don’t have the right mind to do something that requires a lot of thought so I have a couple of easier TV knitting projects, I have a small project to work on at the coffee shop, and then two larger more complex pieces that I need to concentrate on when I’m knitting.
    I can always knit but I can’t always count.

    • I couldn’t have said it better. Yes, it’s the counting that … counts… with some projects haha πŸ˜€ I can also knit in the dark if I have to but counting isn’t always possible.

  5. It’s true that when you have more than one WIP going at a time you can often finish several at the same time. That is exactly what happens to me. It’s like a cycle: wave of finished, wave of starting.

  6. I have several things going right now, and I’m feeling a little over the edge…I’ll have to think about this. I have enjoyed the variety, just feeling that things are a little cluttered at the moment. Maybe I have one too many big things in the works? An interesting question!

    • I think it comes down to inspiration too. Sometimes I just don’t feel it when it comes to a certain project. Or as you say, it feel cluttered and I don’t know where to start first. But there is always a day when everything becomes clear and I find a way to tackle it. πŸ™‚ The most important thing is… take it one step at a time πŸ™‚

  7. πŸ™‚ I always have a few WIP’s going at the same time. Big ones and smaller ones to carry along. Light ones and darker ones, for working on during the day and evening, depending on the light. Knit and crochet, so I can do either what I am in the mood for. And then maybe a stitching or embroidery project lurking about as well. Not to mention others, like something to paint or such.
    It is indeed nice to finish them, and some are completed soonest than others. πŸ™‚

  8. WIPS are a way of life for me, can’t have just one project on the go. I agree, sometimes you just need ‘a change of scene’ ie, move between difficult and no so difficult projects and different textures and shades and gauges – it keeps you interested!

  9. Never thought of it like that! Much better than me thinking “Shit, I’ve got 8 things on the go, I’m not allowed to start any more until I finish them!!”

  10. I have way too much going. I have started stuff and put things aside. I have 6 weeks off from sports blogging and have decided to take that time to try and finish things sitting around. Time to really manage

  11. I have several projects going on at a time. There’s almost always a pair of socks in my bag to keep me busy if I’m waiting somewhere. Then projects of various type and difficulty are in different stages, I grab whatever I’m in the mood for instead of looking at a single project at a time and thinking, nah that’s not what I want to do today.

  12. I am much like your mom. Plan, gather, start, work, exclude distraction, finish. That has been me my entire life. But knitting is a slow process and one that takes one stitch at a time. You have time (like it or not) to put yourself into every one of them. Because of my project/goal oriented mind, knitting is completely foreign. But I appreciate that it slows me down and allows me to pour myself into each stitch. That said, I still have that project mind. So I decided that having a project for every circumstance was actually quite productive while giving me, as you said, the choice to work on one over the other to suit the situation, mood, lighting, etc. Your words show me that knitters share much of the same spirit in more ways than just yarn acquisition (we all have the addiction). Thank you for reminding me.

    • I love your perspective on the matter. I agree that in other life projects and goals I do like things to be more linear. Start one thing, work towards it, and finish before I go onto the next. That system gives me a sense of stability and security. It puts the chaos into order. But when it comes to knitting, I feel more secure when I have a few things on the go. How strange is it?!
      So you raise a very important point that I hadn’t thought of before. I think knitting is one thing that can never go wrong beyond repair πŸ˜€ I mean no matter how much you work on a project, if you make a mistake you can go back and fix it. And probably that’s why we, as knitters, don’t really worry too much about satisfying our moods and just knit what we feel like in that moment.
      Thank you for contributing to the discussion. My learning continues… πŸ™‚

  13. HI, Thanks for sharing this. I can multitask in every area except reading. I have to start and finish one book at a time! So sad.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking it out!

    • It was my pleasure! I know what you mean about multitasking and reading. They don’t go together for me either. I have to finish one book before starting the next too. 😊

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