Got knitting UFOs (UnFinished Objects) tucked away in your home? Here’s a chance to bring them to light and clear them out!
They’re in closets, tucked into bags and boxes, stuffed behind sofas and under beds, maybe even thrown into attics. What are they? They’re UFOs! Not unidentifying flying objects, but rather UnFinished Objects.
UFOs aren’t simply knitting projects in progress. They’re knitting projects that would be in progress if we were actually working on them. But sadly, we’re not. We’ve abandoned them. Not always intentionally; sometimes we just set them aside and don’t get around to picking them back up.
Why not? Sometimes that depends on why we set them aside in the first place. Did we set them aside because we were getting frustrated and needed a break? That’s a prime candidate for a UFO, especially if the thought of picking the project back up fills you with dread. Were we getting bored and felt the need to re-energize our knitting lives by casting on for a different project? There’s another prime candidate for a UFO.
A third candidate for UFOdom: you started a project for a person who no longer needs it. This is especially true of baby clothing! If you attempt, for instance, a baby sweater that takes longer than you expected and, well into it, the baby in question has become a toddler, you’re pretty likely to abandon the project altogether!
Other times you might set projects aside simply for more urgent projects. Needing to knit gifts is a frequent reason why I set aside many projects. If I’m making things for my daughters, for new babies, for friends getting married, or for family members for Christmas, I’m very likely to set aside a current project. I try to come back to them, but that doesn’t always happen!
UFOs and Feelings
I’ve noticed in the knitting community that the concept of the UFO is met with one of two feelings: amusement and shame. Sometimes the concept is met with both simultaneously! One minute we’re laughing about the projects we’ve hidden away and pretend don’t exist; the next, we’re silently berating ourselves, mumbling “what is wrong with you?”
It’s that emotion of shame that I’d like to address today. Please, don’t let a UFO make you feel bad about yourself. Life happens! The existence of UFOs in your life is not proof of a moral failing. They’re just projects you haven’t finished. So please try not to berate yourself if you’ve got a bunch of UFOs.
UFOs can, of course, be a problem if they’re taking up too much space, holding up too many of your needles, or claiming too much of your yarn. In that case, there’s only one way to deal with the UFO problem. Tackle them!
Tackling Your UFOs
Obviously, there are only two ways to tackle a UFO: unravel it or finish it.
One of the hardest parts of this process is deciding when to unravel and when to finish! There are certain instances when unraveling is the obvious choice. To wit:
1) You’ve lost the pattern. Sure, go ahead and try to find the pattern if you really want to. But if you’ve done some digging and can’t find it, don’t be a hero. Unravel the UFO and let go!
2) You hate the pattern and/or the yarn. With sufficient time away from the project, you probably know how you feel about it. Does the pattern give you a headache? Does it make you want to throw the project across the room? Does the yarn hurt your hands or make you feel nauseated because the colors make your head spin? Again, don’t try to be a hero. Knitting should make you feel good, not awful. If the project doesn’t bring you joy, release that yarn into the wild. If you like the pattern but not the yarn, donate or sell it. If you like the yarn but not the pattern, you can keep the yarn and find a better pattern.
Overall, if you know the pattern and you like it, and you know you enjoy the yarn, you might want to keep the project. Even if the intended recipient was born 4 years ago or graduated 3 years ago. You could always sell or donate the project when you’ve finished it, or you could even wait for the next baby to be born or wedding/graduation among your friends or family.
But what if your UFO pile is enormous? What if it threatens to spill into multiple rooms of your home? Obviously you’ll want to knit those projects, but you can’t very well knit them all at once… what to do? If you’re the kind of person who finds great satisfaction in crossing or checking items off a list, make a list! If not, just dive in and know that you’re bound to get to the bottom eventually.
Now I’ll make a confession. The primary reason I’m writing this post is because I have a few UFOs that I would really like to finish. For once, I’m not actively working on any urgent project, so I’m ready to tackle my UFOs and get them taken care of.
I’m going to share these projects with you so that everyone knows about them, and I’ll know the eyes of the world (or at least everyone who reads Knitting for Charity) are on me. Hopefully, that will give me the motivation to finish!
I’m probably one of the lucky ones: I have just 3 UFOs. (I could consider a fourth, but as of now I still consider it “resting,” not “abandoned.” We’ll see if I’m fooling myself… ha.)
