Being crafty is a double-edged sword. Not only does it give me something to do during football season while my husband's hogging the television, it is somewhat empowering to look at project ideas or sweater-like items in stores and say "I cant make that." It was a pretty cool feeling the first time I looked at a sweater on a website and realized that I (as in ME) could make that. Granted, my first sweater was quite the learning experience and has some mistakes on it, but it's pretty flippin' cute and I'm proud of it.
However, as I've heard other yarn crafters complain, it does mean that anytime someone wants a handmade gift they instantly turn to me. And because either I tend to think I have more time than I do or the requester thinks that it takes less time for me to make a project than it does, I get swamped. This happens a lot around the holidays and what I call "baby season" (typically the spring).
My favorite example from a year or two ago was someone who asked me to make a baby blanket in early April for a baby shower in middle May; I said sure, just pick up the yarn you would like for me to use and I'll get started. A month and a half to make a baby blanket is more than enough time, even if I had other projects. Well, the requester forgot to pick up the yarn time after time (even with me requesting) until a week before the shower. The shower was the same day I was supposed to be leaving on a road trip. So, I spent that week frantically preparing for my vacation in between getting the blanket done; I was supposed to leave at 6 am for a 12 hour drive and had to stay up until midnight to get the blanket done. Moral of the story: If you ask a crafty friend to make a project, give them ample (as in, almost double what you think necessary) to make it. And get them the yarn pronto.
As an addendum to the moral, if you request the handmade gift, then YOU (yes, YOU!) purchase the yarn. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me to make them a gift, then been shocked when I asked them to purchase the yarn. I don't know what people are thinking: you'd have to pay for all of the materials if you purchased any other gift, so don't expect that a handmade one will be free.
Not only do I get swamped with requests (they really do all come at the same time!), there are things I want to make for myself. Which means that for years, I had piles and bags of yarn, books, and projects all over the place. It eventually got to the point that I was getting frustrated with all the mess and extra yarn all over the place (how my husband put up with it for as long as he did, I don't know). I tried different containers upon containers, and none really suited my needs. So, one day I noticed several women at a knitting group carrying their yarn and projects in the same bag. I asked about it, and it turns out that Thirty One's Organizing Utility Tote ($25, plus $6 for personalization, www.thirtyonegifts.com) is perfectly suited for the job.
However,I found that the bag does not hold my pattern books as well as I would like- they fall to the bottom of the bag, rather than stay upright. Also, I like to keep my completed projects separate from the in-production projects. So, I purchased myself a small cloth box ($7,Target and Lowes, http://www.target.com/p/ClosetMaid-Sahara-Yellow-Fabric-Drawers/-/A-12943234) that keeps the books upright, as well as my completed projects and my bag of stuffing.
Now everything is contained and I've enacted a new rule: No new projects, for anyone, unless the yarn fits in my bag!