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T O P I C    R E V I E W
BessH Posted - 09/18/2007 : 04:27:15 AM
Been giving a lot of thought to why I stall on a knitting project, in the vain belief/hope that if I understand the root cause I shan't do it so often. All part of my great spiritual quest for a life of perfection, of course, but also prompted by my latest Almost-UFO. It is a sock that I designed for a simply beautiful yarn: One of bluestocking's Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarns in the most stunning combination of greys, with just a hint of accent colors, I've ever seen. The yarn is inviting and springy and tempting and fun to knit with. Socks are neither brain-surgery-difficult nor Mt.-Everest-ly huge. They ought to be pretty easy to finish, right?

But I was stalled. I was stalled because I wasn't quite sure there was enough yarn to knit 2 men's socks in that particular stitch pattern. (There is, but only just barely) And the moment I began to worry about the project Not Working – well, I stopped knitting on it. Imagine – here is a sock only 3 inches from completion and I put it down. I don't want to look at it. I want to Start Something New!!! I betray my old love for the glamorous promise that This Time it will be Perfect. This new project will respect me in the morning. This will be the Perfect Knitting Project.

Every UFO in my stash is something that has a problem with it. Something that might not fit or has batwing shoulders or makes me look like a linebacker for a pro ball team – but without the high salary. Now, I know how many inches around and how many inches up and down I am, even if I am dissatisfied with those numbers. That's no reason to cast on a project that won't fit. I've been dressing myself for 40 years, so I know what looks good on me and ... what does not (drop shoulder sweaters!) Since I tend to design all my own projects, you'd think I would just design something that fit and looked good – but alas. I don't. Sometimes I'm tempted by an idea that's wrong for me, but more often it's a question of skill. And of course, once a project is in the Dread-Stash-Of-UFOs well – it's likely to live there for a long time.

(DSOUFO - Sounds like an African word for disaster to me)

I suppose I could shrink the number of disasters by knitting something that a real designer had already calculated, figured and problem-solved. I'm certainly inspired by other people's beautiful designs. I never minded sewing from patterns, back in the days when I made my own clothes. But I started sewing when I was so young that I didn't mind any less-than-perfect items. Quantity was what I was after then, which is probably a good reason to start knitting when one is young. I'm a little more discerning now.

I think, though, that since I am well past the half century mark, I'd best just accept certain personality quirks and acknowledge that:

1.I will always be more tempted to “cook up” something than to follow a recipe. (I do this in the kitchen as well)
2.I don't get bored with projects. I get scared of them.
3.It's the technical mistakes that stop me – so I ought to get more technical expertise (take more classes? knit more swatches?)
4.Too often the problem is the fear of Not Enough Yarn. I need to estimate higher - or even higher - when I shop
5.I ought to lighten up a little about my expectations. To quote the coffee mug a friend gave me, “Sometimes Finished is better than Perfect.”

And now you see why I have a blog – because I just can't stop talking - where there are photos (not all that great but better ones will be up tomorrow) of the Almost-UFO sock. And here's a link to the wonderful Spirit Trail Fiberworks website, where that sock pattern will soon be for sale.

20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Mickey Posted - 09/26/2007 : 6:51:34 PM
Just be the best you that you can be

Yep, if we really are being the best we can be and don't just use this as an excuse for slacking.
when I pick up a project I haven't knitted in a while, I remember where I got the yarn, where I knitted it last, the conversations I had with people about it.

I like that!!

Always good to look deep inside, doncha think?

