WIP – work in progress
UFO – unfinished object
All makers have these. Some keep them hidden in a closet or a tote under the bed. Others are on display on a shelf in the studio, shop or the back of the couch. Mine are in a chest that one of the dogs lays on in my studio window. Well most of them are any way.
So what is the difference between a WIP and a UFO?
That’s a personal question. In this post I’m going to help you with that journey and deciding what you have, WIP or UFO and what it needs to become, if anything.
I classify a UFO as a project that I haven’t worked in over a month. I currently have one exception and that is the dragon I am crocheting. He is very detailed and takes concentration. I usually only get to work on him once a week while everyone else is away for the evening. But if I get behind on something and need to make it up that dragon time is now gone.
Another way to classify a project as a UFO is how long since you have thought about that project? Maybe it was put in time out because you needed to learn something new or ran out of materials. For me one of those two things would keep that project in the WIP category.
Keep or Rip?
I challenge you to take some time and do the following exercise. Commit to set aside a certain amount of time each day to work on this until it is finished. Even 15 minutes will be progress. You can also just do a step a day. It will make more sense as you read. You might want to write things down as you go along to remember why you classed something the way you did. I encourage to be completely honest with yourself as you work through this process. This is personal doesn’t have to be shared with anyone. When the conclusion is to rip, do it immediately. If that gives you pause I understand. Start ripping and if you’re like “okay good”, keep going. If you are dying inside, stop, ask why and maybe reassess the situation. This process is exactly that, a process and it meant to be helpful, though at times it might be hard too.
Collect ALL of you projects and place them somewhere in a pile that they will be safe from others. If you have to clean up the project to add it to the pile, is it because it has been sitting and waiting on you for more than 4 or 5 days? Or is it because it is what you worked on last night? If it is the former, you choose your time frame, clean it up and add it to the pile. The latter, leave it there.
Pull out the projects, you are truly currently working on and put them back where they need to be. If you keep something to work on, on the go, in the car, front sitting room, wherever, if it something you work on often enough that you know it’s a WIP, go put it back.
Sort what remains by craft if are a multi-crafter. This isn’t necessary but might speed up some of the process.
Is there a particular craft that you are enjoying at moment? Is there one that just isn’t your thing right now? Choose one of these answers and start there.
Enjoying This Craft
If you are enjoying craft, that is great. Move on to the Project Questions Below.
Not My Thing Right Now
You’ll want to ask yourself some questions.
Why isn’t thing your thing right now? Is this a new skill that you are still honing or maybe something that you tried and didn’t really like? Or it’s an old friend and it just isn’t their turn.
Keep honing the skill. What I have found most helpful as I learn a new craft, is to NOT start a new project until I have finished the last one. Good intentions I know, but it is easier to commit to and build a good habit, when doing something new. Also purposely setting aside time to work on this new skill. That may mean sacrificing other making time to do this. Don’t try to hone a skill in the middle of the project you need that skill for. Set that project aside and start something small that has many opportunities for you to practice the new skill.
If you didn’t really like it, ask why? Is this something that needs another try? Or do you just need to find a new home for that materials you have? It took me at least half a dozen tries over the course of 2 years to teach myself to knit. Then I did it backwards, but that’s a story for another day. If you can go to a group and get some pointers that might be helpful.
If the skill is an old friend and it isn’t their turn, I have a few of those, cross stitch and embroidery to name a couple, decide how much space they can have in your craft space and stick to that.
When you think about or see this project what feelings does it bring up? Make a pile for each different emotion you first feel. Some examples are happy, dread, sadness for whatever reason, or even anger.
When your projects have been classed by feelings then choose one feeling to work with and ask the following questions for each project. I have included questions for for each of the example feelings I gave. Use these as a guide to your own questions for these same feelings or others that you felt.
How long has it been since you worked on it? Why?
Do you want to continue? Can you continue? What if you ran out of a material that you can no longer get?
What is the time frame for finishing it? This could be based on an event that it needs to be finished by or just how long you are willing to let it be around. I have a wedding shawl that I have been working on for about 8 years now. I am about half way. I don’t work on it monthly and very occasionally not even yearly, but it is a project I love doing and at my leisure.
If you have the materials to finish and you want to finish, you should keep it. Don’t put it away yet, one more step.
If you want to finish it but can’t do to lack of materials, try to think of something you can remake it into. If not then rip it and stash the materials.
Did you see this project and hang your head and think “oh no…”? Why?
Was it for someone and doesn’t fit for any reason?
Just not enjoying the project?
