How to Finish Projects Without Really Trying

A few weeks ago, I posted that anyone with class ideas or suggestions should let me know because a class planning meeting was on the horizon. A local knitter came up to me at my son’s school and said, “I have a class idea for you. I want you to teach a class on how to finish projects when you have children.”

She was joking — I think — but I do get asked this a lot. How do I complete knitting projects in the midst of motherhood (one child in school full-time, one at home full-time), marriage, vacations, random home & car repairs — you know, life? To shed some light on how I manage, I thought I’d share my guidelines for successfully completing projects in a timely manner. In fact, following these simple rules may even make it feel like you don’t even have to really try to finish.

How to Complete Projects Without Really Trying
by Knitting Sarah
1) Strength in numbers. Have more than one project going. I usually have a couple super easy things going that I can easily pick-up & put-down and at least one or two things that are a little harder in case I start to get bored.
2) Choose wisely. If you are watching & interacting with your kids or cheering on your favorite team in the play-offs, don’t try to knit lace or anything that involves counting or focus. Pick a project to work on that takes as much attention as you have to give it.
3) Stolen minutes. The bulk of my knitting time is laced with interruptions. If I waited until I had a nice, long relaxing block of time I would never get anything done. I knit while I’m waiting for water to boil or while my kids play together nicely. Steal those brief moments for yourself & your craft and they will add up.
4) Knit daily. I knit pretty much every day, even if for only 5 or 10minutes. Not only will the minutes add up as in #3, the more you knit the faster stitches will come off your needles. Quicker stitches = shorter project completion time.
5) Set realistic goals. A big draw for the sweater workshops I teach goes beyond the techniques & skills covered. It’s the schedule — an agenda that clearly states deadlines for finishing sections and the project as a whole. For almost every project I work on I make projections as to when I plan to finish. Make these goals reasonable — the point is not to rush through projects, but to give yourself a little structure & accountability. You’ll know you’re setting good goals if you feel great reaching them. If they are stressing you out, relax your deadlines.
6) Share your work. Sometimes it helps me to show my kids or husband what I’m making and tell them why I’m so excited to finish. Knowing it means something to me often makes them interested in my progress which in turn inspires me to make headway.
7) Use Ravelry. The tools for marking progress on Ravelry are great. Nothing feels better than changing a project’s status from ‘In Progress’ to “Finished’ (with a toothy grin, of course).
8) Knit al fresco. There are no rules that say you can’t knit outside. Or in a boat waiting for fish to bite. Or in the car (thank you, again, darling husband for driving). I know many knitters afraid of getting their work dirty outdoors. I bring almost anything out into the backyard with me when I’m watching my kids play. Use project bags & be mindful of where your work is & you’ll be fine. There is great woolwash out there, so a little dust or dirt never hurt anyone.
9) Location, location, location. Just like you need to chose projects appropriate for the attention you can give them, choose projects that work with where you are. Work on small projects like socks in the car. Take washcloths or more rustic projects camping. Work on your fancy lace & luxury sweaters in the comfort of your home. Likewise, remeber to pay attention to temperature of where you are. Don’t work on a bulky wool throw in the heat of August outside. That’s what sock & hat knitting are for.
10) Work on things you like. This sounds silly, but just say ‘no’ to projects for which you only have lukewarm feelings. Nothing makes a project stall faster than a lack of interest. Pick the projects that make you say, “Wow,” the ones you can’t stop thinking about. Those are the ones that will get done.