January 3rd, 2013

31 Days to Get Organized: Tips for Your WIPs

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Yesterday’s task was to sort through your unfinished knitting and crochet projects (WIPs) and decided what you want to finish and what to let go. It’s Day 3 of 31 Days to Get Organized and I have a few tips for your WIPs so that they’re easier to come back to when you’re ready to pick them up again.

Don’t tie up your needles and hooks in your WIPs – If you’re going to stop working on a project for awhile, remove your knitting needles or crochet hook from your work before storing it. If it’s a crochet project, just slip in a locking stitch marker, paper clip, or waste yarn through your last stitch to keep it from unraveling. If it’s a knitting project, you’ll have a little more work to do. If you don’t have many live stitches, you can use a stitch holder (my favorite are the Clover Double Ended Stitch Holders). If you have a lot of stitches, move them to a piece of waste yarn. If you’ve never done this before, watch our How to Use a Lifeline in Knitting video to see how it’s done.

Leave a clue as to what size hook or needle you were using – You don’t always end up using the recommended size hook or needle for a project. And it’s really tough to remember what size you were using. If you haven’t made a note about your size yet, jot it down somewhere. Just write it on a sticky note and stick in your project bag.

Keep your swatch with your project – This is particularly handy if you run out of yarn and need just a little bit more to finish. You can unravel your gauge swatch and use that yarn to complete your project.

Write down details of where you left off on the pattern – I’ve spent way too many hours trying to figure out where I was in a pattern when I pick up a project again. Often I have to unknit or rip back my crochet to a known point in the pattern, very frustrating. Leave some kind of trace on the pattern, either a sticky note, highlighter tape, or actually writing on the pattern itself. I’ve learned not to trust the numbers on counters anymore since sometimes these get changed by accident (or by little children).

Make a note of the size you’re making – This comes up most often for me with sweater patterns either for me or babies and toddlers. It’s not always obvious which size I intended to make.

What tips do you have that make it easier to pick up a WIP and start knitting or crocheting it again? Share your tip in the comments.

– Dena

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25 Responses to “31 Days to Get Organized: Tips for Your WIPs”

  1. Lara Toomey Smoot Says:

    I had fun frogging today! My husband got an electric ball winder for me for Christmas and it made frogging go really fast!

  2. Kelly H. Says:

    I write my needle size, name and a few details about the project on a piece of paper, then skewer that paper on the stitch holder or lifeline before closing the holder up.

  3. penneyknits Says:

    I do that also, Kelly. Then I put it all in a clear zip bag so i can see it all together. It was fun to go through WIPs today and decide what to keep, what to frog. I feel practically virtuous!

  4. Darlene Says:

    What a great idea to take out your needles from your WIP’s that are sitting in time out, and put in stitch holders or waste yarn. Then I wouldn’t always have to be ordering another Addi needle (must have a small fortune invested in them now). Off to start going through the WIP pile! Thanks.

  5. Darlene Says:

    I like your idea of putting all my WIP’s in clear plastic bags so I can see them easier! Guess what I’m going to do next.

  6. Dena Childs Says:

    Out of sight, out of mind. Clear storage is a great solution.

  7. Darlene Says:

    So true, Dena. ! I presently have most of mine in knitting bags, recyclable grocery bags, etc. (non-see-through).

  8. Laura Says:

    I’m always stealing the tips from my interchangeable needles off one project to use on another. So now I punch a hole on a 3×5 card and slip it on the cable before I put on the end caps. On the card, I write the needle size, where I am in the pattern, and any other relevant notes. Makes it much easier to pick up when I get back to it!

    But I’ve also been on a frogging kick lately. I had three half-knit sweaters that I knew weren’t working out. I ripped out two of them completely, and ripped the third one back to the yoke. Having them sitting around was just sapping my knitting enthusiasm. I reskeined the yarn and soaked out the kinks, and now I’m filled with the fun optimism that “new” yarn brings!

  9. Marie Waterman Says:

    I keep a knitting notebook that is a five-section school-ruled spiral bound notebook. I write down each section of the pattern and make columns for repeats. Each row is numbered. If the pattern is symbols only, I write it out line by line (K2, PSSO, etc). I can’t follow directly from a chart. I write a check mark after each row as I complete it. If I have to rip out, I unravel a row at a time, and erase the check marks one at a time. This has worked well for me and has kept my purchased pattern magazines and charts free of markings.. I just finished a hat and lace scarf set.

  10. Iris Westcott Says:

    When I steal a needle from a WIP, I put knots in my long tail from the cast-on equal to the needle number, so for a size 9 needle I tie 9 knots. If the long tail is too short, I tie on a length of waste yarn which I’ve knotted.

