Organization! What an evocative word. I harbor deep in my psyche the Tupperware fantasy: with the perfect organizational system my life would be clean, effortless, and admirable. The reality is that I've never been able to impose organization on my life--all I can do is refine what is already working to make my life and the demands upon it easier.
In response to several queries, I thought I'd show you how I use the mini-journals I wrote about last year to keep my knitting from going off the rails.
1. First of all, I spend a few happy hours tearing pictures out of magazines and gathering colorful papers. I glue or tape these to the covers of inexpensive university exam books (popularly called blue books)--these 7" x 8.5" booklets are available at university bookstores or at my online shop (10 books for $5). When I'm done decorating the mini-journals I have a nice little row of empty books ready for my next brainstorm.
2. OK, brainstorm arrives! I pull out whichever mini-journal resonates with my concept. With a marker I add the working title of my design ("Top Drawer," in the example above, is named after the inspiration photo: my laundered underwear ready to be put away in the top drawer of my chest of drawers).
3. I put in the date (really, DO THIS! It is very helpful, and despite what you are thinking at the moment you start out you will NOT remember when you had this idea).
4. If the inspiration photo is available I paste it into the book (note underwear photo)--sometimes the inspiration is already pasted in my inspiration journal. I make a note of where to find it.
5. I pull out yarns that are in the color families of my inspiration. I corral them in tote box lids, which allows me to carry them around easily while swatching. Here are two new designs in progress:
6. I make notes about my swatches; which colors I used, what I liked and didn't like. I tape in bits of the yarns that seem to be working and write down their identifcation numbers.
7. I start to refine my vision for the garment, make little sketches and comments about the "feel" I'm aiming for. Bit by bit I'll add details, like measurements.
8. I begin to work on the motifs. I'll paste the motif into the mini-journal, identify the color placement, and then analyze whether it worked or not. I keep records on ALL swatches; the failed ones tell me a lot!
9. I now figure out the actual garment. The thing about knitting is that it is very pragmatic--you can't just wave your arms and have a grand plan: you need to determine how many stitches are used at any given point, and this is a very literal process. I try my best to keep my arithmetic clear and well-labelled so I can remember how I got from point A to point B--I am not naturally good at computation. NO photos because my calculation pages are such a mess.
10. The day has come to begin knitting! I gather the yarns for my project in a dedicated basket. The mini-journal stays in the basket. I keep only the balls of yarn I'm using at the moment in the basket--the other balls needed for the project are in a plastic bag to keep them out of the way.
11. What of the mini-journals that haven't made it to the actual knitting stage? These stand in an inexpensive little letter holder on my desk. Now and then I pull them out and add notes or just refresh my memory. Perhaps they will never see the light of day--the mini-journals are so inexpensive that it doesn't matter.
Totally unrelated but fun news: Did you catch this mention of Fair Isle sweaters in the New York Times yesterday (October 21st)? Just think of how much money we save by knitting our own sweaters.....