Q for You: Do you plan your knitting/sewing projects?

orange Heel Stitch Hat knitting in progress

Happy Friday! So much activity around Fringe this week, and yet a little on the quiet side in the comments! So I have a new Q for you: Do you plan your projects?

There are a thousand and two things I know I want to knit (obviously), along with a stack of sewing patterns on my worktable at home, right next to my unused mini-looms. Plus there are things I’ve promised to make for people — that oft-mentioned sweater (plus a hat) for my husband, a wrap for my mother, etc, etc. I’ve got the most beautiful cardigan on the needles, along with 8 or 10 half-done or abandoned things. I have an actual list … somewhere … of planned projects in order of priority, and too many long-term knits lately have made me crave quick, simple, satisfying things. But do I pick something off that list (any of the lists)? Of course not. I’ve got a cute hat on my mind and a skein of orange yarn in my stash, and so that’s what gets cast on. Is it like this for you, too, or are you all orderly and deliberate about starting and finishing things?

There’s no right or wrong answer, obviously, but I’d love to hear about your system — or lack thereof.



QUICK APOLOGY: If I owe you an email, I apologize for the delay! I’ve been working straight 15-hour days and have family in town, and it’s the non-urgent emails that have had to suffer.

IMPROVED SHOPPING: One of the thousand things I did get done this week was to reorganize the shop into easy-to-browse categories, and I also added a Stockists page, so you can now see where Fringe goods might be available near you. The newest additions are Creative Yarns in Macon GA and The Grove in San Diego CA. And there will be a box going to Brooklyn General Store next week.


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Do you wind your own yarn?

35 thoughts on “Q for You: Do you plan your knitting/sewing projects?

  1. I call it my “push back” list. I plan projects then see something that looks like more fun or I like better and must have immediately or a Haus of Yarn shop sample request. So the planned projects keep getting “pushed back”. I have also discovered that many of those planned projects are not so desirable by the time I get to them. So they get “pushed off” of the list.
    And it drives my crazy to have more than two projects on the needles at one time!

  2. Thanks to multiple pregnant friends, and the recent discovery of your blog, I have been totally in KNIT ALL THE THINGS mode for awhile. I am traditionally a two projects girl. One really simple project for travel, waiting rooms, etc. One for evenings at home when I can concentrate. I currently have 12 projects going…and it is blowing my mind. I’ll knit myself out of this corner eventually!

  3. Such a good question! I do plan projects, but I do not always knit things in the order that they’re planned. For example: the sweater I’m knitting right now I bought yarn for in February. So, I planned to knit it for months, and then the right time rolled around and off I went. Likewise have planned out my Christmas knitting (more or less), and even thought that has a pretty clear deadline, I haven’t really decided on the order of the knits, just what they are.

    My favourite thing, I think, is planning multiple projects and then seeing what I feel like next. Sometimes what I plan isn’t what a need down the road, so the plan gets put to one side and I knit what I feel like and then return to the plan.

    In general, I think Ravelry favourites and stash yarn sort of count as a plan in a loose sense (I do try to buy yarn with a sense of what I want it to be), and when I pair one with the other in my Rav queue it becomes a more official, proper plan, if that makes sense. Lets not talk timelines though, because yeah, that’s harder…

    • I started out using Ravelry favorites for that purpose, but it’s gotten out of control. Think I might need to try the queue function. Which I guess is what’s it’s there for, right?

  4. My knitting plans sound a lot like Jo. I knit hats (as one of the many things I do) for our little gallery, so there’s an area I plan deliberately and finish. Or when I give gifts. But my stash is building much faster than my output. My projects live in my head, in the stack of patterns by my chair (most wanted in the moment on top) and on needles. At the moment two pairs of socks, a scarflett and the Flying Squirrel sweater. I want to actually knit a whole sweater. I’ll start to gloat over my stash and then go into total overwhelm. So I knit another row on the the shawlett to calm myself and sit at the computer browsing yarn sites and Ravelry. Does that sound insane?

    • I want that Flying Squirrel thing so badly. When I think of all the things I’m not getting to, that’s the one that bugs me. But I fear I’ll never finish it if I start it.