So here they are!
Project number one: Lion Brand’s Modern Miters Afghan
I love this project. It’s been a great way to use up all the yarn given to me over the past several years, ever since folks found out that I enjoy knitting and, especially, knitting for charity.
I started this afghan well over a year ago, when my husband and I were looking at sending my older daughter to Europe with her marching band. Knowing it was going to be an expensive trip, I thought of raffling it off to help pay for it.
The problem here was two-fold. Number one, I had no idea just how long it would take me to knit this afghan (especially given all the interruptions to knitting it I would face over the next year). Number two, once you get past the 2nd or 3rd row of rectangles, this beautiful project ceases to be portable, meaning I could only work on it at home.
If I ever knit this project again, I’ll knit the rectangles separately, rather than joining them as I go, to help prevent this problem! I’m even considering knitting the rest of the project that way, after I finish that top row. It depends on how it looks once I block it.
The third problem with this project is that not long after I started to knit it, I began a babysitting job that wound up paying for nearly all of the trip. Which meant that I no longer had quite as much motivation to finish it!
I think it’s a fun and pretty afghan, though, and if it doesn’t stretch much when I block it, I’m pretty close to finishing it. (If it does stretch a lot, I might be done after I finish the top row!)
Project number two: the Modified Linen Stitch Pullover
I can’t even remember how long ago I started this project. I believe I started while I was still living in Ohio, which was nearly 5 years ago, so… at least that long!
I started it because at the time, my husband told me he would like a sweater for Christmas. He knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it by Christmas, but he said that he would consider my starting the sweater to be his gift.
You see a copy of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns in the center because I took the pattern from that book. I actually took two patterns, a cardigan and a raglan pullover, and combined them, because my husband wanted a pullover that zipped at the top. (By the way, I highly recommend this book for sweater-knitting, particularly if you’re not an experienced sweater knitter. Very clear directions and schematics, and wonderful if you want to design your own sweater.)
While we were in a Joann store one day, my husband pointed to a different sweater pattern book and said he liked the photo on the front. He said he liked the texture of the sweater on the front cover. I cracked open the book and found the stitch pattern for that sweater; it was called modified linen stitch. So after swatching to make sure I would achieve the same gauge as I would with stockinette stitch from the Knitter’s Handy Book, I inserted the different stitch pattern.
It’s been so long since I started this sweater that I have no idea why I abandoned it. I suspect it’s because sweater knitting is such a big project, I may have gotten overwhelmed. I probably fell in love with projects like hats and fingerless mitts (projects that I still enjoy) and felt suffocated by the commitment of sweater knitting. (Kind of like the “sweater curse” in reverse!)
On a recent short road trip, I decided to take the project out of my closet and knit several rounds. I found the stitch pattern quite enjoyable, and it certainly makes the project more interesting than knitting a solid-color stockinette stitch pattern. (I’m pretty sure that if this were a stockinette stitch pattern, I’d have unraveled the project long ago!)
I have decided, though, that I’m going to finish the Modern Miters Afghan before I tackle the pullover because the former project is so much closer to being finished. As you can see, I have a long way to go on the pullover! But I think the interesting stitch pattern will save it, and it should make a great project for road trips and evenings when I want to relax and watch TV or listen to music.
Project number three: Granny Square Afghan
It feels weird calling this an afghan when, at the moment, it’s just a pile of granny squares. But there you go.
I mentioned a few years ago in this article that I was about to embark upon learning to crochet granny squares. As it turned out, the Knitty.com articles linked within that article taught me very well. So well, in fact, that for a while I was addicted to crocheting granny squares! I’m actually quite sure that if I were to pick up a crochet hook and decide to begin anew, I would become hooked all over again.
(Yes, that pun was intentional. Thank you.)
Unfortunately, that pile of granny squares you see above are nowhere near enough for an afghan, which is what I’d like to use them for. So I’m saving this project for after I’ve finished the other two. This is also a wonderful way to while away evening hours watching TV or listening to music.
So there you have it: my three UFOs. Now I’d like to invite you, dear readers, to share your own UFOs. You can post photos if you’d like, and/or share the patterns from which they came. You can share them before you unravel them for good, or you can share them if you, like me, would like some motivation to finish. Let’s start a community of knitting UFO tacklers!
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