Sure, if we act on the thus found insights. Otherwise, it's just pointless ruminating that doesn't really get us anywhere. Posted - 09/26/2007 : 10:16:45 AM
Hi all,
Just thought I would add my 2 cents. Your topic intrigued me because I, too, am not a finisher. It used to drive me crazy! The guilt that I would feel each and every time I put something down just rows from completion, only to immediately start something new! Crushing! I think it was the Catholic upbringing. However, I have since adopted a beautiful baby boy - and life will never be the same. Not that I am suggesting adoption as a cure for your problem, but our new son has forever changed my perspective on life. I knit because I enjoy it! If I finish, I finish. If I play for hours on the floor with Jackson, rather than do a 2nd load of laundry....WHATEVER!!! If the rest of the household is so desperate for clean socks, I am not standing in the way of them and the washing machine. Time is finite. I now conciously choose to enjoy and savor whatever I happen to be doing in that moment. Whether it's finishing a sock, or dancing to the theme song of Handy Manny. Life is short, so why ask why? Just be the best you that you can be and enjoy life as it comes.
This is my new philosophy. It drives my Mother bonkers. I, of course, consider this a happy perk. :)

Happy knitting,
bearknitter Posted - 09/21/2007 : 10:09:17 AM
Incorporating the internet into my knitting completely changed my knitting. I have always knitted one project at a time. Yes, I have two sweaters from years ago which are not finished, and I guess I will frog one and finish the other at some point, but I never had more than one active project going at one time. Then I started reading what other knitters had written and found out one could have several projects going at one time! How liberating for me. Yes, there are at least six projects on needles in various stages of progress, but I'm delighted. Some projects haven't been touched for a couple of months, but its just because I'm so busy.

I used to design all my own patterns. If I used someone else's, I'd modify the heck out of it so it would be mine. I wasn't always very happy with fit so a few years ago, I decided to start buying knitting books (mostly because they started to be more available to me), going to classes (our guild had a Sally Mellville retreat and the local yarn shop had Lily Chin for two classes), reading what I could on the internet, and knitting other's patterns for a while. I've learned some very interesting skills and techniques I wouldn't have if I had stayed with my own ideas. Oh, yes, I plan to get back to designing, but I'll have a bigger bag of tricks to draw from then.

I knit because I love it. I live with chronic physical pain, and knitting gets me out of it. I'd be very unhappy if I let all those potential projects get to me. I knit out in public so when I pick up a project I haven't knitted in a while, I remember where I got the yarn, where I knitted it last, the conversations I had with people about it.

I don't know if this is helpful to you. I read recently "We will end up where we are headed if we don't change where we are going." If this seems to apply to you, try different things which make sense to change your direction in knitting. It works with life, too.
knottyknitter Posted - 09/20/2007 : 7:30:38 PM

Like others have said, it's as if you took the words out of my mouth! As Fran says, you sound like a process knitter. I recognized a while back that I am DEFINITELY a process knitter. I think that's why I have really taken to spinning - it's so much more about process than about a finished object. Even when you finish spinning, you have yarn - which, when you really think about it, is actually a UFO in the making:)

BTW, I'm a Capricorn. Does this suit us too? Yes, I think it does. I have many friends who are Capricorns as well, and we're great starters, but not great finishers. We love to multitask, and are pretty good at that. We suffer from having FAR too many interests and are constantly jumping from one to the other.
My blog at Kitty's Knitterbox
BessH Posted - 09/20/2007 : 6:18:25 PM
Well, actually, the topic isn't really stash building. It's Stopitis - Its figuring out what it is that halts you in your tracks when you are somewhere closer to finishing a project than beginning it. I took care of my excess stash building with an interesting project in 2006 - Wrote about it here and at much more length on my January 2006 blog posts.

Excess stash is the result of Stopitis and it's twin Startitis.

But don't worry - I am really pretty comfortable with who I am, my approach to knitting and all my little quirks and foibles. I don't feel very much guilt or anxiety. I was just wanting to pinpoint what makes me stop perfectly completable projects when I'm very close to the end, figuring that if I can identify a problem, define it clearly, I can solve it.

The happy benefit of all that musing was to expose - and listen to - a yearning that I hadn't been listening to – to expand my technical skills.

