Five tips for planning projects that work in different situations

It’s often a starting point for conversation, how many projects am I working on at a time? I am not a fan of multi-tasking, so why do I keep multiple projects in the air?

The answer is straightforward:
I work on different types of projects in different situations, there are those reserved for TV viewing and others I can take out to coffee. In general, there’s at least one that requires my complete concentration.

On occasion, however, I find I need the ultimate low-stress project. Sometimes I need to work on something, but I also need the right project – one that I can’t screw up if I’m not in the right mindset.

I learned this lesson the hard way. Several years ago my mother had lengthy open heart surgery. A stockinette-in-the-round sweater body came with me to the hospital as I waited. As you can probably guess, my tension ended up all over the place. I ultimately ripped out all that I had knit that day.

I now have different criteria for pairing the right project to a situation. Following are five tips I use for choosing knit and crochet projects.

Tip 1: Project length

simple knittingDo I want something that will carry the memory with it after the specific time period? In general, I prefer to make something that I can finish off if not at the same time, then shortly after an event.

Tip 2: Craft & tool choice

While I can knit stockinette in a dark movie theater, I find it difficult to crochet. These situational factors help me decide if I’m going to knit or crochet. Tunisian crochet is a new craft for me, and one I’m delighted to find I can work on at night.
In addition, I choose tools that are comfortable in my hands and not overly precious. I prefer to work with circular needles on public transit in order to prevent loss if one is dropped.

Tip 3: Project size

Some projects, such as a cardigan body, require more personal space to work. Others can be worked in more restricted space. Socks, hats, cowls, and cat toys all fit that bill for me.

Tip 4: Gauge

While it might be tempting to take on a modular project as the pieces can be completed as time permits, my experience is that my gauge during some events will be much different than during other times. Unless I can completely finish the project, it’s generally a better idea to not work on this type of project. This is why I like to work on projects where gauge isn’t terribly important. Baby hats and washcloths, while getting the right stitch count for a particular size is beneficial, if I end up a bit off, it’s still usable.

Tip 5: Prepare early (if possible)

If you can, begin the project before the stressful event. Wind yarn, make sure all tools are ready. If you’re knitting, cast on and count when you aren’t stressed. Work the first row of crochet so you don’t need to stress on top of everything else that’s going on.

What am I working on tonight as we await US 2016 Presidential Election returns?
Last night, I cast on a washcloth and chose a cabled yarn so I don’t need to worry about it splitting; it’ll likely end up all garter stitch.

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