Five tips to organize a large project

With the arrival of three pounds of yarn on Friday (!!!) I have no excuses and need to jump full into my third and largest swatch project to date. Each time I take on a project of this scope, I refine my process to stay organized and continue moving forward. This time it’s extra critical as I also have a sample crochet deadline in mid-March.

To explain my process, I’ll use photos from a previous swatch project. For that, I took on the spinning, knitting, crochet, and weaving of a range of fibers.

Step One: Don’t Panic

Set aside a few moments to allow the magnitude of your large and crazy project to wash over you. Then take a few deep breaths and move on. Panic and fear that it won’t happen often can create a cycle of self-doubt that will likely sabotage the project. With a plan you’ll be able to make it happen and spot issues before they cause a train wreck.

Step two: Plan

Figure out in general when and where you’ll work on the project. Are you able to only devote time on quiet Sunday mornings? Does one phase require you to be in a certain environment, such as in front of a spinning wheel, while others need a pair of knitting needles?

I like to use my planning grid for this. First I break out the larger steps, the intermediate goals, I need to complete the project. For the handspun swatch project, I first had to prepare the fiber as I was sent 4oz braids and only needed a few grams for each sample skein. Then I needed to spin four samples. The final steps were knitting, crocheting, and weaving each swatch.

After I know the general stages to the project, I fill in time blocks. Some projects are best worked on at certain times, I take my own personal rhythms into account. For the handspun swatches I would spin in the morning and work with my yarn in the evenings.

Step three: Deadlines

This is a challenge, because most of the intermediate steps are my own self-set deadlines. They exist to help me make sure I’m on track. Do I need 5 hours to spin and ply? Have I allowed enough time for the yarn to dry after setting the twist? At this point I often move to my planner and task list to pinpoint when these steps need to be completed.

Step four: Mix it up

There are some benefits to repetition, but I am a fan of mixing it up. While my time blocks indicate that I plan to swatch each evening, that doesn’t mean it’s all the same. After I finished the more popular fibers, I began to work those swatches in the evenings before I finished spinning. I worked knit swatches first, followed by the crochet, and saved weaving for last.

Step five: Consistency checklist

After working through these steps, I put together a detailed checklist. It includes every step in detail. This becomes my guidebook so that I can produce consistent yarn and swatches for the purposes of comparison. It also helps me when I mix things up so that I don’t neglect a critical step.

What exactly am I doing with all that yarn? I’ll hint that you should keep in mind that Anzula has many bases and I’ve wielded a crochet hook for over 30 years. Keep an eye to their site for the first installment, coming soon.

Note: the swatches shown in this post are NOT Anzula and were produced for a company that is no longer in business.

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