Always good to look deep inside, doncha think?

monnibo Posted - 09/20/2007 : 5:14:58 PM
My hoarding doesn't stop at yarn - I'm going to be as bad as your Grandmother, Gelsomina, if I keep going at this pace! I just boxed up all my notes and textbooks from this past year of college... and put them away neatly in the garage. (I'm an organized pack-rat). When my mom saw MORE boxes in the garage, she told me I reeeeally need to throw some stuff away.

But on the topic of yarn hoarding - You know those plastic zipper packages that pillows and duvet covers and other linens come in? I have 3 huge bags filled with yarn, fibre fill, and needles. And I have 3 large tote bags with UFOs. I'm DEFINITELY a process knitter, but trying to use my blog to be more of a product knitter.

- Monica

my blog:
crafty creations:

knittingrunner Posted - 09/20/2007 : 1:54:42 PM
Cheers from another Gemini, 'process' knitter.

Thank goodness socks require so much less yarn and commitment than sweaters or, heaven forbid, anything bigger than a baby blanket!

Maybe felting or household objects are the answer for BessH??

Runner who knits: knitter who runs
kellistarr Posted - 09/20/2007 : 1:40:05 PM
Accept certain personality quirks. I'm not sure if that is a direct quote from you, but I do believe there is your answer. Accept being scared that there might not be enough yarn (and whatever else it is that is bothering you) and proceed with your knitting. If you run out of yarn, you'll deal with that when you come to it. Maybe you adore starting projects. Some people adore buying yarn more than knitting with it. I think that you need to remove some of the stress out of your knitting, put the fun back in by just going with it.
Originally posted by Queen Knitsalot

Dahling.......are you sure you don't have a really really bad case of STARTITIS?


I'm not crazy.....I'm colourful. Sounds better on a resume.

VickiSayre Posted - 09/20/2007 : 11:41:48 AM
Mary Beth Temple has a great "word" for what you all are describing in her book The Secret Language of Knitters. It makes it sound like such a beautiful place.

FROG POND - the place where unloved UFOs and WIPs go to await their froggy fate.

Vicki in Chicago
Loopy Yarns Posted - 09/20/2007 : 10:15:52 AM
My--it was bad enought to think she sounds like me, but then the Virgo thing too!.....Maybe we should have a big trade of UFOs--release the guilt and set them free! No one has mentioned the financial end of things here, and for me that is a major issue. This fall when I was attacked by falling yarn one time to many, I organized. Many items had price tags on them, and the money I have those buyer loyalty programs that make it CLEAR how much I have spent....OUCH! So I am on a finish it program--sort of for the Jewish New Year, tho I am not--my friends are, and always talk about the need for improvement at this time of year. So I am finishing things--and often by elimating other distracting projects--I take ONLY the half finished projects in the car, and they are getting completed. Once there is more room in the closet, I'll have money saved (think of all those gifts that I won't have to buy!) and then I can buy more yarn.....Ann
Gelsomina Posted - 09/20/2007 : 09:32:47 AM
Mindy, you're enabling my UFO abductions and grandmotherly hoarding instinct. [:00]

If I wouldn't wear it, I don't want give it to anyone else to wear. I thought about a wrap, but it would be too similar to one I already have. Not suitable for rugged use things like slippers, mitts. It's getting all nappy from re-knitting anyway.

:-) Gelsomina
MindyO Posted - 09/20/2007 : 09:19:18 AM
ACH!!! Throw away yarn?!?! I might cry.... why not make a really huge scarf and call it a wrap? It will still be of sweatery warming quality, but not a sweater! And if there's enough make matching mittens, scarf, slippers, etc. until you run out! You obviously like the yarn to have purchased 15 skeins and attempt to knit it 5 times. I'm a quiter I would have given up at try #2 or 3. If you're not into shawls and wrap gift them to an old folks home, old people are always cold! (No offense to any old, cold people)
Gelsomina Posted - 09/20/2007 : 09:11:34 AM
I had an "aha" moment on this very subject last night.

Here's my UFO stream of consciousness...

