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Mar 12, 2013

WIPs: How Many are Too Many?

How many WIPs are too many? This is the question I’ve been wrestling with lately.

As a knitter, one of my greatest weaknesses is I have more ideas than time. This means I fight a constant battle between what I want to knit (all the things, all at once) and what I can knit (a few things, not all at once).

Theoretically, I’m showing remarkable restraint, because at the moment, there are only three projects on the needles:

Afghan: Yet to be Named
(This project is well underway, but it's too gloomy to take a current photo.)

Cowl/Neckwarmer: Touch Me Not

              


So what's the problem? Well, there are multiple concept swatches in various stages of completion, and there’s at least one ancient UFO cowering in the cupboard. I’m also scouting patterns and stitch dictionaries for several projects in the immediate line up:

I’m fighting the overwhelming urge to start more swatches and cast on all the things, all at once.

One discovery is helping me exercise restraint. Strangely, I’ve observed that in the knitting zone (often similar to the Twilight Zone), casting on tends to create more WIPs. The more WIPs on the needles, the less time and effort I can devote to any one project.  

More WIPs means fewer FOs in the near term, even though they might translate into more FOs in the long run. Eventually. Some day. Way off in the misty future. (It took years, for example, to decide and then convert the Swafghan from a sweater into the Color Check afghan.)

In short, for me too many WIPs can be distracting. Too few WIPs can be demotivating.

How many WIPs are too many? I still don’t know. I was hoping you had the answer.


14 comments:

  1. 3 is definitely my limit. At 4 I start to worry about ever finishing anything ever again, for all the reasons you post. At 2 I feel smug and at 1 somewhere between bored and frantic.

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    1. Funny, isn't it? On paper, there's little difference between 3 and 4, but in real life, that one extra project often tilts everything out of kilter.

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  2. I'm not sure I have the answer, and it might be a different answer for everyone, but I'm most comfortable with 2-3 WIPs. Anything more than that makes me a bit stressed out. And almost always one of those WIPs is socks.

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    Replies
    1. Three tends to be a good number for me, too. One of these days, I plan to tackle socks ...

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  3. Three is my limit, too, for all the reasons you and others have listed. More than that and I lose focus, less than that and I lose my mojo.

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    Replies
    1. Your description captures me and my tendencies quite nicely.

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  4. Any more than 3 and I start to loose interest. I have two UFOs languishing and who knows if I will ever get abck to them. Current serious knitting is a baby sweater and a capelet. But the urge to cast on a shrug is great!!! Maybe I will try to convince myself to go back to one of the UFOs before I allow that?

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    Replies
    1. Ditto. I finished one major UFO recently, and it was such a great feeling, I'm determined to frog or finish the other big UFO that's cowering in the cupboard.

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  5. I have 20. And that's just what's documented in my Ravelry. There are experiments and swatches too. There are just too many things I wasnt to knit! Whenever I think I'll get it down, another 5 things come out that I want to knit! Oh well...as long as I'm knitting, things get done.

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    Replies
    1. Twenty!? I'm in awe. You have my respect and admiration ...

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  6. Ohhhh, tricky question! I guess it depends on each individual. I usually have anywhere from 4 to 10. I am the type of knitter who gets bored very easily. I need a lot of different types of projects on hand. My knitting is also heavily influenced by the weather and season. But the advantage to having a whole bunch of WIP's is that eventually they turn into FO's. Plus, I am never without something interesting to knit.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like you've found just the right balance, good for you!

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  7. I am the kind of person who can become obsessed with a to-do list. I looove scratching things off. I therefore have few WIPs on the go at once, because the guilt from not finishing something can be way high. Usually, if I leave something unfinished, it's because I am missing the material to finish it. Does that make me a weird knitter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same way about my To Do list. Love that moment when I get to mark something as finished.

      What is this you speak of called "weird knitter"? Am pretty sure there's no such thing.

      Delete

Thanks for sharing your comments and insights, I enjoy each and every one. If you have questions, share those too, and I'll do my best to respond.
-b

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