I have always been someone who is drawn to instant gratification projects. I like something I can make in an afternoon. In general, I am more about the finished result than I am about the process of getting there.
So, knowing these things about me, are you surprised that I’ve recently finished my third crocheted blanket? I kind of am!
While writing up the pattern and tutorial for that third blanket, I started thinking more about my workflow. I thought about how a person like me, who doesn’t enjoy waiting too long for anything, can invest several months into a single project and not go completely batty. Or, give up on the project and let it languish in the basement for the next five years.
I brought this up to Sister Diane, and we decided a blog hop was in order. So, today, I will be talking about how I make blankets without losing my mind (or my will to continue). Diane, Liz, Jeni, Martine, and Wendi will all be discussing their own Big Project challenges and strategies today, too, in areas such as writing a book, prepping for a holiday craft fair, launching a magazine, making quilts, and more. You can find links to their posts at the end of this one.
Sound like fun? Great!
Let’s talk about crocheting that blanket, shall we?
A blanket project can feel like an overwhelming task, particularly if you are planning to cover a whole bed, if you are new to crochet, or if you get bored easily.
I fall into that final category, and so I find that I can keep up enthusiasm for projects like these if I break them down into smaller goals.
For instance, on this particular blanket, I set a goal of one row of six squares per week. That’s an easily attainable goal for someone like me, who only crochets in her evening and weekend downtime.
Breaking a project down into smaller, specific goals has at least two benefits:
- You can estimate how long it should take you to finish (this blanket, at a rate of a row per week, would be a nine-week undertaking: one week for each of eight rows, plus another for the border).
- You get a sense of accomplishment on a regular basis (every week: hooray! I finished another row!)
Choosing to think of a crocheted blanket (or any modular project, for that matter) in terms of rows not only has the psychological benefit of feeling like a new project every week, but it also keeps you from losing steam carrying out the same repetitive processes over and over again.
For example, if I were to think of this blanket as a whole entity, I would start by crocheting all of the circles for the flower centers. That wouldn’t be too bad, as that’s kind of a speedy process.
It would even be ok adding the ring of color around the circles. That is another quick job.
Where it would get dicey for me would be in the flower petal stage. 48 flowers total, while not impossible, would certainly take some time, and probably bore me before I was finished.
But even then, assuming I made it through all 48 flowers without losing interest, surely my patience would be tested while adding the background. All of that WHITE! Oh, my. I’m telling you absolutely for sure that I would not get more than halfway through that massively uniform background before balling up the whole thing and stuffing it in the basement to finish some other season, if at all.
And that would be a shame.
I thought about each row as its own separate project.
Each Saturday morning, I would dump out my yarn on the floor, and choose the colors for my flowers. This was a great way to start the week, because playing with color is half the fun for me. It gets me fired up about the week’s work. Benefit #1: excitement for the task ahead!
Then, because it was a weekend, and there was a lot more time for personal projects, I would pop on a British mystery and crochet all of those flower centers. By the end of the day Saturday, I usually would have all of the centers and all of the rings around them completed, and that gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Benefit #2: a sense of accomplishment right out of the gate (instant gratification)!
The flower petals came next, and were usually done within a day or two.
The rest of the week would be spent crocheting the white around the flowers and joining the squares to the rest of the blanket. This was nearly always do-able by Friday night. Finishing a complete row was always a milestone I would reach with great enthusiasm, as it was a way of accurately measuring how far I had come, and how far I had yet to go. And it was a great excuse to take pictures and share with my social media circle. Benefit #3: easily-measurable goals! and Benefit #4: the joy of sharing one’s accomplishments!
By Saturday morning, I would be feeling the glow of the previous week’s accomplishment, and the thrill of the color-selection process, and as such I would approach a new row with great enthusiasm. No burnout in sight.
The key here is this: know thyself.
What did we learn about me earlier?
- I am bored easily
- I require copious amounts of instant gratification
By approaching my blanket project as I did, I not only staved off boredom, but I also gave myself several opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, I was able to easily measure my progress, which did much toward propelling me to the end.
Now, perhaps you don’t have these same challenges. Perhaps you are drawn to the idea of working all of the white at the end. Maybe you like the idea of being a mindless background-crocheting drone for a month of evenings. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, and if this is how you tick, then this is how you should approach your project.
Think about the aspects of smaller projects that make you happy, and break down your larger project into pieces that maximize these aspects for you.
So, have I convinced any of the skeptics among us that something like this is totally do-able? What are the challenges for you, and how do you think you would approach your own long-term hand-making commitment?
When you’re done here, please check out the other posts in today’s blog hop!