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7 Days to End (Knitting) Procrastination

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Although this article talks specifically about knitting, the ideas can be implemented on any projects, whether craft-related or not.

First, the difference between ‘procrastination’ and ‘hibernation’

Most knitters and crocheters have a few Zs floating around their project pages. I’m no exception, and there are many more projects that I’ve never even got around to logging on Ravelry! I think it’s important to differentiate between two categories of projects: ones you feel guilty about, and ones that are simply ‘waiting for the right day’. It’s the former sort of project that I want to help you with in this article. If thinking about the project makes you uncomfortable, or (heaven forbid) it turns you off your knitting completely, then you need to do something about it. You knit because you enjoy it; you enjoy making things and you find it relaxing, fulfilling, and worthwhile. You shouldn’t be filling yourself up with little anxieties instead.

So here’s one approach that’s worked for me. The idea is to do one small thing every day that is very simple in its own right. If you spread each step over a week, it’s easier to detach yourself from what worries you about the project, and stops you from finishing it.

Day 1. Today, take one of your languishing knitting projects out of its container & put it somewhere you can see it.

Don’t let it get buried under things. If you keep seeing it, you’ll want to pick it up eventually, and that’s just one step away from starting knitting.

Day 2. Today, find the pattern, and your notes (if you have any) for the project.

Chances are you’ll need these to figure out what your next step should be. Even if you don’t think you need them, have a quick read-through just to make sure.

Day 3. Today, remind yourself where you were.

I’ve found that charts are especially helpful in situations where you’ve left off a knitting project mid-pattern-repeat, or maybe even mid-row. If your project is off the needles & you’ve forgotten which needles you used, you’ve got a bit more work to do. This is why it always helps to keep a knitting journal (or to document your knitting on Ravelry).

Day 4. Today, spend a few minutes considering why you’ve been procrastinating on that particular knitting project.

Figure out why you’ve been procrastinating. Sometimes you’re not fully aware of what the problem is, but once you’re clear about the problem, you can start to search for solutions. Here are some possibilities:
– You’re not sure the piece is going to fit you.
– You’re not sure the piece is going to look nice.
– You’re not sure about the colour.
– You made a mistake that will take some time to fix.
– You’re at a point where you need to use a technique that’s new to you, or that you feel you’re not very good at.
– You don’t like the yarn, or the needles, or the pattern.

Write it down somewhere so you remember it.

Day 5. Today, list 3 ways you can solve your problem from yesterday. Then pick one to implement.

For example, if you decide you don’t like the yarn, the next step should be obvious to you. Rip out your knitting, wind the yarn back into a ball, and give it away or try to sell it. There’s a lot of lovely yarn out there, and if the yarn is making you hate your knitting, it’s not worth it. If you decide you don’t like the pattern, you can either find a new one, or (if you feel confident enough), try to alter it for the better. Be honest with yourself though; if the thought of altering the pattern just makes you want to stuff the piece back into a bag, maybe you should reconsider. If you feel you lack the necessary skill to complete the project, spend some time looking around the internet, or ask for help on forums. Then just dive in, you’ve got to learn somehow!

If you decide that today marks the end of the road for your knitting project, remember to stop feeling guilty about it today.

Day 6. Today, gather up your materials and put them together, ready for work.

Try to be thorough, and remember everything. Have you got:
– The right size needles?
– A pair of scissors?
– A tapestry needle?
– Stitch markers?
– A ruler or measuring tape?
– A pencil / pen / highlighter?

In addition to your materials, you could prepare the space you need. If you need to block something large, perform the necessary operations to get it all ready. If you need somewhere comfy to knit, make it. Don’t brew your cup of tea or coffee just yet though!

Day 7. Do it

Honestly, if you’ve made it to Day 7 without giving in to the urge to do more or just finish it, you must really be an excellent procrastinator. Now sit in your comfy chair, get your cuppa, and get to work!

How Can You Consistently Reduce Your Procrastination?

Do you feel amazed at how some knitters or bloggers can churn out so many more knitting projects than you? Chances are they’re probably not faster knitters than you, they just have better practices. You don’t need to be madly self-disciplined to do a lot of knitting, you just need to know what works for you.

You could try being loyal to one knitting project at a time. When you forbid yourself to start a new project before you’ve finished the old one, it’s a great incentive to finish quickly. It also builds up excitement for the next project. If you’re working on a particularly long, large, intricate project this can be very difficult to do. Some knitters can manage this, some can’t. I can’t. I have too many ideas that I need to implement as quickly as possible, and this leads to having multiple projects on the go.
Knit projects that really really excite you, and that you really need in your wardrobe / in your life right away. If you’re very excited about knitting (and wearing) a project, you’re more likely to finish it.
Get better at estimating how long a project will take to complete. There’s nothing more discouraging than a project dragging on much longer than you’d hoped.
Develop a knitting routine. If you have a particular time and place where you sit down to knit every day, you will maintain a steady rhythm to your project, and get used to facing problems as they arise.
Be honest about why you’re procrastinating. If it’s just laziness, then you need to work to beat it, but if there’s something wrong with the project, it’s best to admit it early on. Perhaps it’s just not the right time or yarn for this project.

If all of these seem like boring hard work to you, here’s a piece of advice that Meg Cabot shared in one of last year’s NaNoWriMo Pep Talks that’s really helped me in many instances, from novel-writing to knitting:

“Think about what made you fall in love with your work-in-progress in the first place.”

How to Use Knitting to Help You Stop Procrastinating on Other Things

Well, we’ve all procrastinated on our knitting, and we often use our knitting for the sneaky purposes of procrastinating on other projects, but in the spirit of self-improvement through knitting, here are some tips to use knitting to leverage work on your less pleasant tasks.

1. Knit as a reward. Allow yourself a row or round of knitting for every small part of a task you complete.
2. Think about a problem while knitting something mindless. Knitting can be a great catalyst to thought because the repetitive action is meditative and helps you relax. Being relaxed, and letting your mind wander a little is highly conducive to creative thinking.
3. Think of your task as you might your knitting. stitch by stitch, row by row. Make your task into a knitting allegory. Even if it’s just for a bit of fun.
4. You can make yourself feel more productive by filling in “waiting gaps” with a bit of knitting, ball-winding, etc. Think if you can fit a bit of knitting into the activity you’re procrastinating on, without necessarily detracting from the work you need to do. Even if the activity involves using your hands & you can’t knit at the same time, you could still listen to a knitting podcast to make the activity a bit more pleasant.
5. Learn to knit while you read. If your task involves reading, then you can make it more enjoyable if you do a bit of knitting at the same time. If you have dictation software (or a secretary!) you can even knit while you write.

Followers may have noticed I’ve been sharing a few of these tips on Twitter; thank you for your responses, they helped me build this article. I hope you pick up a project you’ve been procrastinating on (or that’s been hibernating) this week. Please leave a comment to let me know how you get on with these tips. Have a great 7 days!

19th May, 2009  // Life, Technique // tags: , .


  1. thank you so much for always posting such lovely tips and helps! i love knitting and your blog always gives me a new and fresh way of looking at knitting and projects instead of just wallowing through them!
    now to go dig out those sock wips… :)

  2. […] it can help you procrastinate. […]

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