When Too Many Projects Overwhelm

Photo of knitting the Flax sweater

Fall, fall, we all fall into fall.

I am in a snarl of too many projects and can’t seem to find my way out.

The problem with too many projects is that nothing gets done. My projects are like reflections of my moods and whichever pulls me at the moment is the one that gets worked on. But when I have a lot of projects, it starts to feel narcissistic. Or like a form of multiple personality disorder. How do I feel RIGHT NOW? What project is the perfect match for my state of mine in this genuine moment? Which garment type? This stitch complexity? That color?

And when I catch myself tangled up with indecision that granular and, frankly, insignificant, that’s when the herd gets culled. It’s for my mental health after all. I want to work on my projects, not just think about them. I want the satisfaction of finishing in a reasonable amount of time.

Here’s a pic I posted to Instagram this weekend:
A photo of knitting works-in-progress

So here’s the list of things on the needle (which I have touched in the past month; never mind the things that are already back-burnered) — clockwise from top left if you like a visual, with links to Ravelry project pages if you want more info:

  • Gift socks for the holidays. I started a new pair of socks last week. I’m trying to work on it when the recipient isn’t home. By which I mean I’m trying to not work on it when the recipient is home. Those aren’t the same things.
  • A sock sample for Washtenaw Wool Co. in our half-stripe/half speckle dye application.
  • Sockathon #2, my neverending quest to knit up scrappy socks with leftover sock yarn. I still love working on this and it’s small enough that I almost always have it with me.
  • Cowl design, long overdue, half knit up.
  • Wheaten scarf in Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, my impulse purchase at Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool Festival. This yarn is so delicious (100% BFL) and I have been wanting to knit this pattern for a long time.
  • Susanna IC’s Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-long, from August/September. I’m about halfway done. I was really enjoying this project, but had to set it aside for some deadline knitting. It’s a relatively easy knit and the yarn—old Koigu KPPPM liberated from my sister’s stash—is delicious.
  • Flax sweater in Shepherd’s Wool, started for a class I was teaching. I screwed up the sleeve garter panel and need to rip and reknit the whole thing. Sigh.
  • Thrummed mittens for a class I’m teaching, pattern of my own devising. (Not pictured; don’t know where they’re at! Somewhere in the house.)

I am harsh at this point. No matter how many projects I am considering, I always narrow the list to two, one that takes concentration and one that doesn’t. With focus, things get done quickly — sometimes even just a day or two — and then I can get back to other items on the list. Or, with the distance of time, I’ll decide something isn’t working for me and I’ll rip it out (usually precipitated because I need the needles or the storage space).

I know which two projects it needs to be.

Not a Convert to Toe Up Socks

Photo of toe-up socks knit in Koigu KPPPM

When I first learned to knit socks 13 years ago, I was taught on double pointed needles, top down.

Photo of handknit socks

In fact, that sock project was my first adult knitting project.  (My friend and teacher Liz and I have many things in common, one of them being that we like challenging projects.)

I have merrily churned my way through — oh my god, Ravelry does not lie! — 47 pairs of socks over the years, most of them top down and usually on DPNs.  It’s just what feels right.  If I am doing plain a vanilla sock, I will gladly take it with me to the movies.  Do you know how much knitting you can get done in the dark when you just have to go round and round?!

In 13 years I’ve knit 2 pairs (and some partials) of toe up socks.  The first pair was knit almost 10 years ago in an orange colorway of Koigu KPPPM that was given to me as a gift.  I loved the yarn, but the socks came out baggy.  Whatever.  I still liked them and I wore them until I wore them out (vowing never to knit socks with Koigu KPPPM again!) and stuck with my top down approach for the next many years.

Photo of toe-up socks knit in Koigu KPPPM

As my knitting skills progressed and I met other knitters who had their favorite ways, I decided I should give it another shake.  I cast on with some orange and red patterned Opal and got stuck at the heel.  Those sat for a while.  Like a couple years in the WIP basket.  I loved the yarn too much to never have socks out of it so I bravely ripped it out last year.

On impulse this fall, I bought some Patons Kroy self-striping yarn that was on sale at the big box store.  It was rainbow-y and under $10 for a pair, what can I say?  I decided this was my moment to try toe-up again, so I could use every bit of the yarn.  With a little help — encouragement, scolding, and nudging — from my friends, I made it through and knit the entirety of both skeins.

Photo of toe-up socks knit in Patons Kroy

 

This pair of toe up socks fits better in that they are not baggy, but they have problems. I hate the kitchener toe, which sticks out and won’t shape to my foot even after being worn and washed for three months.  Also, these tall socks have no shaping for my Hungarian peasant calves, so they bunch up around my ankles.  I wear them around the house rather than try to stuff them in my shoes for both of those reasons.  Since they contain nylon and get a little less wear than my other warm socks, they will probably last forever.  First world problems, eh?

I know there are things I could do to make toe-up socks work for me, but I think I am at the point in my knitting life where socks are background, comfort knitting that I do not want to think about.  Maybe I’ll try again in a few years; maybe not.

With not much more than a shoe size or foot length measurement, I can cast on a knit anyone a pair of socks with the formula in my head.  Why mess with something that works?

What’s your comfort knitting project?

The Gray Got to Me

Last year I started these socks:

The cuff of gray wool socks knit out of Paton's Kroy on double pointed needles

It was July.  It was my birthday, in fact.  I thought I was safe from the curse of knitting a gray project in winter.

Alas, I was overcommitted on projects and my work on these progressed very slowly.

Before I knew it, it was winter.  Have I complained enough about the long, cold, snowy winter of 2013-14?  Yeah, somewhere around the fifth snow day following the Winter Vacation of Vomit, I threw these socks in the bottom of a project bag, faintly promising myself I would come back to them when they stopped reminding me of sadness.

So I picked them back up again this summer, in August, and I knew I had to get them done QUICK because the long range forecasts for the upcoming winter are bad for Michigan.  You can read that as:

  1. I need some wool socks before the snow flies, and;
  2. I can’t be knitting anything gray when the snow flies.

I had the first, half-knit sock done in a week and the whole shebang done by the time school started.

But I did a thing to make them happy grey socks.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love Patons, but I am reexamining my relationship with neutrals.)  I took some leftover sock yarn from my Jaywalkers — knit in Conjoined Creations Flat Feet — and added in some brightly colored toes.  Yey!  Color = happiness!

Handknit gray wool socks

 

What do you think?

Next time I’ll do stripes.  I have more grey, white, and black Patons — and lots of colorful fingering weight yarns — and I have learned my lesson.