Aug 12, 2013

D145: Tip of the day - Time yourself

 Last night it took 30mins to pin and sew three letters into place, and then sew five of them into flags.  So I knew, by the end of the night, that I had about another 3-4 hours of work left on this project.

This evening it took almost an hour to arrange and pin eight letter and sew on four.  With another nine letters to sew and about 18 flags to sew up, all of them to turn out and press, and then sew onto bias binding, I'm running on schedule.

On Saturday I only had a gut feeling that I hadn't enough time to finish this project; this maths confirmed it for me.  So, in hindsight, I was very glad I followed my hunch about the time available and not my desire to try to get the project done.

This is my take-away tip for myself and you: as soon as you get your groove, get your gauge.

Are you in the flow of knitting? About to do something you're going to repeat a lot? Glance at the clock and see how long it takes you to... the pattern and cut out the fabric for an A-line dress.
...get a cake in the oven from opening the cupboard to starting the oven timer. (Was your butter frozen or room temp this time?) three cupcakes. (Don't use the first two or three if you're learning). up the arm seam on a baby's jacket.  That's about a foot of sewing.
...knit a row, or 100 stitches, or five rows, or 5cm of jumper front with this weight yarn.  
...Figure out your actual stitch-per-minute or rows-per-minute rate for the current task: knit for 5mins straight, uninterrupted (or interrupted, telly on or off, whichever is more likely), count your stitches or rows and divide by 5.

Whether it's for this task right now, planning for coming events or so you can go to bed at a reasonable hour (HA!) knowing your working speed is empowering.

For longer projects, make a note how long it took to complete a project and the rate at which you worked.  For example, I'm going to go back in Ravelry, where I record all my knitting projects, and note in my Shawl Collar Sweater project that it took me a fortnight to complete it when I worked on it nearly every day.  If I knew how many hours it took, I'd note that as well.

For me, knowing how long I'm going to take can be motivating.  I can get my hands around the task and see the end.  I also find it quite rewarding to have an awareness about my work, as it feels like my experience is starting to show.  

Last thing:  I also recommend flipping thoughts like "Ugh! I have so many hours to go STILL" on a task that's become stale, into "Only this long till the next thing!"  This silver lining, folks. Talk it, work it.

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