Historically I have wasted far too much time waffling about, swatching this that and the other thing, favoriting hundreds of great projects and patterns in Ravelry, downloading and printing binders and binders worth of terrific patterns and ideas, yet not actually committing to or finishing many projects.
I'm an ideas person, and I often create (and complete) things that seem like great ideas in my head, but never actually get used once they're made. These are things that, while lovely and interesting to make, are still totally impractical in my lifestyle. Think numerous lace shawls that rarely come out to play with utterly non-girly non-lacy me, heavy wool sweaters that make me feel like I'm burning alive, huge art quilt pieces that I don't have the wall space to hang, bags that are adorable but just to small or girly for me to ever use, etc.
This year, I will try to be more structured in my approach to crafting (knitting, crocheting, spinning, quilting and sewing). So I've set out a series of guidelines, methods and goals that will help me to complete 2009 with lots of FOs that are actually useful.
The Qualifiers (questions to ask myself BEFORE I start a new project)
- Will I actually use this? Not CAN I use this, as I can talk myself into just about any project with hypotheticals like "I could wear this shawl to the opera" and other unrealistic situations. Nope. Will I actually use this in my day to day life? This needs to be a "Keep it practical" check. If a garment or item won't fit into my regular lifestyle, it shouldn't be considered. For example, heavy wool pullovers are out, yet (surprisingly) delicate doilies are in (I like to center vases, candle holders, framed photos, etc on a doily - yes, I'm weird that way).
- Is this physically possible to construct? This is an important question to remember when I start thinking about bed quilts (we have a king sized bed, and quilts that large can be extremely difficult to quilt on a home machine) and purses (lining can be a pain in the ass, and hold up completion). There's no point wasting my time and materials starting something I'm physically unable to complete for logistical reasons.
- Do I need special tools / materials / skills to finish this project? This year I'm focusing on working from my stash (beads, yarns, fibres, fabrics, notions, etc), so I want to keep the additional purchases to a minimum. If a cardigan needs 15 buttons and I only have 12, then I need to restructure it to use 12. This may require some fussing about, but working from the stash will be my reward. Fine, fine, if I need a specific size and colour of zipper, I can go out and get that. But no running out to by lining fabric, cashmere, or 19 new colours of beads. Use the freakin' stash first!!!!
- Will this make me look utterly dorky? Okay, a little dorky I'm okay with. Let's face it - I'm in my late thirties, fat and not very well groomed. So a tailored slim fitting tank top is not a good look for me. This year I'll review my garment making choices (whether knitting, crocheting or sewing) a number of times before I commit, to ensure that I wasn't having a brief fit of overly positive thinking that will later bite me on my substantial ass.
The Quantifiers (now that I've set out The Qualifiers, above):
- I will use yarn / fibre / fabric from my stash for a minimum of 75% of my projects (by count, not by weight or volume).
- I will mix it up to avoid boredom. This includes craft, project type, scale, colour, etc.
- I will forgive myself the occasional lapse into swatching, sketching, or researching that goes nowhere. It happens. I can't always be productive, so I should stop beating myself up for spending the occasional day dithering.
- I will make more things for Tom. He will receive a lot of socks this year, and one sweater. And I will continue to work closely with him to ensure that the fit / colour / fabric / style pleases him, even when he greats a completed sock with "this needs an extra quarter inch of length in the foot, and then it will be perfect". If he is the intended recipient, he needs to be happy.
- I will do quality control. On everything. If I'm doubtful about fit / form / function, I'll set the project aside until I can look at it with an unbiased eye, and make proper decisions. Sometimes I need to step away from the needles!
- I will set goals. Lots of goals. Good, realistic, attainable goals. See below!
In order to structure my project output, I'm instituting required minimums for each quarter, plus goals for totals for the year.
The quarterly minimums will help to ensure that I have a variety in project scope and scale in each time period. And they are minimums - I can focus my project output to make more socks in one quarter and more sweaters in another, aiming to complete the annual goals while still maintaining the quarterly minimums overall. The idea is to vary my projects to keep things interesting, while still focusing enough to attain growth and experience in a variety of crafts. Sounds pretty good, eh?
So here are the current quarterly and annual goals (I may add to these later):
Quarterly: 2 pairs of socks (1 for each Tom and me)
Annual: a minimum of 12 pairs (6 for each Tom and me)
Quarterly: 1 sweater (cardigan or pullover)
Annual: 3-5 sweaters for me, 1 for Tom
Quarterly: 2 doilies (1 each knitted & crocheted)
Annual: set of 5 small knitted doilies for framing (art cluster), plus 2 crocheted doilies by each Mary Werst and Patricia Kristoffersen
Quarterly: 1 quilt (lap or bed)
Annual: 4 lap quilts, 2 bed quilts
Quarterly: 4 small knitted or crocheted winter accessory items
Annual: enough hats, cowls, scarves, mittens, etc to keep Tom and I both warm next winter
Quarterly: 1 bag, purse, tote or wallet
Annual: a variety of useful project bags, purses, etc (minimum 4 - they are a great way to showcase knitterly or crochet skills to the world, and darned useful!)
Quarterly: 1 handspun project (from fibre to yarn, then make a knitted or crocheted item)
Annual: 4 small scale and 1 large scale projects from handspun (I'd love a handspun shawl - not very practical, but a great showcase for handspun and a more realistic goal than a handspun sweater)
Quarterly: blog at least twice a month with progress updates
Annual: showcase every single completed project on the blog (in addition to putting all knitted and crocheted items on Ravelry) with an annual minimum of 26 blog postings (24 will be the twice monthly updates, plus this initial outline, plus a final year end wrap-up)
So, to get things kicked off, here are my specific goals for the first quarter of 2009:
- 1 Cardigan (for me)
- 2 pairs of TomSocks
- 2 pairs of BecSocks
- 2 cowls
- 2 lacy scarves
- 2 hats
- 1 pair of fingerless mitts
- 1 knitted doily
- 1 crocheted doily
- 1 bag
- 1 bed quilt
- 1 lap quilt
- 1 other quilted project (bag, pillow cover, or wall hanging)
- 1 project from handspun (can be one of the projects set out above, but I do want at least one thing finished from my own handspun yarn per quarter).
In an aside, I'm planning to add beads to all of my socks this year, focus on thicker socks for both Tom and myself, focus my cardigans/pullovers on easy care warm weather fibers (with one major exception - a cabled wool cardigan), and focus my quilting efforts on the quilting more than the piecing.
And finally, I will be open to change as it is needed, but will not actively seek change just because I'm feeling obstinate.