Do you have a PhD? No? I bet you do. And I'm starting a PdD program jsut for you.
I know what you're thinking, and this is not that kind of PhD program. There will be no discussion of the relative merits of Kierkegaard and Tillich, no pipe smoking, and very few Birkenstocks. This is for Projects half Done. You know, the one you started but got to a spot you didn’t understand, or got distracted by something new and fabulous, or just lost that loving feeling. Into the closet it went. To be completed...someday. That someday is now. We need to address these PhDs. Here’s why.
Those projects in the closet are burdensome. We may not think about them every waking moment, but they’re very much part of our subconscious. We’re reminded of them as we walk past the closet where they’re hiding. They come to mind as we sit down to knit. Worst of all, a trip to the yarn store brings them screaming to the front of our brain. Things we haven't finished nag at us and stress us out.
It’s called the Zeigarnik Effect, named after a Lithuanian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik who first studied the phenomenon in the 1920s. Her research showed that incomplete tasks cause mental tension, and make us uncomfortable. Our brain sends us these little reminders of what we need to do to make ourselves comfortable again. those little reminders produce cortisol, the stress hormone. I’m sure there’s some evolutionary benefit to it all, but personally, I don't need it. Bottom line is that these unfinished projects can take all the joy our of our knitting. Talk about a buzz kill.
Strange that a yarn store owner would be reminding you of all your unfinished projects, I know, but my job is not (just) to sell you more yarn than you know what to do with. My real job is to help you have a happier and more satisfying knitting life.
So what do you do about those PhDs? Do you have to pull them all out and finish them all up before you can cast on anything else? Of course not. But to get rid of the stress and pressure from the unfinished, you do need to find closure on each one of these projects.
I’m putting together a PhD program inside the membership site, Club Crazy for Ewe, and here’s what we’re going to do with those PhDs Get a notebook and a pen and let’s get started:
Pull them out. All of them. There may be three, there may be 50. Doesn’t matter. Let’s get them all out into the light.
Evaluate each project Look at each one and put it in one of three piles:
Pile 1 - I love this, and I can’t wait to finish it so I can wear it
Pile 2 - I don’t love this project anymore but Idostill love the yarn
Pile 3 - I don’t love this style, and I don’t love the yarn (doesn’t matter why).
Pack up the things in Pile 3 Quickly. Pull the needles and notions out if they are still good, but get them out of your house. Give them to someone who wants them, or take them to a donation center. Treat them as you would any other piece of clothing that you don’t like/don’t want/doesn’t fit. Green Drop will come and get these items right off your front porch and recycle the fiber. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for the yarn or how much work is already in it. Those are sunk costs, and it’s costing you a lot in terms of mental health.
Rip and reuse the things in Pile 2. If you truly love everything about the yarn (color, texture, feel) you can rip out what you’ve done and use that beautiful yarn to knit something you actually want to wear. But be really sure you love the yarn. Make sure it’s in good condition. No moth-eaten bits or dry-rot. Rewind all the skeins and check them for integrity. Also make sure you actually love the color. Don’t stop and rip things out right now. Just write down in your notebook what the yarn is, and how much you have of it. It is no longer a PhD. It’s stash.
Assess and Sort As you go through Pile, jot down in your notebook what the project is and where you are on it.
Does it just need the ends woven in?
Is this something you could finish and wear this season?
Does it need to be blocked and seamed?
Are there still pieces to knit?
Do you still have the pattern?
Are there techniques/instructions that stumped you?
Choose and commit Find the one you want to focus on first and commit to some number of hours per week to work on it. Maybe you work on that project during your favorite show, or after dinner on Wednesdays, or at your kid’s practice. You can still work on your current project all the other times.
It doesn’t matter when or how much you work on it, simply that you work on it regularly.
The most important part of this whole process is getting things settled. It’s making the plan. When we have a plan, our brain can relax and stop remaining us because it knows that there’s a plan, and everything will be taken care of according to the plan. With a PhD plan you can relax, have less stress, and enjoy your knitting more.
The PhD program is a weekly zoom class that meets Thursdays at 7:30 to help you sort your projects, figure out where you are, and create a plan for moving forward and finishing up your projects. In addition to the live sessions, you'll have access to a library of technique videos you can access any time. You’ll benefit from the dedicated time each week to work on your project with a friendly group of knitters, so you’ll stay motivated and get that PhD done.
The PhD program is included in the membership site, Club Crazy for Ewe which you can join here.
I look forward to seeing you soon. Whether in the shop and around the table, or online at our virtual table, you are always welcome here.