I realised this week that I have 100 finished projects recorded on Ravelry. If you look at my Ravelry project page, it says I have 119 projects – however, this number includes WIPs, frogged projects, and so-called “hibernating” projects. Thus, I didn’t notice right away that my Sayer tank was the 100th FO (finished object). I have, of course, knitted many more than that in the 50 years that I have been knitting; however, since my Ravelry account was started in December 2007 (I was Raveler #51878), I have recorded 100 finished projects.
Since this was a lovely autumn day, I gathered up all of the hand-knitted projects I had in the house (those I had knitted myself) and piled them up outside for some photos. Here I am covered from head to toe in hand-knitted items:
Given my general tendency towards nerdiness, this realisation – of reaching 100 FOs – immediately caused me to collect data on my projects. (This task also prevented me from engaging in other tasks, like house cleaning.) Of the 100 projects, 49 are sweaters! The distribution by project type is as follows:
Obviously, I am a sweater kind of girl; these are by far my favorite projects. Of the sweaters, 31 are pullovers and 18 are cardigans. Most of them are for me: 30 are for me, 6 for Emma, 8 for Leah, 2 for Doug, and 3 for babies. (Yes, I am a selfish knitter!) That said, most of the mitts, cowls, skirts, and other things were gifted.
Of the 100 projects, 16 are either my designs or things I just fooled around with and came up with on my own (but aren’t really “designs”). Of the other 84 projects, there are only a few repeat designers, which follow:
5 projects designed by Kim Hargreaves
3 projects designed by Carol Feller
2 projects designed by each of:
Lily M. Chin
Ashley Adams Moncrief
The remaining 64 projects were designed by 64 different designers. I think that makes me pretty inclusive!
My favorite garments: my Ormolu (blogged here), Doug’s Brick (blogged here and here), Emma’s Audrey (blogged here) and Leah’s Peloponnese (blogged here). The most fun thing to knit: The Tolkien-inspired giant pillow I knit for Leah (blogged here). The knitted garment that has been worn the most: Emma’s Carnaby skirt (blogged here). And my favorite accessory: my own Cool Boots Shawl (blogged here).
In the 100, there are only 3 items which I have knit twice. These are my Wedgewood Mitts (blogged here and here, and knitted with elephants too), Kim Hargreaves’ Audrey (blogged here and here) and Lily M. Chin’s Cabled-Rib Shawl (blogged here and here).
I like this photo where you can just see my boots peeking out from under the great pile of knits:
That’s enough nerdiness for today! Seeing how few hats I’ve knit, I’m off to cast one on!
too many patterns
only so many unique things can be done with yarn and two needles
Like a virus (or bipolar disorder), the disease cycles – between being completely overwhelmed with all of the fabulousness of hundreds of great patterns and wanting to knit everything, and feeling completely underwhelmed and thinking “seen that, done that”; these up-down-up-down swings can cause emotional distress.
Symptoms of Pattern Bombardment Syndrome can range from mild to severe. Learn to recognize early warning signs:
spending hours on Ravelry, knitting blogs and other on-line knitting-related sites, aimlessly surfing through patterns in an increasingly apathetic manner
looking at a new release (say of BT or Twist Collection) and needing to sit on your hands to keep from buying 20 patterns when deep down you know that you will at the most possibly knit one of them
losing your knitting mojo
looking at a pattern and immediately calling to mind ten other patterns which are very nearly the same
realizing that you are subconsciously tracking which patterns make it to the top of Ravelry’s “Hot right now” page and how long they stay there for
catching yourself drooling while looking at knitting sites
spending time analyzing the effect of social media savviness on why one pattern will succeed wildly when another will not
waking up at 3am to see if the new spring edition of [insert online knitting mag here] has just been released; and then checking it again at 4am
becoming a designer fan girl
becoming increasingly annoyed at designer-fan-girl-dom
being unable to pick a new project because you have 700 items in your queue
put down the laptop and go for a walk
stop putting patterns in your queue
better yet, get rid of your queue
limit your time on knitting sites
spend more time knitting and less time thinking, talking, reading about knitting
spend more time doing things completely unrelated to knitting
stop being obsessive
think carefully about what you want to knit and don’t be a slavish trend follower
re-position yourself on the product knitter-process knitter continuum; it’s OK to shift towards one end or the other at different points in your knitting life
remind yourself that knitting is supposed to be fun; it’s not a competitive sport
A few weeks back I wrote a post called Now I know I’m crazy. I was referring to the fact that I had just started an MBA course, while still working full-time, just as my last kid flew the nest. That is crazy, without a doubt. In this post, I want to talk about another kind of crazy. Now, for those of you who aren’t on Ravelry (which is the greatest knitting tool ever devised), I will digress for a minute. Each user on Ravelry has a projects page, where they store their knitting projects. Below is a screen shot of part of my projects page.
