Those Dreaded UFO's

Those Dreaded UFO's
To the uninitiated, the acronym UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object. For knitters, however, these three letters take on a different, if equally sinister, meaning: UnFinished Object. Almost every member of our community has a few of these lying around. Within my living room, I spy a sport-weight sweater requiring the rest of the second sleeve and some finishing; I also see a bulky weight scarf roughly one-quarter done. Some people do not mind a selection of UFOs lying around the house, but I do: these projects make me feel wasteful and sap my knitting confidence.

Because they give me such a bad reaction, I try to avoid UFOs in the first place. I do this chiefly by not allowing myself to cast on more than three projects at a time. My personal rule is that only one of these projects can be sweater or blanket sized; once either of those are on the needle, any other projects need to be accessory sized. This allows me to start a large project and then take breaks from it when I need something new in my hands. This also means that I take copious notes at the end of each knitting session so that I can easily pick up where I left off, sometimes a month or two later.

Sometimes, however, I find that a project lags for longer than that. My UFO sweater is knit at sport weight with a linen-silk yarn blend. I finished roughly half of the original pattern before realizing that it was way way way too big. I then took two weeks off before taking a deep breath and unraveling the entire mess. When I started back up, I got through most of the sweater before putting it back down again. So it has been roughly ten months of staring at pink Anzula yarn that needs to be finished.

When a project drags on because of problems with fit or because it’s created from fine yarn, there is a simple solution: take fifteen minutes each day to work on the project until its completed. More time is of course better, but if the project, like my sweater, is too unwieldy to be carried around, it is best to simply sit down in the same comfortable place and use the knitting time as a form of meditation. It also helps to set a project goal: I want to wear my Anzula sweater over the holidays, and so I have roughly a month to get finished. It is not bad knitting; rather, it is a case of a project taking longer than expected for good reason.

My UFO scarf is another story. A bulky weight wool knit in bamboo stitch, this project requires a stitch to be passed over two others at very small intervals. For some reason, the maneuver is difficult to execute and does not feel fun to work on. When a UFO is caused by discomfort, or when for some reason the joy has gone out of the piece, there is a choice to be made. Would I prefer to suck it up and finish the scarf, a gift for my niece, or do I want to unravel it and start something different and hopefully more fun? A third choice would be to unravel it and donate the yarn to someone with more appreciation. Since that project is only two months old at present, I have chosen to let it sit while I finish the sweater and other scarf. I might then be ready to make a decision at that time.

Every knitter will have a different response to UnFinished Objects; there is no right or wrong here. Keep these ideas in mind: first, the number of concurrent projects that works best for you, and second, the size of each concurrent project. This will give you parameters that set off alarms when the UFOs begin to pile up. From there, if you can figure out why the project is lagging, you can determine how to finish it, or not as the case may be.



You Should Also Read:
Using Up Leftover Yarn
A Few Good Reasons to Knit Socks

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Content copyright © 2018 by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. for details.