The Pleasure of Multitasking

crochet knitting yarn

How many WIPs do you have?

Sometimes I try to convince myself that I need to finish one thing before I start another. I tell myself that having a sequence of events lets you start fresh when something you've worked on for so long is done. It helps avoid procrastination and it gives you a clean slate to start a new project.

Well... that's great ... in theory. :D I don't think it works that way for knitters and crocheters all the time, though. And for crafters in general. First, I think it depends on personality. Some people are more productive if they don't have many "works in progress" and in fact, find it distracting. They prefer to enjoy the process from start to finish before they get onto something else. Focusing on the process drives them: the planning, the materials, the beginning, the mistakes, starting over, finishing, and seeing their project in its full glory when it's ready to be worn, hung up, used or wrapped as a present.

As crafters, we all love seeing the end product of our creativity and hard work. We all like finishing our work and showing it off by wearing it or displaying it in our homes. At the same time, many of us like to have a few unfinished projects on the go. For many years I have been hearing my mom's voice in my head: "You have to finish something before you start something else". Every time I wanted to stop in the middle of a sweater and start knitting a scarf, I would feel bad for leaving my sweater behind.

Until I realized... I wasn't leaving it behind. I wasn't even procrastinating. I was giving my brain a different direction so it can have a break from a difficult or time-consuming project. You've heard the expression: "I need a change of scenery." That's exactly what I was doing. If I knit an easy quick scarf in the middle of my big project, I actually felt more motivated to finish that big project after the scarf was done.

Then I found another benefit of having multiple projects on the go. No matter where I go or what my mood is for the day, I have a project to work on that corresponds to that day. If I am more restless (while waiting for the school district to call me and let me know which school accepted my son), I would knit a baby blanket which doesn't need much counting of stitches or any complex shapes. If I feel home sick and I am thinking about my family who live far away, I knit something more complex to take my mind off of sad thoughts. Or if I know my husband, kids and I are going on a road trip, I'd absolutely bring my DPNs and circulars for quick cowls, hats, and leg warmers. And if we decide to rent a cabin and we are spending a weekend by the fire, I'd bring a new nordic pattern to work on while sipping tea and listening to the crackling of the logs.

I had a discussion about this "method of project management" with my mom recently. She admitted that this is a much better outlook than trying to convince ourselves that we are procrastinators or failures. It spins our thinking into a positive direction and gives us the motivation to try new things. Besides, if you are working on a few projects at the same time, chances are, you are going to finish some of them at the same time. And how sweet is it to say that you finished a scarf, a hat, and a sweater at the same time?! Nobody needs to know it took you several months (or a year) to do so.


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