  5. Mostly I just get an idea or see something I want to make and then I make it, rinse & repeat. I don’t like that feeling of having something hanging over my head or having unfinished projects lying around forever, so I don’t often have more than one project going and if I do it’s usually because one of them is a giant time-consuming project. The closest thing I have to a plan or system is my corkboard, which is really just a big mess of all kinds of random stuff – whatever’s fascinating me at the moment, and ideas I scribbled down so I wouldn’t lose them before I decide if I really want to make them or not.

    • A cork board is an excellent idea. I have quite a few that aren’t serving any particular purpose at the moment. I think my biggest problem is not only that I have stuff marked/noted in so many places (Pinterest, Ravelry, Evernote, etc) but that they’re all digital rather than physically right in front of my face.

  6. I’ve always been one to knit the thing that has most recently caught my eye, but have realised that this “system” (or lack thereof) doesn’t really work. I’m hoping to work on wardrobe planning in general come the new school term (everything stops for the summer holidays) and that will include a plan for knitting garments that will work with my wardrobe rather than just being pretty!
    Enjoy your weekend.

    • This is really the nut of it for me. I am actually quite deliberate about my wardrobe and purchases to augment it. I am religious about that rule about not buying anything unless you can mentally put together 3 outfits with it from stuff already in your closet. But I’m totally willy-nilly about the things I knit. I don’t take the time to make sure they actually make sense in my wardrobe, or think about how I’ll wear them. Which is really backwards! So that’s the part I’m really trying to be more thoughtful about.

      • I’ve never been that considered about my wardrobe but having made a small start, it has really ‘clicked’ for me as the way forwards. I think the fact that knitting is such a relaxing pastime for me I’ve never considered it in the same way. Until now. ‘Thoughtful’ is a really great way to encapsulate the process.

  7. I tend to be orderly and deliberate because most of my knitting is for designs I’m planning on publishing, and nothing will ever get done in a timely manner if I don’t force myself to reach certain goals before starting a new project.

    But I’m also not really a stasher. I tend to buy yarn for a few projects I have planned, and I don’t buy more yarn until I’ve started the last project. My stash only has oddballs in it so I either knit according to my plan, knit something small and fast, or I have to hit the yarn store. Not having tons of yarn around makes it easy to follow my plan.

    • When I first started knitting, I didn’t understand how anyone could even HAVE a stash. How on earth could you buy yarn without knowing what it was for?! You wouldn’t know how much to buy!

      But then I fell into the habit of buying 1 ball of this and 2 balls of that, which of course means I wound up with a bunch of yarn I couldn’t really do anything with. So then I really did stop buying unless I knew what it was going to become. I still have all those random balls … but fortunately it’s not a ton of them. I do think not having random yarn around cuts down on the tendency to cast on random stuff.

  8. You sound like me. :) I think I am an impulse knitter. I will suddenly become passionately obsessed with something and NEED to cast on!! This means buy whatever it takes and make it happen. If I can’t get it together fast enough, the interest turns to annoyance and I move on. I have a bunch of things on needles and rotate through them until one speaks to me. I do love to knit presents and use it as an excuse to make something ambitious that I would not follow through on for myself.

    • One of my guilty secrets is that I don’t knit swatches for hats. They’re so quick and fun, and I figure if it one turns out big or small, it’ll fit SOMEONE.

  9. I don’t plan at all. This is how my ‘process’ works:

    1. Visit the yarn store. Buy an unspecific amount of yarn according to how guilty I feel about spending money on yarn (< $50 for two hanks).
    2. Browse Pinterest, find Inspiring Pattern. Realise the yarn I bought is not suitable for that pattern.
    3. Revisit the yarn store and buy the correct yarn for the Inspiring Pattern.
    4. Begin knitting, get halfway through project before finding another Inspiring Pattern that suits the yarn purchased in step 1.
    5. Begin the new Inspiring Pattern.

