Some Thoughts on UFOs
Lauren, one of the most productive, talented, and inspirational seamstresses you’ll find in the blogosphere, recently shared her suggestions for getting the most out of the limited time we have to sew. She made some excellent points all around, but the one that really hit me was this one:
#2: UFOs Don’t Exist in My World
…Starting up a project takes precious time – from determining your chosen pattern and fabric, to cutting and marking the pieces, to all the boring pre-work like staystitching and fusing interfacing… and we haven’t even gotten to the actual construction! What is the point of wallowing through all that, just to set it aside and start the process over again?
If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know that I have a little problem with UFOs. Enough of a problem that I instated UFO Mondays back in 2011 in an effort to clear out some old projects. Between lugging all of my crafting projects and supplies across town to my new apartment and reading Lauren’s post, I’ve had my UFOs, both knitting and sewing, on the mind lately.
I have a truly embarrassing number of knitting UFOs, and I mostly blame my five years working and teaching at the LYS for them. When your work days are full of new yarns, patterns, and other people’s projects, it’s easy to get distracted by them. Add to that deadlines for class samples that interrupt your regularly queued knitting, and you’ve got a recipe for a big ol’ pile of UFOs. The good news, considering my limited income as a graduate student, is that I’ve got enough projects around to keep me knitting for a while.
While my knitting UFO pile is largely the result of distraction by new, shiny projects, my sewing UFOs have more varied histories. Sure, I might put down a sewing project for something I’m more excited about at the moment. But I also might set it down because I need something new to wear to a special event. Or, and this is perhaps the most common issue for me, I might get frustrated with or stuck on my current project but still want to sew, so I set it aside for something more manageable. This is where I really need to listen to Lauren:
It’s one thing to set something aside if it’s frustrating you, but you shouldn’t make a habit of picking up a new project and starting over, because it can quickly get out of control. I made peace with myself a long time ago and decided to eliminate the UFOs in my sewing room and finish every.single.project, even if it killed me. Sometimes it does make me want to destroy things – but I soldier on and finish that fucking garment. Occasionally, it actually speeds me up because I’m so desperate to finish and move on to the next shiny object….[but] I don’t have those half-sewn pieces creeping around my sewing room (is it just me, or do they nag at you and make you feel all stressed and sad? Say it’s not just me!), and I have a finished object to show for it! Yay!
My UFOs really do creep around and stress me out, and I would be much happier with these projects taking up space in my closet instead of my sewing room. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the process–I wouldn’t craft if I didn’t love it–but a UFO pile isn’t so much part of the process as it is a problem.
I’ve said before that it’s just not practical for me to make a rule that I won’t start anything new until I finish all of my UFOs: I won’t stick to it, and then that’ll be one more thing to feel bad about. It’s also not practical for me to be a monogamous crafter: especially with my knitting, I like to have at least one more complicated project for dedicated knitting time and one simpler project that can travel with me.
What I can do, though, is stick it out with the projects that I have going. I’ve been pretty loyal to three projects–two knitting, one sewing–for the last week, and that seems like a good number for me right now. Since I haven’t been jumping between a bunch of different projects, they’re all actually pretty close to completion, so it feels even more worthwhile to see them through to the end. When I finish one of them, I’ll replace it with something else–maybe an abandoned project, maybe something new–and slowly but surely, those UFO piles will be tamed.