If you are like me, you look through your WIPs (Works in Progress) every so often and realize that you have projects that need finishing, but (for some reason) you have set them to the side for a time. Either you lost interest, the project lost it's charm, or maybe even another project came up that had a higher importance.
A few weeks ago, I came across a pair of socks that I had on the needles and for some reason I had set them aside. They had been in limbo for almost 3 years. Yes, you read that right. Three stupid years. One sock was completely finished, and the second sock only needed to have the cuff done. When I sat down to complete the pair, it only took two hours to finish them. All that time they had sat in hiatus and I just needed to finish the cuff and weave in a few stray ends. I felt silly that I had let them go for so long. It made me look more closely at my WIPs and I realized that a system is needed to get things moving again.
So how to awaken hibernating projects?
1. Determine the sleepers and discard dead projects
Seems like a no brainer, but sometimes you have to sit down and decide what is sleeping versus what is dead. I go through my (storage) bins and pull out all the projects - ONE AT A TIME. I look at the project and ask myself a couple of questions. Is this something that I want to finish? Is it more than 50% complete? If the answer is yes to either question, I set the project aside for the next step. If I answer no to either of these questions, I determine if the yarn is worth salvaging. If it is nice yarn (and not mohair), I will usually frog the project, put the yarn back into my stash and let go of the guilt. If the yarn isn't very nice and is inexpensive, I will take out the needles and toss the whole lot into the rubbish bin. If the yarn is expensive and just doesn't rip out easily, I will remove the needles and cut the project loose, reclaiming the unknit yarn for another project. Sometimes, so much work has been done on a project that I cannot bring myself to frog it, but I know I won't finish it either. I will take that project with me to my knit night, hand it to a friend and ask them to please rip it out for me. (I have one friend who happily rips out WIPs for others).
2. Determine how they became sleepers or Identify the Problem.
Sometimes there is a really good reason that a project was set to the side. I try to figure out why a project became a sleeper because it can help me determine a plan for finishing. If a WIP was pushed aside because of more time sensitive project, sometimes just deciding to work on the project again is enough. If difficulty was the issue, perhaps I have enough experience and can handle the technique more easily now. If the project is a little too mindless (i.e. boring), I can try to figure out a way to liven it up.
3. Create a plan for finishing sleepers
Sometimes finishing a project is as easy as deciding to work on it again (see the socks above). Sometimes there are bigger challenges. If a technique was too difficult, I may grab different yarn and practice with a few online tutorials making swatches until I am comfortable attacking the project again. If a project is boring, I may create a reward system for myself. A sweater project may only be worked on while watching a favorite program or movie. It is a fun way to work on a project and gives a specified amount of time for working. When a project seems too big to finish, I break the work into smaller bites that I can work on. The sleeve of a sweater becomes one 'mini' project. The front panel becomes another 'mini' project. If the WIP is a shawl, I may create a goal of ONE row per day.
What if you have a stack of projects that don't have ends woven in or require blocking?
I don't mind weaving in ends. I don't count a project as complete until I have woven in all the ends. I will bind off, set down the needles and immediately start weaving in the ends. Some people would rather pull out their own teeth than weave in ends or block projects. If you are the latter, you can fix the issue in one of two ways. One way is to pay someone to weave in your ends or block your projects. Yup, you can do that. There is someone out there at a knit shop or in your knit group that (for a price) will happily weave in ends or block items. Another way is to set a time and date aside for the dreaded task. Sunday can become your 'weave in ends' day. Friday night can be 'block it' Friday. Or make a party of it. Get your knitting friends together for a 'End it All' party. Friends bring their projects and everyone works together to get things done. Blocking is so much easier with friends to help. Weaving in ends isn't so bad when you are chatting up your buddies too.
What if I can't find the needles or the pattern that goes with a project?
I usually count that as a 'ghost' and give up. I will frog the yarn and count the whole thing as a lesson learned. If I am seriously determined to finish the WIP, I may look on Ravelry and see if I recorded the pertinent information there. I have been known to buy a pattern again to finish a project.
This is a tough one. If I can't figure out where I am on a project, I will usually rip out a couple of rows until I determine where I was on the project. If that doesn't work, I may have to rip out the ENTIRE project. Yes, I have done this. As a result, I treat myself like an idiot when I put a project down. I will make notes like, 'Just finished row one and am beginning row two on the back panel'. If I write 'Row 1, Back panel' I don't know if I finished row one or if I need to start on row one. Writing 'Finished knit section on row 18, begin by knitting the rib section on row 19 with K2' may seem like overkill, but I don't have to frog projects anymore due to lack of knowing where I am. Lifelines are also a preventive measure here, but you must NOTATE where the lifeline was placed on the pattern.
There are times that a WIP must be given up. I have picked up old projects and realized that my gauge had changed so dramatically that I had to restart the entire project. When this happens, I have to decide if I really want the project at all. I may decide that the time has come to let go of the entire idea, reclaim the yarn and move on.
This is not a complete list of how to recover UFOs. Everyone has their own way of dealing with project issues. Please share your ways with me in the comments.
I think knitting is a relaxing pastime. Sometimes I have to work to keep it that way. A little effort can help keep it enjoyable and fun. .