I've re-used this yarn for the FOURTH time (I'm knitting sweater number 5), and started to experience a UFO close encounter. It's making me fidgety and want to work on something else, anything but this sweater that I'd been diligently attacking.

I'm agitated, fumbling around the house in frustration, go to clean up and prep for a new jewelry project.

Afterwards, still agitated, with the UFO hanging over my head, I plop down and face it: I think it's once again, not something I really want to wear. Not flattering, not exciting, just there.

This is where it gets mentally painful: this UFO needs to go. Again. Face it, I'll never wear it. This is the FIFTH attempt, all were at least 90% completed, "Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind". Horrible sequel.

For me, UFO's mean I don't really like what I'm almost done creating, so it's easier to leave it as a UFO than face the pain of wasted time, frogging, design failure, self-doubt about my abilities, bad yarn.

After realilzing this, it makes it easier. Now the choice comes down to: frogging or trash bin. Either way, that UFO is departing my universe TONIGHT.

If I frog, then this yarn can never again be a sweater. I did make a lovely little cloche hat from a bit of it. Maybe a matching scarf? What about the other 13 balls?

I think I can justify trash bin: I've knit this yarn 5 times.

Now I feel like my grandmother, who saves everything, whose basement is full of things like wooden cases of full bottles of Coca-Cola from the 1950's. Like grandma, I couldn't possible throw that yarn away!

BASTA, GELSOMINA, BASTA! Use 2 balls to make a scarf and throw the other 13 away. It's not you, it's the yarn that's a failure.

... End of UFO stream of consciousness.

:-) Gelsomina
MindyO Posted - 09/20/2007 : 09:04:13 AM
I totally understand! I HATE putting things together and hiding threads. I've adjusted every pattern as much as possible to avoid seams, hiding threads as I knit, and picking up stitches rather than knitting separate pieces. I also agree with the whole needing to pay attention and look at things, the knitting part is pretty mindless, unless of course it's a complex pattern, but the finishing requires me to not watch tv and pay attention to what I'm doing. And sometimes even think! I think my fear obviously comes from whether not the recipient will like what I made, but more from the fact that once it's finished, not only is it a little harder to rip out a finished piece than pieces, but it's kind of sad at the same time, like when the puppy you've been watching for a week has to go home. There's a little relief, but a little sadness because soemthing you spent so much time with is no longer a part of your daily life. Maybe that's just me.
fmarrs Posted - 09/20/2007 : 08:48:38 AM

There are two types of knitters, a process knitter and a product knitter. A product knitter knits in order to get a beautiful sweater. They love wearing it and owning it and even giving it away.

You, however, are a process knitter. You love the process of knitting, the choosing the yarn, the designing the sweater, the figuring out of patterns. There is a point in every design when everything is figured out and all that is left is to knit, knit, knit. A process knitter then becomes bored, becomes hypercritical, (It won't fit anyway) finds flaws and drops the project in order to begin again with a new process and a new project.

I know this because I am also a process knitter. That is what forced me to develop my 10 minute rule, or I would never finish anything. Choose a project that you want finished. Now the rule is that you must work on that project for 10 minutes before you can do anything else that is knitting related. You can knit longer than 10 minutes if you wish but it doesn't hold over, you have a new 10 minute obligation tomorrow. Figure it out, that's 70 minutes a week, 280 minutes a month, 3360 minutes or 56 hours a year. Everything will eventually get finished. Even if you go shopping, you can't look at your purchases until after your ten minutes of knitting.

Now the projects that have problems can be handled several ways. If you don't want them, frog them and reuse the yarn. Don't let them lay around or you will have to knit them 10 minutes a day. If you want them, carefully phrase a question about the problem and post it here on KR and you will get a lot of suggestions to handle the problem.

