Sorting Through the UFOs

After last week's post, many of you sent in the most amazing, supportive, you're-not-alone emails and comments…thank you. Beyond the compliments (blush), I found much wisdom there in your words, much strength, much companionship as I embark on this new part of my life. Each email, each comment seemed to express something worth pondering about our shared journey as knitters. I found myself wanting to quote first one of you, then another, then another on today's blog…until I realized that I wanted to quote all of you. You are all so inspiring to me.

You are so inspiring, in fact, that I decided to not put things off any longer. This week, I spent some time sorting through my unfinished objects pile, and doing a little reality check on each project.

I discovered that I was really doing a reality check on myself–on my philosophy of knitting, if you will. As I handled each project–some begun recently, one or two begun decades ago (ouch!)–I found that I was asking myself: Why did I want to knit this in the first place? Is it still important to me to finish it? Why? What do I need to change about my knitting habits now to make it possible for me to finish this? If I don't want to finish it–what do I do with it? If it's unfinished, but too pretty or too precious in some way to rip out, can I transform the piece into something I can finish–or even something I want to finish? Do I have the courage to make that first tug on the yarn, to hear those made-long-ago stitches start to come unraveled?

When all was said and done, I had questioned my way through 27 projects in one stage of creation or another…yessiree. 27 projects in my knitting bin. Now, to be fair, 6 of those are only "projects" in my imagination–those 6 are "in the queue," so to speak: planned or dreamed of but not yet started in any way.

So that leaves 21 projects actually started, and thus 21 decisions. Hoo boy.

3 of those 21 are easy decisions: The Star Light, Star Bright Baby Blanket for my niece Delaney, which is two-thirds finished; the black Bolero from Feminine Knits, which I'm determined to complete, and a sock that I use as my car or waiting-in-line knitting. So those 3 projects all are truly "on the needles" and have regular progress being made on them.

That leaves 18 UFO's: Projects I have started, but wich are stalled for some reason; projects that have been sitting neglected for weeks, months or even (gulp) years.

Eighteen unfinished projects…that's a lot of knitting left undone. What ARE these orphans hanging around my knitting closet?

Ten–more than half–of the stalled projects were intended as gifts: a shawl for my mother, a hoodie for my sister, socks for a dear friend, a cabled hat here, a fancy bag there. These projects seem not much different than anything else on my needles, so why do they languish in my knitting closet and the others grow to completion? I take a closer look and realize what these projects share in common: None of them are simple, or easy, or even quick "one skein" stashbusters. Each gift is as unique, as special as the person it is intended for. I've chosen each gift project as though it were the only knitting project in my queue, as though I really could and would devote my entire knitting life to that one special thing, in honor of that one special person's place in my heart.

The reality is, of course, that I can't devote either my heart, or my knitting time, in that way. My knitting projects have to timeshare, since I knit for work as well as for pleasure. But that reality, the reality of my limited time, goes right out the window when I choose to knit a gift for someone…and so my own lack of resources, my own inability to be SuperKnitter, is the source of more than half of the stalled projects.

However, the truth is that not finishing the gifts is equivalent to not giving my loved ones anything at all. So, I reluctantly face reality and consign four of the ten gifts to the frog pond. As for the other six, I'm relocating them to the shelf near my knitting chair, so that I can rotate projects more easily over the course of my week. (I'm also considering making a schedule of sorts, a la the Yarn Harlot and others: Spin on Tuesdays, work on UFOs on Fridays, that sort of thing. We shall see.)

Now, I admit that this is as far as my philosophizing has gotten me, although I did finish going through the rest of the project pile. To date, a total of 7 out of the 18 UFOs have been tossed into the frog pond. The six gifts are now back on active status; that leaves five more UFOs–all goodies for myself: a ridiculously easy, stunningly lovely, but deadly boring shawl; a challenging pair of stranded colorwork mittens, a couple of easy peasy pairs of socks, and a simple-but-fiddly pair of mitts.

Hm. I wonder if I am having trouble justifying time to knit for myself when I can't even finish gifts for those I love?

And so I ponder the lessons my knitting is teaching me–even the knitting I am not doing is a teacher, it seems.

I'm tired. It's time to go curl up with some knitting in front of the TV with my husband…

I wonder which project I'll reach for, and why.

Knit with joy…

– Sandi

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can email me at or you can leave a comment.

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