Problem-solving techniques and knitting progress (same, or not?)

The book that I am publishing is being proofread and indexed. I have not solved the horrendous computer problems, but I did come up with a series of workarounds that allowed me to reach this point. Today I need to call Adobe tech support and locate someone at a level I can talk to about this sequence of difficulties. If I can’t rely on this particular suite of software, I will have to close my publishing business. It’s that serious.

Yesterday I was thinking about how I have learned (over time, and the hard way) to come through things like this in one piece (more or less). As I pondered, I identified and articulated a few personal operating principles, one of which is in the form of a question. This list is not definitive, but it felt good to say to myself, "Yeah, that’s some of how I ratchet myself through the hardest days."

  1. Don’t worry about next week’s problems today. I do think about them, because I might come up with a solution, but worry doesn’t change anything. This principle was one of the hardest for me to discover. I used to think that if I was worrying, I was working. Not.
  2. Can I think of one more thing to try? This one is huge, and is what got the book to the stage that it’s at. I need to reiterate that I have neither located nor solved the software problems. Even after consulting a whole bunch of people who earn salaries solving problems like this. The problem isn’t critical to them. It is to me. So when it became obvious that help was not going to be forthcoming, I came up with, one more thing at a time, a set of workarounds that let me baby the file to this point. And this was after I’d spent more than a year coming up with "one more thing" ideas and trying them out . . . including "one more consultant," "one more tech support call," and so on. I thought I’d hit the end of the line. And then I thought of one more thing to try. . . . It led to partial success, and led to one more thing. . . .
  3. Take small steps, and keep going. Often when I think of the entire project I am engaged in, I become overwhelmed and paralyzed. This is actually a variant of #2: what is the one next step I need to take to keep this project moving? As long as the project is worthwhile, it’s okay if it takes a long time to finish. I just need to continue piling up the small tasks. I do, also, need a big-picture overview of where I’m going, but that’s the easy part. Sometimes the one next thing has to be focused on the horizon, rather than the object in front of me. A corollary of this is keeping the butt in the chair (or the paintbrush moving, or whatever) longer than I’d really like to. And that needs to be balanced by. . . .
  4. Do something else for a while. This, too, took me a looooooong time to figure out. Sometimes focusing on the same problem for too long produces tunnel vision, and sometimes a solution will only come with time and a bit of relaxation. As the people who know me are aware, I’m never at a loss for potential other projects. The trick in my life is keeping the number of interesting endeavors large enough to provide variety and small enough that many of them do actually get completed. It’s also important to come back to the original issue, not just escape it.

Speaking of such things, I’ll have a few more photos from the weekend as soon as I can write something to go with them. At the moment, I have a couple of knitting reports.

I have been wearing the Must Have Cardigan (heavily modified in the stitch-pattern department) without buttons since August 11. I took it with me on the road trip to Washington, thinking I would locate buttons en route, and then it was chilly, I needed another layer, it was there. And I didn’t connect with buttons anywhere during that adventure. The sweater works, so I’ve continued to wear it almost daily, buttonless. But last week, I attached a quick button-quest to another errand:

Webcardi155

And I’m continuing to knit on the "not sure what it will be" Socks That Rock project in Rook-y. I’ve been corrected about the source of the yarn. I said earlier that it was given to me; I’m told that it was a trade for consultations I’d offered. Works for me. It’s lovely, fun to knit with, and the project I think I am making seems to be working. It’s no longer a rectangle.

Webrooky156

I love the way the colors are showing up. You’d see that in a sock, of course, but I am greatly enjoying the color variations on a larger canvas.

The big question I had in embarking on the idea I’m trying is whether I’d have enough yarn. There’s enough for two socks. But is there enough for what I have in mind? I could get all scientific about it, but I’d rather knit (and even rip) than do a bunch of calculations right now (all my calculation-energy has been going into solving technical problems with Adobe software). So I did baseline math and then cast on.

I’m making the largest piece first, then weighing the yarn-used and comparing to yarn-left. Looking promising. The little lace panel on the left does match the one on the right when it’s stretched out. The yarn-overs on that side just close up a bit more while the work’s in progress.

This is one of the current activities that gives me a sense of accomplishment to balance out the sense of frustration with the computer challenges. (We’re actually beyond challenges here, but I’m defining them that way for my own peace of mind, or in order to salvage a piece of my mind, or something.)

Because I knit, I will probably not yell at whoever I get on the line at Adobe.

No, I don’t want to call. If I’d fixed the underlying situation, I wouldn’t have to. I do want to continue publishing knitting books. In order to do that, I need to make this call.

Breakfast first.

Then: the one next thing.

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13 Responses

  1. I love both projects, the mirrored patterns and their colors! Still too warm for sweaters in Missouri. Good luck with the computer stuff!

  2. Rook-y looks wonderful in that vest? half sweater? cardigan? Knitting with black is tough! Do the color changes make it easier, I wonder?

    Your list is inspiring – I’m going to print it out and keep it on my bulletin board as a daily reminder for myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed by work!

  3. What wonderful words of wisdom. Your four suggestions are great reminders of how to live in a difficult world without either freezing up or burning out.

    The sweaters look great. I’ve picked up a sweater I started last year and I’m at the stage where I’m wondering if it’s going to be OK in the end or not… and knitting on faith as I wonder.

    Good luck with the book.

  4. I’m about to dial Adobe. Been working up to it. The situation is so massive that it’s hard to think of how to communicate succinctly. Other than primal scream {wry grin}>

    On knitting with Rook-y: I normally don’t like knitting with black at all. This is a delight. Yes, the color variation makes a difference.

  5. A great list for many, but especially those of us who are out own boss! Thanks for sharing. I could of used the list last week though! 😉

  6. Number 4 is especially useful. Some of my best solutions have come to me while I was working on something else. The “back of my brain” would continue working on the problem while my attention was focused elsewhere.
    Looking at this from the outside, is Adobe the ONLY software that will do what you need? Seems like even learning a whole new system would take less energy than figuring constant workarounds…

  7. I could go back to Quark XPress, which I had reasons for leaving in 2003 (Quark 4). Quark 8 is now more functionally equivalent to InDesign, and yes, I was looking at switching back yesterday. There’s about a six-month learning curve in the shift back and forth; the worst would probably be over within about three months. I’m contemplating. Right now, any software switch also involves cash, which is more critically needed right now to print the book (instead of for buying yet more software).

    The supervisors at Adobe have no technical knowledge. The tech I got yesterday gave me several more “one more thing” ideas to try.

    But yes, I’m keeping my options open.

  8. A few months learning curve sounds a lot better than another year of nothing working and going nuts.

  9. Donna: Yup. I still need to check into what kind of rocks are in the road for converting existing projects.

  10. I’m rooting for you and your publishing house, whatever you choose. You have a great mission and produce good, important books. Keep at it, friend!

  11. I like the idea of switching to Quark now that Adobe is such a big fat bloated monopoly that has bought up as much of the competition as possible.

  12. The new Adobe Photo software is also a pain in the tush – to put it nicely. The best of luck with all of this.

    The blue cardigan is my dream of the perfect sweater. When and where will the pattern be available?

    Lindy (formerly of Salida, CO now in AZ)

  13. The blue cardigan is the Must Have Cardigan from Patons Street Smart book (http://www.patonsyarns.com/patternbook.php?PBS=500989), except that I changed all the cable patterns. I kept the basic shape (lengthening the body 2 inches and the sleeves 1 inch, because that’s what I have to do) and the filler stitch at the sides of the body and the undersides of the sleeves.

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