  10. I think I was brought up to knit what I needed , be it hot water bottle cover, jumper, hat, scarf or some other sundry item, and probably knit till finished. That didn’t mean I couldn’t have more than one thing on the go at a time, however. I too find it useful to have a portable project and an at-home project, but the trouble is that often my portable projects morph into the at-home projects (socks where I need to concentrate a bit, mittens where I’ve reached the picking up for fingers) and then what do I do?

    I have a swag of family members who are always delighted to receive handknits, so I try to keep my projects a bit small in order to be able to finish them within a month or two of those deadlines (they might not get them actually on the day, but emergencies occasionally interrupt best-laid plans). And you might laugh to hear I plan to knit my son a jumper (sweater) for his 21st birthday. I have two and a half years to get that done (hoping he won’t bulk out too much in that time). It’s not going to be a terribly complex number but it will require fitting in around other things. Watch me bowl over lots of beanies in the meanwhile!

    • Ha! I think that’s probably about how much time will have passed between when I bought the yarn for my husband’s blue sweater and when I weave in the last end.

  11. I pretty much knit one thing at a time. I don’t have a ‘stash’ because yarn can be so expensive so I buy for a project, knit it, then plan what I want to make next, the buy the yarn for that. I am however embarking on opening a yarn shop which I’m sure will change my yarn habits considerably! I can’t wait!

  12. Great question! And now that I think about it, I do have something of a system going, although it’s taken a few years of unfinished projects and forgotten yarn stashes to figure it out. Basically, if I’m going to put the effort into making something (knitting or sewing), it has to meet the following requirements:

    – it has to be something I will actually be comfortable wearing (this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s sometimes hard to keep in perspective when drooling over pictures of photoshopped models frolicking in idealized settings).

    – it has to fill an actual gap in my current wardrobe (needs versus wants), and fit well with said existing wardrobe.

    – it has to make some sense with respect to the seasonal timeline. For example, I’m not going to start knitting a large and complicated winter knit in the middle of December (this is something I’m still working on).

    I’ve also come to realize that I like to have at least three different kinds of knitting going on at once: something cabled, something with colourwork, and something plain and stockinette-ish that I can knit while zoning out in front of bad horror movies.

    That’s about it! It’s been great to read about how everyone else goes about it :)

    • The seasonal timing thing is so hard. But I love all your very sensible guidelines. Like I was saying to Evie above, I’m really trying to be as deliberate and wardrobe-conscious about things I knit as I am about things I buy.

  13. I really admire what Z has to say and I hope I can ever be that together. I am way too impulsive about buying patterns and yarn that look cute on the models without thinking how they would look on me, my climate, or needs. I have figured out that color may be the most important part of the project. Just because I have a yarn in my stash which fits the pattern, I may not love it made up. Sometimes you like the finished picture of the pattern because of the color and it made up in a totally different color is not so wonderful. I have way too many projects on needles. I do like having something easy and small to take with me for office lunch hour knitting.

    • That’s really one of the most compelling reasons to swatch — not just for gauge but to see if you’re going to like the fabric in the yarn and color you’ve chosen. Josh Bennett makes a very compelling case for making a BIG swatch for exactly that reason.

      If you think about it, it’s like painting a tiny little dab of paint on a wall versus painting a square foot or more. You might think you like the color just fine in a 2-inch dab but then wind up hating a full wall of it. Same thing with a sweater.

  14. I think my knitting slump is because everything I knit is for OTHER PEOPLE. I just made a baby item. I need to make another baby item that was promised a year ago, so now it is a toddler item. I have a million things I want to make for myself, but I NEVER do. And this needs to end. :) I barely have enough time to read my favorite blog, much less knit. (Just went through a bunch of missed ones and made some comments.

    • oh, do I ever agree on this one. I was only thinking the other day that it’s time I made a new scarf for myself because the last couple have ended up going to others and then my husband asked me, very nicely, if I would make a cardigan for my mother-in-law. She’s not a high maintenance person and at one level I have no objection at all (just wish I could knit faster because she needs it a few weeks ago) but my scarf? What about my scarf?

  15. Pingback: Q for You: Who do you knit for? | Fringe Association

  16. Pingback: Organizing my to-knit list | Fringe Association

  17. Pingback: Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner? | Fringe Association

Comments are closed.