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Six-Step Program for Completing Challenging Creations
So you've decided you're ready for a more challenging project, perhaps that dream garment with more colors or stitches or instruction than you've ever imagined. How do you get beyond the initial jitters and start the process?

Most of us know how common pitfalls can stall our progress, often permanently. But we also know the deep pride, fulfillment, and satisfaction we feel when we push ourselves and complete a project.

Let me offer these time-proven steps for moving from inspiration to action and on to that magical place of knitting nirvana.
  1. Find your dream. Look around in books and magazines. Pay attention to what makes your heart soar, which items elicit that uncontrollable "oooh" response. Seek something that appeals to you on a purely aesthetic level.

    It's important to clear your mind of any preconceived notions you may have about what you can and cannot do. Don't think about the gauge, don't even consider the practicality of the project. If it fills your soul with excitement and desire, it's the one.

  2. Find a mentor, the knitterly version of a personal trainer. We're surrounded by skilled knitters who have more knowledge and experience than any book ever could convey. Seek out a mentor, either through your guild, local shops, or online forums. Ask this person if she (or he) would be willing to coach you through any rough spots you may encounter in your project.

  3. Go public. It's a mean trick to play on yourself, but it works. Without anyone to witness our failure, we can easily let projects fade into the background when we hit those inevitable road blocks. But if we proclaim our goals to the world, it's harder to come up with excuses as to why the project hasn't progressed.

    Who should you tell? The best person is a knitting friend, a project buddy or buddies, people in your same position who can support you and provide encouragement.

    These buddies need not be in your home town, either. Some knitters mark their progress in Web logs, or blogs, while others mark it in email lists or forums. The important thing is to get support for your journey from another knitter.

  4. Pace yourself to avoid burnout. Set realistic personal goals for progress. They can be as small as knitting two rows each day, or one pattern repeat each week, or whatever makes sense.

  5. Surrender yourself to the experience. Enjoy the feel of the yarn as it slides through your fingers, the smell of the fibers, the way the light reflects off the different colors or textures. Enjoy the miraculous way in which your garment slowly begins to take shape from what was an inanimate ball of yarn. Enjoy the experience of total concentration as you compose each stitch.

    Cherish the familiarity and comfort you'll develop with this project as it becomes an intimate part of your life, traveling with you and keeping you company through sickness and health, happiness and sadness, calm and concern.

    Remember, this is about dispelling old messages about what you can and cannot do.

  6. Treat yourself along the way. If you're feeling disheartened or frustrated by your pace, do yourself and your project a favor: Take a break and whip up an instant-gratification item. You'll return to your original project feeling refreshed and encouraged to continue, and it'll show in the finished results.

Many of these steps may seem obvious, but they do work. If you take it one stitch at a time, seek help the minute you sense frustration, and surrender to the process, you'll discover that with a little patience you can accomplish anything.

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