Freedom of choice, or what happens when there are too many options

Dialog with myself, two nights ago, looking through a magazine:

reminds me of the Queen Anne's Lace, the first crochet pattern I fell in love with

Caribbean Topper by DROPS Design in Crochet! magazine May 2010

“Oooo, what a pretty vest pattern!  This would look great in that Sheepi(ish) Pink(ish) yarn that I have.

Hmm, they say it runs large.  Maybe I ought to do a gauge swatch*.”

(Makes swatch.)

I love(ish) Sheep(ish) Pink(ish) yarn - except here

I love(ish) Sheep(ish) Pink(ish) yarn – except here

“The gauge swatch… it’s not so pretty.  The stitches look too fat.  I know, I’ll use the Simply Soft in that antique-pink color.”

(Makes swatch.)

aptly named color: Victorian Rose

aptly named color: Victorian Rose

“Oh, dear.  This one doesn’t look much better.  Well, I really wanted to use the Sheep(ish) anyway.  But it doesn’t look good.  Maybe I should choose another pattern?  No, I picked this top, I should find some yarn to use to make it.

I know, the Unforgettable yarn!”

(Makes swatch.)

I sing that Nat King Cole song in my head whenever I use this yarn

I sing that Nat King Cole song in my head whenever I use this yarn

“Much better!  But I really want to work with the Sheep(ish), that color is just so pretty.”

(Looks at patterns for 1-1/2 hours.)

“Aha!  Found one!  This one would look great with the Sheep(ish) yarn!  But maybe I oughta go back to that vest pattern.  Which swatch was it that looked better?  Oh, wait, I can look at patterns on Ravelry.”

I finally got to bed around 4am, and all I’d accomplished was making those 3 gauge swatches.  What happened, you ask?  When faced with “too many” choices I have a real difficulty making up my mind.  Devo had a song many years ago called “Freedom of Choice” that wraps up this concept all nice and tidy.  Basically it states that people say they want the freedom to choose whatever, but in reality there are so many choices that we secretly long for less things to choose from.  You know that pattern database I mentioned in my last post?  I’m still working away at it a little at a time, and so far have entered more than 800 patterns – and I’m getting close to 3/4 of the way done.

So I could search all night through those patterns without even hitting up Ravelry, Antique Pattern Library, or any of the myriad pattern sites I have bookmarked, just to find the “perfect” pattern for the yarn I want to use.  Then I waffle and decide that no, it’s the pattern that is important and I have to find the “perfect” yarn for the pattern, not the other way around.  Pretty soon a couple of hours slide by and I have accomplished absolutely nothing – AND fried my mind!

So when you get stuck in that loop of indecision, how do you fix it?  Pretend your project is your kingdom, and you are its Queen or King (or Grand Poobah, whatever).  Once I realize what I’m doing, and sometimes that can take a while, I will declare out loud in my best Queen voice, “The pattern is the important part. I must find yarn for the pattern.”  (It’s especially fun if you put on an accent.)  Somehow the act of saying OUT LOUD what I need to do becomes the magical key that locks the gate so that more ideas don’t try to creep in there.  If I don’t do that, my kingdom gets overrun by peasants, who, while they may mean well, provide too many voices for me to listen to: “A dress, make a dress!”  “That Victorian Rose yarn is lovely, find a project for it now!”  “Hey, remember that blouse idea you wanted to sew!”  “You can add 3D things to your paintings!”

Obviously two nights ago I’d abandoned my kingdom else I wouldn’t have been frolicking in the woods with the fairies until 4am.  Actually, I think the analogy is falling apart now, so I’ll just wrap this up.

So, anyway.  In our present world we are faced with thousands of decisions every day, and when you’re a creative person, expect even more questions to come up.  Pretend you’re the Queen, declare out loud what you want to do to banish the peasants bringing you ideas, and by all means, follow through.  Do not let your ideas rule you, rule your ideas.

What’s your favorite way to keep yourself on track?

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*Note about those swatches:  If a pattern is confusing, or there is a large section of it that repeats a lot, I like to draw a stitch chart.  One reason being that I am a very visual person and can glance at a chart to easily see how the pattern works up, whereas reading the sometimes lengthy instructions confuses me and I often lose my place.  Secondly, drawing the chart myself is also the best way I know to make sure I understand each step of the pattern.  But I did it in the wrong order this time.  After I made those swatches I drew the chart – and found out I totally didn’t do it right!  Oops.

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One thought on “Freedom of choice, or what happens when there are too many options

  1. Pingback: The one where I just ramble on | madwhimsy

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