We had the first really busy day of the season (besides the fair, of course) yesterday, and the Poster Queen had the day off, so I was working very hard. Then I got a call to say that Dr. Drew had shown up for a visit ( a surprise for Pokey’s birthday). So it was a fun day.

At the gym, I read about an interesting kind of brain damage. In some cases, when the corpus callosum is damaged, people become petrified by their brain’s inability to make up its mind, as it were. The left hemisphere has an impulse to do something, and the right hemisphere has an impulse to do something else. In normal brains, this is okay, The two hemispheres can communicate, and we decide which to do, or choose to do the two things in a given order. In these brain-damaged individuals, however, the conflict leads to paralysis. One man froze on a staircase for ten to twenty minutes at a time, waiting for his brain to work things out and begin sending messages to his body again.

Naturally, this makes me think of WIPs. I know this was your first thought, too.

Some WIPs (works in progress) become UFOs (unfinished objects) through failure to follow through. I have some of those, and of course #1 son’s celtic cross quilt is on the verge. But we won’t speak of that.

In general, though, I don’t care to have a lot of WIPs. There are plenty of knitters on the web who are working on five or six projects at once — Dweezy does this, for example, and it seems to work for him. For me, though, I think it would end up being like the brain-damaged individuals. I would be so paralyzed with indecision over which one to work on that I wouldn’t do any of them.

So when I have multiple WIPs, it is usually just because they are — or I can persuade myself that they are — in completely separate categories.

I often have a novel and a work of nonfiction that I am reading at the same time. If I read two novels at once, I might mix up the characters, or find it hard to shift from one imaginary world to the other. But I can read Lolita in one spot and Sensible Chic in another, since they are entirely different.

Just so, it doesn’t bother me to have the Windblown Shadows quilt, #2 daughter’s skirt, the Lotus shawl, and a bawk all going at once. Quilting is different from sewing clothing. Both are different from complex knitting like the shawl, and the shawl is itself different from simple knitting like the bawk. Even if I make the next bawk complex, sport or worsted weight cables will be distinctly different from lace.

This may not be completely convincing. Allow me, then, to offer you Julie Theaker‘s completely convincing argument for having two quite different knitting projects going at once.

Theaker distinguishes between Epic Knitting — things like a lace shawl on #1 needles or an 18-color traditional Fair Isle sweater — and Zombie Knitting, which covers all that unshaped stockinette.

So last night while #1 son and I were having a quiet and companionable evening, he vanquishing things in Warcraft and I knitting, I got a few more rows done on the Lotus shawl. Once my husband and Dr. Drew and Pokey returned and I became engaged in attacking Dr. Drew’s politics (sorry about that), I switched to the 2×2 ribbing of the bawk. This works well. I can have Zombie knitting for knitting while reading or during really interesting conversations, and Epic knitting for times when I can give it my full attention.

If you have a wider emotional range than that, you might need more WIPs. Maybe that explains the sheer number of WIPs some knitters juggle. There could be color work for happy occasions, steel-gray Ganseys for coping with depression and disappointment, chunky wool garter stitch afghans for angry moods…

Hey, it is Chanthaboune‘s 21st birthday. Go wish her Happy Birthday, okay?