“Startitis is great. Finishing ain’t so easy.” -Lynn Gideon
Yeah, Lynn. We HEAR you.
It’s 2020 and the fact is, we’re out of control. Or rather, our projects are. Completely, utterly, embarrassingly, hilariously out. Of. CONTROL.
We’d like to say it’s a job hazard. That it’s industry research. That we’re Creatives Who Cannot Be Bound By Time Nor Space.
But in all reality, we’re just two knitters who like to knit. And to Makers, is there anything better than starting a new project?
The only problem with loving to create as much as we do (and we have a hunch you’ve got this problem, too) is that there’s just not enough time to do it all. Every single day, the number of new patterns, new yarns, new notions, new ideas that arrive earthside is astounding. Thrilling. Often overwhelming. This is our job, sure, but we still can’t keep up. We imagine you can’t either.
Makers love to start new projects. But finishing? Ay, there’s the rub.
We’ve tried all kinds of ways to keep on task and be accountable, to each other and to ourselves. Checklists. Planners. Journals. Weekly check-ins. Blog posts. Ravelry threads. Social pressure from our Saturday morning Stitch Circle (which always has more room, so if you’re reading this, please know you’re welcome to join us!).
It ain’t working.
Then we thought back to a conversation we had with our dear friend and customer Lynn about 3 years ago, about rotating a grouping of long-lingering projects in 12-hour stints, and we thought, yes. Yes. This makes perfect sense. This is something we could do.
Here’s how it works:
You corral up to five (5) projects from your pile, preferably WIPs that are sizable, hanging out on the needles for longer than two months and/or those you’re having a hard time talking yourself into finishing. You rotate through these five only, dropping or picking up new projects when and only when you’ve bound one off OR finished a 12-hour cycle, whichever comes first. You absolutely can keep introducing projects to your five–there’s no ‘rule’ about having to alternate between newbies and old WIPs–but once you’ve started the clock, you must maintain project monogamy until those 12 hours are up. When you’re done with your 12-hour block, if it’s not finished, your piece moves to the bottom of the pile; you will now need to work through four 12-hour segments of knitting time before you can go back to this project. Obviously, every knitter is different (we all knit at different speeds and have varying time in our allotted knitting schedules), so your 12 hours might span over a long weekend, a week–even a month. This isn’t a methodology that works only for people who routinely schedule marathon knitting sessions; this method works for commuters, lunchtime stitchers and for those who only have ten minutes with their morning coffee. There are weeks when neither of us knit much at all. That’s life, darn it. But every one of those little moments adds up and before you know it, with a plan in hand, you’re actually chipping away at something. You’re making visible progress. Shock and disbelief, YOU’RE FINISHING SOMETHING.
For example: I started my Gideon Method on Tuesday morning, with this red sweater. I’ve knit a lot since then (rather than sleep, which is not by choice) and am currently 5 1/2 hours into this 12-hour block. I’m nearly halfway into my second sleeve, and because the button band is knit at the same time as the body of the sweater, all that’s left to do after the sleeve is done is to tack down the pockets, which makes me extremely confident I’ll finish the sweater before the 12 hours are up. That’s a good thing, because according to this method, if I wasn’t finished, it would move to the end of the line and that would reeeeeeeeally bum me out, as I had planned on wearing this sweater for Christmas 2019–I’m really ready to wear it now. (Insert eye roll emoji.) Next up is the poncho for Sasha (the picture at the top of the post), the project that started my current project anxiety. Once that’s done–and boy, I hope I can do it in 12 hours, because if I don’t, my No. 1 Mom pin might get taken away–I’ll move on to the Madewell Cardigan, then the Mon Manet Light, then the Plaid Friday socks. As these projects fall out of rotation (sweet, sweet success), I have some very specific yet vague plans as to what I’ll add into my Fab Five, including several top-secret samples in a new-to-us dyer (more info on that soooooooon!), a Hawkbit Cardigan in our Dunes yarn, a Mon Manet in Fresh Water Fiber and the first sweater I’ve ever knit for my husband–a plain pullover in mYak Medium in Tibetan Sky (his choice!)
But why now?
Before I started my plan on Tuesday morning, my knitting was stressing me out in a major way. Sashi had asked me back in December (about 10 days before Christmas) if I would knit her a poncho. She doesn’t ask for knitting, really, and she’s pretty picky about what she’ll wear, so of course I said yes. That very night we chose a pattern (Breathe Mélange by Heidi May) and narrowed down the yarn–she ended up choosing Malabrigo Rios in ‘Sand Bank’. When she woke up in morning, the first words out of her mouth were, “Mom? Can we talk about my poncho? I know you knit a lot of things, and I know you’re busy, but I was hoping you could finish so I could wear the poncho this year?”
Insert major Mom Guilt, because this isn’t the first time (nor the 10th, if I’m being honest) that I said I’d knit something for my daughter, and then somehow, it doesn’t get done. I have the very best intentions–we all do, don’t we?–but how do I change? How can I make good on these ‘promises’? Not just to my daughter, but to myself?
Liz, too, got a hefty dose of Mom Guilt a few weeks ago, when Cecily asked when her baby blanket was fiiiiiiiiiinally going to be finished. Today’s the day, Sweetheart, she said. She stopped everything she was doing to work on it, and then. Well, you know. Life. She sent Cecily to bed that night with the blanket as-is–tails hanging from every direction, yarn still attached–and somehow, it didn’t quite have the same effect.
She’s also experiencing the pressure of too many WIPs and the overall feeling of treading water–and has been for a long time. She knit most of the samples for the 12 Knits this year, but it’s been waaaaay too long since she’s knit something on her List–and without a bona fide plan, she feels like nothing ever gets finished; the personal projects always get pushed to the bottom of the list when your knitting time is limited.
Her clock started yesterday (it took about 15 seconds of convincing to get her on board with the Gideon Method) and she’s currently an hour into her Cedar Pullover KAL–well below the sleeve divide (just a few inches from the hemline lace), which means she’ll most likely finish the pullover before the end of this 12-hour time slot. When she’s done, she’ll move on to the mini mohair sweater (just the ends to weave in!) and the honeycomb I-cord blanket for two quick-and-dirty, ‘attaboy’ finishes (we’re always going to take those little confidence boosters when we can get ’em), and then on to her Wool & Honey KAL, her Community Tunic, her Six and Seven Advent Shawl and samples in the aforementioned top-secret dyer. Maybe a sweater for Cecily in there, too.
“But I’m a Maker,” you say. “Knitting is the one place I let my creativity run wild. With knitting, I don’t have to keep to a schedule, I don’t have to check in with management, I don’t have to treat it like work. It’s my refuge and my sanctuary. I don’t want to mess with that.”
And to that we say, Amen. Yes. We HEAR you.
Don’t you sometimes get overwhelmed with your WIP pile? Sometimes, isn’t too much of a good thing, well, too much of a good thing? And finishing. Wouldn’t you like to do it more often? You know, so that you could actually cast on MORE OFTEN?
Yeah. We thought you’d say that.
To be clear, Lynn didn’t come up with this method herself. It was introduced to her by a needlepoint group outside of Detroit in the 1990s. But to us, this will always be the Gideon Method. Thank you, dear friend. We love you. (We’ll let you know how it goes.)