I’ve had a lot of focused knitting to do lately, as well as office work that has to be done to hit deadlines, both mine and those imposed on me. As I have needed to fit everything into an already busy schedule it became apparent that planning is what makes some projects come together, and others languish. Well there are other things too, but you can solve many of them if you do the planning! By nature I’m not really a planner, but I do always do what needs to be done. So I decided that I would make my knitting projects just like other things that fit on the “need to get done” part of my lists, and use that to move knitting projects through my life at a better pace.
This requires working on fewer projects at once, but it means that you can still work on multiple projects if you plan. I need to have things to work on when I am tired, or enjoying an evening that doesn’t allow me to focus on my knitting too much, so I usually have two or three things going at once, but you can only work on a single thing at one time. This is a key: If you physically work on project A you cannot be physically working on project B.
A Tool: Knitting Worksheets
I have formalized what I have been doing into a two-page worksheet (this is the accessory version). The first segment is where I record information. I start by putting down the date, and the date I need/want to get my project finished. This is the first wake-up call for me as the calendar is less malleable than I want it to be and I may have less real time than I thought.
Not surprisingly, I record gauge and other information I might need. After that I break down the pattern into segments. I might make notes if I have them, but I usually use this section for making notes as I’m knitting. Breaking out the segments to complete the project is really helpful for beginning to get my head around what needs to be accomplished. I might add additional sheets to the worksheet where I make much more detailed lists for each segment–I love to check off that I’ve done a thing, so I tend to break things down into lots of pieces. I know that I can fit a 15 minute piece in, but it is very hard to fit in a 2 hour piece, so if I can get things down to small pieces I am more likely to see progress and that is part of what gets me to the finish line.
Time Estimating: Knitting Worksheets
After that I spend time thinking about how long I think each segment will take. This is a place for honesty and it will not serve you well to underestimate. I am always shocked when I add up my Total Knitting Time*. After I grapple with that part then I need to look at my calendar and see when I can fit that into my schedule. Some nights I can only fit in a short amount of knitting, and others I might have room to really log some serious knitting time. But it if doesn’t get on my schedule, it isn’t going to get done.
I’ve suggested before keeping track of how long it takes to do a row/round, or pattern, or something you can quantify so that you can work the math on how long it will take. I’ve put the equations to do this at the top of my estimating sheet. If you don’t know, you can work it out after you get started, then make adjustments.
*Total Knitting Time:
- I do not include blocking and finishing in this–they are part of Total Finishing Time, which is added to Total Knitting Time to get Total Project Time.
- I put my time estimates down in quarter hour (15 min) segments. Then I add up all my minutes and divide by 60 to get a total in hours.
Actual Time: Knitting Worksheets
I have a column for recording the time it actually takes so I can compare this to my estimate. This is in part for future reference, but also so you can make adjustments to your schedule if needed based on real information.
You might like to join the Tatio Challenge over the Thanksgiving Weekend. It is a good project for testing this out because it is short and sweet! I have created my own time estimate for this and will make a sample next week and then give you my times to help you plan your Tatio.
Tatio is available on Jill Wolcott Knits, Ravelry, Craftsy and Patternfish!