If it doesn’t fit but was for a particular person, why doesn’t it fit? Can you modify it to fit this person? Was it a baby gift and now that child is 3 years old? You can make it be a gift for someone else, donate the finished piece if you’re close or rip it and stash the materials.
If you aren’t enjoying the project you have a few more questions to answer. Is it for a person that knows about it? Do they have an expectation of what the finished piece looks like? Did they pick out the pattern? If no, then you can change the pattern to something that you enjoy more. If yes then you maybe have a conversation with that person and change the pattern. Another thing to consider is how much more would the project take? Is it a sweater that needs blocked and seamed? Maybe a friend can do that for you or yo pay your local shop to finish. I think if you are beyond 70% or to the completed object, finish it. The reason being is that even if you love the new chosen pattern some the eh is going to come toward the new project. You know your threshold and the piece you are making. Also take into consideration other obligations you currently have and what is coming up.
If you aren’t enjoying it and it is a commissioned piece, ask the above questions and think about your client and then decide what to do.
Sometimes a project ends up tied to a person or event, even one that the finished piece has nothing to do with. I was pregnant with my 4th child and started knitting a blanket for him. I miscarried at 16 weeks and had to have a D and C. That project lived for a long time in a box where I couldn’t see it. Then a few years later I needed the needles in that project. I got just the tips and left the rest in the box. More years later a young family at church had their first baby and gave him the name we gave our 4th child, Azariah. I knew then it was time to pull that blanket out and finish it. I did. It was still hard and sad but it was time.
When a project brings sadness I think that situation needs to be looked at from a couple of different perspectives; emotional and practical.
I know that the emotions I would have felt ripping out that blanket or throwing the yarn away would have been heart wrenching, so I kept it, with no plan in mind, just kept it. That is where the practical comes in though. Do you have the space to just keep it? As a maker that mostly knits and crochets, most of my projects are small and don’t take up much space. If you are a welder, wood worker or it’s a project car… Well that might be a different story. Right now it might be okay and you have the space to keep the project just because. That’s good if that’s what you want. I even moved my blanket to our new house 50 miles away, but again small.
An emotional and practical rolled together is wherever you decide to keep it you need to be aware of it so that the emotions don’t ambush you. Also if it’s time to move house and you stumble on it while packing, that could be a set back. So while holding on can be helpful in the moment, don’t let it unnecessarily prolong emotions that don’t need to be. The box I stored the blanket in was the ONLY box like it in the entire house. I also stored on top of the highest cabinet in the bathroom. I moved it out of view of the mirror over the sink even. I still have the box. It has other mementos from that time. We have moved again and it is buried deep in the craft closet. While the sadness of losing him is still there, I have moved forward and can share. Protect yourself now and your future self as well in this process.
Is it the person the project is for or the project itself?
I don’t have a personal example for me, but I have recently watched my teenage daughter go through this. She had a boyfriend in Colorado. They decided to try the long distance thing when we moved to New Mexico. They are both under age and don’t drive. So text, letters and phone calls only. Ok cool. My daughter started a pair of socks for him for Valentine’s day. She is also working on a blanket for his birthday in July. Avoiding the sweater and we all know why. She makes her socks from the toe up. She had just gotten passed the heel on the first sock when they started having issues. As I write this they still haven’t solved anything. During the last 3 months of talking and texting my daughter became close with him and considered him not only her boyfriend but also her best friend. So when he decided not to talk to her any more those socks only brought anger out in her. She put them in time out for a bit and then decided to rip them and remake the yarn into finger-less mitts for her brother.
If the anger is about a person that the project is for then I say put the project in time out until the issue with that person is resolved. If the person is no longer in your life and you still have anger toward the project because of the person, rip the project and stash the materials. It is going to be hard to find happiness in that project again.
If the anger is the project, then ask why? Go back to the questions in the “Not My Thing” section above and start there.
I hope this has helped you class your projects by emotions. Next up is the practical part.
What to do With the Keepers
Now that the materials form the frogged projects have been stashed what do you do with the keepers? Don’t put them away just yet.
I have started something new that has been very helpful for me recently and I can see my future self saying “thank you” already.
I have a project sheet in each project. It is similar to the info found on Ravlery, for those familiar. Electronic is great, until it is isn’t available for whatever reason. I can also see these details at a glance and without having to pull my phone out and open whatever app. I use the same project name on Ravelry, my app and on this piece of paper.
To encourage you to fill in a sheet for each project and put it with it I have made it a freebie for those who subscribe to my newsletter and email me to ask for it. This way it is always available, even after I change the free gift.
Sign up for my newsletter here. Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that if you ventured down the path of going through your projects it was helpful and that you feel better on the other side.
Until next time,