The 3 Main Reasons Knitting UFOs Exist

Filed in Just Stitches by on March 26, 2015 0 Comments

This past weekend I was teaching at a retreat focused on knitting UFOs (UnFinished Objects). It was a huge success and now several dozen UFOs are on their way to becoming FOs in one form or another.

Even through the details of the answers to “how to move on” were different, it became apparent that there really are only a few reasons that UFOs exist (at least in the world of knitting). Even though my own UFO collection is not particularly large, I realized that I too could classify each project into one of these three categories. By classifying your UFO, it becomes significantly easier to move forward in some manner.

I Got Distracted

The Problem: I believe a lot of UFOs start in this category, but then later migrate to one of the other categories. We start working on a project, excited for the final outcome. Then, for whatever reason, we get distracted from the project. Sometimes life makes it too difficult to work on at the moment. Other times it simply is because the newness wears off. I know for myself once I have “learned” what I wanted to from the project, I quickly lose interest.

Slowly but surely, the project slips to the bottom of the pile (or back of the closet) until it is rarely – if ever – seen. The rare occasions when it does surface, all it really does is speak to us with words of guilt and/or failure.

The Solution: When you find a project for which you have lost interest ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will I ever finish the project, and even if I did, would I wear/use/gift it? If no, then proceed to question #2. If yes, then make a commitment to work on it even just 5 minutes before working on anything newer, or hire someone to finish it for you.
  2. Do I still (or did I ever) like working with the yarn used in the project? If no, then proceed to question #3. If yes, then make a commitment to rip it out before you pick up your needles again. Make sure you “recondition” the yarn so it will behave like unused yarn.
  3. Is there anyone I personally know who would like to finish this project and/or would be willing to buy the yarn from me? If no, then pull out the needles and donate it (no looking back). If yes, then do what needs to happen to make that happen, whether it is giving it away or listing it on Ravelry.

I Am Stuck

The Problem: For any of a variety of reasons you are unable to complete the project. This might be not knowing where you are in the project (sometimes “I Got Distracted” projects end up here), not understanding the instructions or not being sure how to proceed.

The variations of not knowing how to proceed are numerous and include:

  • Having the pieces complete but not being able or wanting to take the time to seam the pieces to form the finished project.
  • Being close to finishing but not having enough yarn.
  • Realizing the fit is mostly good, but not quite right.

The Solution: Before doing anything else, start by going through the questions above. If the answer to #1 is yes, then we need to help get you unstuck, if not; then proceed through the remaining questions.

If you are going to finish the project, the first issue is to determine why you are stuck. Once you know the reason you are stuck, you will mostly likely need to enlist the help of at least one other knitter to help you figure out how to proceed. This is where a knitting group or local yarn shop can be so valuable. Keep in mind, that a yarn shop is a business, so it may be necessary to invest in (read: pay for) some private help time. However, if you really want to finish that UFO, the investment will be well worth it.

Once you get unstuck, make the project a priority or you might inadvertently start the cycle all over again!

I Don’t Like It

The Problem: This one is often the hardest to admit to being the reason. There are many reasons we don’t like a project but most of them are rather fundamental – I don’t like the yarn, I don’t like the pattern, I don’t like the project. Sometime is it just one, but I saw at least one example of all three during the retreat!

The Solution: The first step is to analyze your dislike of the project. Once you know which elements are involved, then proceed as follows:

  • If you don’t like the project, start at question #1 and proceed from there.
  • If you don’t like the stitch pattern(s) used, start at question #2 and proceed from there.
  • If you don’t like the yarn, start at question #3 and proceed from there.

Which are you?

Most of my UFO projects fall into the first category. I start a design and once I know in mind how it will come out, I lose interest and move on to the next knitting problem. I used to have some UFOs in the “Don’t Like It” category, but those got donated long ago and the prison project that received them appeared to be very grateful.

Which category do most of your UFOs fall into and what is your plan to turn them into FOs?


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