Taking Charge

Time-management guru, Alison Mitchell, has a wonderful exercise in her book “Time Management for Manic Mums” to demonstrate her “Wine Bottle Theory of Time Management”. You get a jug and try to fill it with apples, blueberries, caster sugar and wine.

  • The apples represent the urgent and important tasks, the things you have to do or you’ll get bitten in the ass like going to work, paying bills or feeding kids.
  • The blueberries represent important tasks but there’s no urgency – doing them will save you time in the long run like setting up a system for making sure bills get paid on time. For me, following through on publishing patterns is in this category.
  • Then the caster sugar represents tasks that are important to, or urgent for, someone else – in my case that’s housework. I do it because I know it makes DH happy when it’s kept on top of, but it would be low on my priority list otherwise.
  • And then there’s a bottle of wine – ah… wine! It represents all the things I’d rather be doing like crafting, twitter, Ravelry – than the important things I should be doing.

You get the idea: if we fill our jug / day with wine or caster sugar first we’ll struggle to get the important apples and blueberries in there. If you put the apples in first the smaller items of lesser importance will fill in around the gaps.

Case in point: this morning, instead of washing the floors as I’d planned, I played with an Excel spreadsheet of my stash that I’d exported from Ravelry. Naturally, the floors did not get washed at all as my “wine” task took over my time.

Playing with my stash spreadsheet is a favourite game of mine as I try to plan my next knitting / crochet project based on maximising how much stash I’ll use up. With almost 74 kilometers of yarn to work through it’s an understandable obsession.

This week is my first of 10 weeks of parental leave (hence all the blogging action!). For six of those 10 weeks, we will be living in the south of France so I was developing my knitting plan around working with cotton and linen to cope with the heat. In fact I bought a new project’s worth of linen with this plan in mind when I was at La Droguerie in Paris last week. This is the logic that has me struggling with 74km of yarn!

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Haul from La Droguerie, Paris

However, rather than a stash-dive being my usual exercise in choosing “wine” over “caster sugar” this morning it turned into an “apple” moment as a realisation dawned on me…

You may have noticed the “current status” of my two design ideas in my last post was “stewing”. If you recall my previous blog-post “Potential” I had challenged myself to publish an average of one pattern per month for the next year. I wrote that in November 2013. So where are the seven or so new patterns designed by me?

Sadly, still in my head!

And here’s the why: I’ve been busy! The wrong kind of busy – I’ve been filling my jug/time with going to work; looking after the kids and house; knitting or crocheting; working through stash… or teachers’ presents… or items to enter in the local horticultural show. I’ve allowed myself to be so “Busy” with busy-ness of everyday things I’ve avoided the the business of being a designer: knuckling down, swatching and sketching, pattern-writing and testing.

Rather than fill my 10-week-carafe with delicious French wine and come back from France with three new cotton or linen sweaters and several dishcloths, I’m taking charge of my pitcher to pick some juicy “blueberries” from my stash to swatch with instead:

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It’s all in my head…

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Who’s in charge here?

I blogged before about my WIPs rising up against me to thwart my crafting prowess. If you think I’m being over-the-top and melodramatic you might be right but it was fairly disconcerting to fall foul of no less than seven projects at once.

Now there’s been some time to lick and heal wounds I thought I should do a round-up of how (or… if) I beat back the tide:

  • 1. Gloves for teacher “B” – I progressed these to the point of joining the fingers together and starting the palms. However, I tried to do this without looking at the pattern and messed it up entirely. It wouldn’t have been much to rip back and redo but I’d really lost interest in pursuing the project as an appropriate present for this teacher. Current Status: RIPPED!
  • 2. Design Idea #1 – previously ripped out. Current Status: STEWING
  • 3. Slouchy Beret for teacher “C” – I abandoned the project in this yarn but not the pattern. I made another Phoenix in a solid grey and was delighted when I found a fabulous button at The Constant Knitter to finish it off. Like the Phoenix of its name, this gift rose triumphantly from ashes of defeat. Current Status: FINISHED AND GIVEN AWAY!
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Slouchy Phoenix for Teacher “C”

  • 4. Design Idea #2 – previously abandoned but not yet ripped out. Current Status: STEWING
  • 5. Baby quilt – I’ve been warned not to rip out the seams already made. I think this can be rescued with some sashing. Current Status: HIBERNATING
  • 6. Mint green Pizelle – previously abandoned but not yet ripped out. Current Status: RIPPED!
  • 7. Raspberry Beret for teacher “D” – I ripped it out and started again. Current Status: FINISHED AND GIVEN AWAY!
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Raspberry Beret

  • CONCLUSION: of seven troublesome WIPs the final score is FO = 1; Ripped = 3 and Hibernating = 3
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    Status: stable

    Speaking of presents for teachers, in the end, Teacher “B” got a scarf in Tunisian Crochet and Teacher “E” got socks.

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    Tunisian Scarf for Teacher “B”

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    Faux Fair-isle socks for Teacher “E”

    Unfortunately, I spent so much time on failed hat and gloves I ran out of time to make a present for Teacher “A”. Knit-night buddy Watermemory came to my rescue and sold me one of her felted bags. She’ll be launching them on her etsy shop shortly so stay tuned!