As to your sweaters that don't fit, the problem is usually gauge or ease. Try to define it. Sewing ability only helps if you are good at fitting and that is ease, ease, ease.

bi-crafty Posted - 09/20/2007 : 08:39:58 AM
Bess, my mouth dropped open as I read your post; like several others here, I too could have written it just about verbatim. I have a relatedy theory on why I just don't finish: it's not so much the fear of mistakes, technical hangups, or boredom, but rather the saying goodbye. I know this sounds nuts, but that sometimes ornery object hanging from my sticks becomes my comfort, my friend, my refuge. Yes, I always have something else in the works, and before I get halfway thru a project I'm already itching for new yarn, new project, new... friend. I'm working on my first original design of a cardigan, and as I near completion I find myself at odds with myself: I start to work diligently to get those sleeves done, and then just stop -- pull out all the parts: back, left & right front, match them up, check the sleeve length: and in my head I hear "wow! only have this much to go! I'm almost done! oh, i'm almost....done." Even as I write this I hear that little voice in my head, and feel the little twist in my stomach, the one I would get saying good bye to a friend, watching my son head off to school, college, work.... It's a kind of loneliness that sets in with the knowledge that I'm about to part company with this manifestation of my thoughts, meditations, dreams. Jeez, I'm scaring myself!

Maria D
When in doubt, rip it out. Posted - 09/20/2007 : 08:17:07 AM
I'm a Virgo. I love to knit, but hate to put projects together. I used to pay people to finish sweaters for me. I think I fear if I don't do a good job of putting a sweater together, all the nice knitting was for nothing. Putting sweaters together is the only area in my life where I procrastinate. I recently had five in my "holding area". I can knit and talk or watch TV, but putting sweaters together takes eyes and concentration, something I must not be willing to do. I absolutely hate the job as much as I love knitting. I'm starting to look for whole-sweater knitting patterns.
RoxieKatz Posted - 09/20/2007 : 07:31:39 AM
Everyone repeat after me: The words "knitting" and "worry" should not be in the same sentence. We learned this skill to retreat from our pile of worries; not add to it. I get stuck sometimes on things -- ironically, not my knitting -- and sometimes I have to redirect my thought process to think of resuming the project as "starting" a different phase of the process. How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. Or, you can treat it like it isn't a UFO at all, but some new project you encounted at whatever stage it's in.

Here is a suggestion. Pick up only one project. Ignore the others. Take that project somewhere you don't usually knit. Out in the park. To a friend's house. Even relegate it to be your travel project and leave it in the car. Knit in its new place, away from all the worry triggers like the other UFOs, piles of patterns, stashes, etc. Dedicate your time to that one project but only when you and it are together in its special place. Have an affair with it. Cheat on your other projects with it. Sneak off and fool around with it. Lie to it and tell it it's beautiful. It's a new relationship between you and it. It's a new start. And if you two break up again, there's always another one in that UFO pile... Posted - 09/20/2007 : 07:29:15 AM
I have many projects in my yarn closet that are partially complete and even more that are finished except for sewing together pieces. I think I am afraid of the finished product?
queenofegypt Posted - 09/20/2007 : 06:26:37 AM
Im a gemini not a virgo, but have the exact same 'problem'. I guess that makes us 'process knitters' because we seem to enjoy the journey more than the goal. Of course, I WANT that finished item. I yearn to wear it. I have about 20 UFO at this time. I try to stave off starting a new item until at least ONE of them is finished, but it hasnt worked very well.

However, I have come to view knitting as ART. So I try not to punish my creativity, just view it as extending my talents? Something like that. You can always come back to a UFO. If you really liked it enuf to get that far, you will probably finish it. However, I have so much stash there is no way I will ever get thru it.
I wouldnt punish yourself for things not being technically perfect. If being technically perfect truly meant that much to you, you would sweat it out. But if you don't sweat it up front, dont punish yourself at the end. Sounds like you are afraid of others being critical. ANd hey, next time that person knits their own item, then maybe just maybe they could be critical. Or not, its my sweater, not theirs. I have my own vision, like any artist.

The queen has spoken!

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