Each photo is of a knitted project; you can click on the photo to pull up an individual page where details and more photos can be stored, including start and end dates for the project, pattern details, yarn used, modifications, notes, etc. These projects can be organized in any number of ways, but the majority of knitters use the default options whereby your WIPs (works in progress) come first, followed by your finished projects in reverse chronological order. The first two photos, in the top row left, show my two WIPS – the Soumak Scarf Wrap and the Exeter jacket. If you have very good eyes and you squint carefully at this screen shot, you will see that the top right-hand corner of these two photos is marked “wip”. The other photos show my completed knitted projects in order of finishing – the purple Viajante shawl was just finished last week; the green Flecktone mitts in the second row where finished in early January this year (this has been a rather slow year for me on the knitting front) and the rest were among the projects I finished in 2012.
By definition, a WIP is a project which has been cast on (thus, is “on the needles” as we knitters say). I normally try to have between 2 and 5 WIPs going at any one time. Two, because it is good to have more than one given the vagaries of interest and time and concentration (i.e. some projects need lots of quiet and focus and others can be done while simultaneously cooking dinner and helping your kids with their homework). Five because, well, its hard to keep track of too many; experience tells me that five is about my upper limit.
Now, I spend a lot of time surfing Ravelry, looking at other people’s projects, patterns, etc. When I see something I like, I click on that knitter’s project page. My eye first goes to the number of projects – on my page above you can see that it says ’61 projects’. That means that I have loaded up details and photos of 61 projects (these are just those that I have knitted since joining Ravelry, though even some of those I haven’t bothered to enter). Note that this 61 includes the two WIPs and 59 completed projects. You can often make a sort of initial assumption about the knitter by the number of projects – someone with less than 10 is likely a beginner. Someone with 100 is likely pretty good. (These often have no correlation to reality; the knitter with 10 may have knit hundreds of beautiful sweaters over a long lifetime and has only just discovered Ravelry, or perhaps just got access to a digital camera; the knitter with 100 may have just knit 100 garter stitch dish cloths and showcased each individually.) Then, I scroll down the page and check out all of the projects. I click on those I particularly like and take a closer look. Sometimes, I will make comments, or add someone to my friends so I can follow their future knitting activity.
The other day, I came across someone who had over 300 projects. When I scrolled down, I noticed that she had lots of WIPs. I mean LOTS of WIPs. For each one, she had a photo, of a knitting needle with a few rows of knitting on it, and a link to the pattern and the type and amount of yarn set aside for the project. I couldn’t help myself, I started counting. This knitter had over 240 WIPs. I hope not to offend anyone by saying this, but this strikes me as totally insane. This is CRAZY.
Let me try to enumerate the reasons why:
Each of these WIPs is cast on and is thus “using” a knitting needle, or set of needles. Let us say that your knitting needles cost $5 each (using US currency here for no particular reason, and probably underestimating the cost of a needle). This means that you have $1200 worth of knitting needles wasting away in your WIP pile. This means that, unless you own a knitting store or manufacture the needles yourself, it is very likely that you never have a needle handy when you want to cast on, and will have to keep buying more and more and more.
Each of these projects takes yarn. Let us say that, on average, each project takes $30 worth of yarn. (I will point out, that for me at least, this is a wild underestimation of yarn costs.) This means that you have $7200 worth of yarn sitting around, dedicated to WIPs (thus, I will repeat, “on the needles”).
This means that you need to have some way to keep track simultaneously of 240 patterns, 240 swatches, plus notes and modifications for each one. I know that Ravelry makes this easier, but still this seems ludicrous. For example, I have two WIPs at the moment, but every time I pick up my Exeter jacket after having been knitting something else, I have to spend some time re-familiarizing myself with the complex cable patterning, and looking over my notes to get back on track with where I left off. Plus, my fingers have lost the “feel” for the pattern, and I sometimes have to re-learn the finger memory. With 240 projects, you will never feel on-track and will constantly be re-familiarizing yourself with each one.
I don’t know about you, but my tastes change. The project that I found pretty two years ago, may not appeal to me today. Trends in yarns, patterns and colours change all the time. Why have 240 projects picked out today, each with yarn and resources already committed to it, when tomorrow you may not even like them?
In 2012, I knit 13 projects. That was a pretty average year for me. If I steadily knit away at this rate, finishing 13 projects per year, it would take me OVER 18 YEARS to finish those 240 WIPs. And that is assuming that in that 18 years I don’t cast on anything else. Even if you knit three times as fast as I do, it would still take you over 6 years to finish, and my bet is that anyone who currently has 240 WIPs will not stop casting on.
In short, dear readers, this is seriously crazy. Of course, we all have our own brand of craziness, and this one at least isn’t harming anyone. Live and let live, after all. It might help keep knitting needle manufacturers and yarn producers in business. It could be that centuries from now, archeologists will find great basements full of thousands of ziplock plastic baggies each containing a knitting needle supporting a few rows of decaying yarn remnants, and come to some interesting conclusions about early 21st century life.
I do, however, have one request for the WIP-addicted knitter: PLEASE, sort your project page so the WIPs are at the bottom.