  11. Cjmd Says:

    I’m enjoying this series so far. Looking forward to more, as one resolution is to reorganize my stash. I am inspired to finally deal with old WIPs. Looking forward to unravelling

  12. Sally Says:

    Since every make and type of needle (such as straight vs. circular) can delivery slightly different gauge even on the “same” gauge needle, I’d only be confident removing a needle from a project if I kept track of that information as well.

  13. Dena Childs Says:

    Nice index card tip. Great job realizing when to frog. It’s no good when your knitting enthusiasm gets sapped.

  14. Dena Childs Says:

    We’re going to start tackling the stash soon. This is a BIG job for a lot of people.

  15. Dena Childs Says:

    Good point. I know I have a slightly different gauge with wooden vs. metal needles.

  16. Denise V Says:

    Why am I having such a tough time finding this everyday? Am I doing something wrong?

  17. Dena Childs Says:

    I’ve been posting these in the evening each day. So that might be what’s happening. You’re looking for a post that hasn’t been posted yet for the day.

  18. BeverlyL Says:

    Sticky notes get unstuck or slip…write down the stopping point, rather than just an arrow and “here”.

  19. Rhyslarn Slade Says:

    I tend to knit and crochet at my computer desk so I like to convert my patterns into pdf format.
    When I start on a pattern and make adjustments, I use the highlighter and note tools to make notations about the changes I made or where I’m currently at. If the changes that I made are just for the current piece and not something that I want to carry over to the next time, I will remove the notations when I’ve completed the project.
    I tend to leave notations about tricky areas, how I felt about the pattern overall, changes to hook sizes or whatever sticks out in my head.

  20. mamastella Says:

    I do all my knitting at my computer desk and work from patterns I have downloaded or bookmarked. When I start a project, I also start a document with my notes about the pattern. For example, if I am knitting “Lovely Gloves” I will open a document file called “Lovely Gloves, my notes.” In my document I put every piece of information about the date I started, who it’s for or why I’m making it, the yarn, the needles, my gauge, etc. I cut and paste the instructions from the original pattern and then break it down into line by line instructions, on which I make a notation each time I complete them. If it doesn’t work out for me, I make a notation about why and what I’m going to do about it. I am, in fact, making a journal entry about this project because I often enter personal comments about what’s going on in my world. Or the world in general.

  21. Silver Fox Says:

    That’s a great idea, I’m always feeling a bit confounded about working from digital patterns but i have many… this seems like a much more comfortable and reliable way of keeping track of where you are, things you’ve altered/adjusted, etc. Thanks for the tip!

  22. Danielle Baines Says:

    I use Ravelry to keep track of my projects. Each project page has a spot to note what size needles, and what size garment. And the notes section lets me leave myself a trail so I can see what row I was on last and if I was making (or planning to make) any modifications to the pattern. I can access it from anywhere there’s wifi and don’t have to worry about a post-it note getting lost.

  23. Becky Says:

    Since most of the time my knitting is on circular needles, I leave the cable there (so I don’t have to guess what size I was using when knitting in the round) and take the needles off and put the “stoppers” on in their place. I use a plastic bread clip and write the needle size on it and clip it onto the cable. The cables are cheaper to replace than the needles.

  24. Margaret Cook Says:

    I am frequently getting sidetracked and stopping a project w/out planning to. To alleviate issues from this, when I start a project, I take 1/2 of an index card & safety pin it to my work. On the card, I write the needle size, yarn color & brand, name of the pattern & where the pattern is located (i.e. phone, hard copy, magazine,etc.) this waythe project is saved for future attention if it falls victim to my absent mindedness. 😉

  25. Barbm1712 Says:

    I have a WIP form that I fill out before I begin a project. I note on it the project name, the yarn brand and color(s) that I’ve planned and the crochet hook size. There is also a comments section that allow me to keep track of the row or round that I’ve last completed. I also photocopy my pattern (if from a magazine) or print a second copy for the WIP bag. My WIP bags are 2.5 gallon ZIP lock bags where the yarn, pattern instructions and any other notes (a color copy of the finished item) are tucked in an envelope. When I come back to the project later – the only thing I need to go is my crochet hook.I get bored with long projects like afghans, especially if its a very repetitive stitch, so I may not get back to it for a few months, but I know where I left off and everything I need is ready to go.I have a master binder that I keep for both completed projects with pictures and WIPS, so if I’m looking for something everything is in one place. It also makes it easier when you discover you may be short one skein of yarn for future purchase. A smaller notebook goes with me on craft/yarn/quilt store purchases so I don’t forget something. It’s small enough to tuck in my purse or tote bag and can be checked off once its finished. The WIP bags are clipped to skirt hangers and hung in the craft room closet to keep them organized and neat. I do this for my quilting projects as well.

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