A two-part series on Startitis or multiple WIPs — today, the surprising benefits of both
After “finding the time to knit,” I discovered that many knitters have what some called a “too many WIPs [works in progress]” issue. Others called it a “Startitis” issue.
Eventually it dawned on me that these struggles are really the same thing. It’s interesting, though, that some knitters focus on “too many projects on the needles,” while others struggle with “not finishing what I started.”
Some quotes directly from knitters themselves on these issues:
“If I’m honest with myself, what I’m struggling most with is completing my WIPs. I don’t have any problems starting a project but finishing one?”
“Actually finding a pattern I will finish and not get bored half way through. Loads of WIPs in my house.”
“How to decide what WIP to work on–currently I have 12. There’s new stuff I want to try but I think if I don’t work on the old stuff I will never finish anything.”
“Currently I just have too many WIP on needles and feel out of control with it all. In fact began a baby sweater adding to the chaos!!”
“Finishing what I start! Too much yarn and too many little projects still on needles!!!”
“Finishing things. I start to knit an article then put it aside when something else more interesting comes along.Frustrating.”
“Startitis! Too many things on the needles and too many wonderful things to knit.”
WIPs, Startitis, and Frustration
I was surprised at the intense frustration I felt emenating from these responses. I usually find my multiplying WIPs a source of amusement, but for these lovely knitters, the large numbers of WIPs was a source of annoyance. Even anger… at themselves!
So the first thing I want to say to any knitter who feels angry with him or herself at your large number of works in progress: please give yourselves a break!
Take a deep breath and repeat after me: “The number of projects on my needles do not reflect my self worth.”
Do you feel a little silly saying this? Maybe you’re even saying, “Oh, Nicole, of course I know that my self-worth has nothing to do with how many knitting projects I have going on.”
If so, fantastic! I’ll say it again: give yourself a break!
In fact, I can think of many benefits of having several knitting projects in the works.
- If you become overwhelmed or frustrated with one project, you can easily switch to another without having to find needles or yarn to cast on a new project.
- When you feel like you’ll cry if you have to knit one more stitch of black or green or brown (or any other color you’re getting really tired of), you can switch to another project. Maybe one that’s multi-colored or hot pink or has stripes.
- Bored silly knitting endless rounds of stockinette for a pair of socks or a sweater? Switch to that cabled project or that complicated intarsia and re-engage your brain.
In short, when you have a whole lot of projects on the needles, you always have a way to easily switch gears whenever something in your current project isn’t bringing you joy.
After all, why else do we knit? If it’s not first and foremost to bring ourselves joy, then I don’t really see the point!
But what if your problem is more that you can’t seem to avoid casting on for a new project whenever you see a new, shiny pattern? Or maybe a brand-new yarn that is just begging for you to dig into it?
I honestly see both too many WIPs and Startitis as problems if you have people specifically depending upon you to finish certain projects. (And if that’s the case, I imagine you already have motivation to finish those. But correct me if I’m wrong!)
Consider this: Startitis is a low-cost way to get a hit of instant gratification that normally only comes by spending money. (Okay, so sometimes you’re spending too much money to buy new yarn to fulfill your Startitis urges. That, I admit, can be a problem.)
But if your Startitis consists of “I just saw this pattern, and I must cast on NOW” or “I bought this yarn on sale, I couldn’t help it, it was a tremendous bargain and it’s gorgeous and I can’t stop petting it”?
Assuming you’re using stash yarn or that bargain yarn you couldn’t resist, it costs you little to nothing to indulge.
Startitis often evolves into “too many WIPs,” which has all the above benefits. Especially if you enjoy a wide variety of projects, multiple WIPs and Startitis can be a tremendous boost to your knitting bliss.
But, but, but…
I’m anticipating two responses thus far.
1: “Gosh… you’re right! Too many WIPs? Serious case of Startitis? No big deal. I’ll just roll with it!”
2: “Ugh…. If I’d wanted self-help twaddle, I’d have watched Dr. Phil. This is a serious problem! I want to overcome it! Please help!”
So what can you do if you really want to turn your Startitis into Finishitis?
Stay tuned! In part 2 I’ll discuss some strategies to manage Startitis and turn those WIPs into FOs.
In the meantime, share below. What drives you crazy about Startitis and multiple WIPs? Do you find any benefits at all to having multiple WIPs?