Let’s face it – we all get carried away. When browsing Pinterest or looking through knitting books and magazines we get inspired, and it is great. We start a new project and feel excited about it ... for a day or two ... a week at most. Then we see something else and start another project, and feel excited again ... for a day or two ...
This cycle repeats until there is no room for another zip lock bag with an unfinished project in your knitting basket / drawer / shelf / room. That’s when we start feeling unhappy and overwhelmed.
I really hope you are not familiar with this sequence of events and the phenomenon of UFOs. No, the UFOs I mean have nothing to do with extraterrestrial creatures. UFOs are your UnFinished Objects, and yes, sometimes they do look like aliens, especially if you started that project quite some time ago, and are now trying to understand “what is it, and what was I thinking starting something like that?”
From what I’ve heard from other knitters, most of us have a close relationship with UFOs. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who managed to finish all knitting projects they started. I am sure those people exist, but there are rare creatures like unicorns.
That doesn’t mean though that there is no way to avoid UFOs or at least to minimize the amount of them.
If we think about what exactly happens at the moment when we make an impulsive decision to cast on, we will notice that many reasons that lead to that decision can be avoided.
REASON: “I love that hat / sweater / shawl because it will be so interesting / challenging to make and I’ll learn a new stitch or technique."
SOLUTION: Make a swatch trying out the stitch or technique used in this project. It will take just a couple of hours and you’ll get great learning experience and will improve your knitting skills. Besides, if the stitch turns out to be less beautiful than you expected, or the technique too challenging to your liking, you still learn something but don’t get stuck with a project you will probably never finish.
REASON: “This garment looks gorgeous in this photo. I also want to look gorgeous, so I’ll make this hat / sweater / shawl.”
SOLUTION: Close your eyes. Try to visualize “the real you” in the garment you see in the photo. Now think of how this new garment will match your style, your complexion, and the clothes you already have in your wardrobe. Finally, imagine yourself wearing this garment in your everyday life. In most cases, you will understand that it’s not something you will wear, and that’s why chances are you won’t finish this project (lack of motivation).
REASON: “This project is perfect for the yarn I have in my stash, so I’ll make it to use up the yarn”.
SOLUTION: Your time is the most valuable thing you have. Don’t waste it on a project just to get rid of some yarn. There’s no joy in that. You will feel much better donating this yarn to a local school, so kids could use it for crafting, or maybe even volunteering to teach kids how to knit with that yarn in your local school. That would be a much better use of your time, and you will enjoy it so much more.
When a project stands the test of all of the above reasons, you know that you want to make that hat / sweater / shawl
- because it will be an interesting project to knit,
- because you know the style will flatter you, and you plan wear this garment quite often, and
- because you will make it with the yarn you like in your favourite colour.
Even then there is one more thing to consider – your time. We often tend to overestimate our knitting time and knitting speed. We think “I’ll be knitting faster, and I’ll finish this sweater in a couple of weeks”.
Speaking of the “knitting faster” part, let’s think why we knit. If knitting is your hobby, perhaps you knit to relax after a long working day. Do you really need the stress of “knitting faster” in your life? Probably not.
As to the “finishing a sweater in a couple of weeks”, or “a baby blanket in a week (it’s so small, right?)”, yes, you can do that ... if you knit all day every day of the week. Unfortunately, such a scenario doesn’t happen often in real life, no matter how much we dream about it.
That leaves us with the only viable option – be realistic when you plan your knits.
Choose your projects wisely and know how long it will take you to finish this project. I can’t choose projects for you (because I’m too busy choosing my own projects :-)), but I can help you estimate the time needed to finish most of your projects.
I made a number of calculations to estimate the knitting time for 6 most common knit projects (hat, scarf, mittens, socks, blanket and sweater) in different sizes made with 3 different types of yarn (DK, worsted and chunky weight yarn). All calculations are based on the assumption that you will knit 10 rows a day (or 10 rounds a day if you are making mittens or socks).
It takes 3 to 5 minutes to knit one row, so if you dedicate 30 to 50 minutes a day to your knitting, you will be able to finish your project within the timeline estimated in this table.
For example, if you want to make a baby blanket with chunky yarn, you will need to reserve your knitting time for 17 days for this blanket alone. It seems like a lot of time, but that is a realistic estimate.
Even with such a conservative estimation, if you knit baby blankets all year, you will make 21 blankets in a single year! How is that for being efficient?
All it takes is to knit 10 rows a day.
P.S. No time to read the whole article? That's ok. Download this cheat sheet I made for you. It shows how long it will take to knit 6 most common projects in different sizes using 3 different weights of yarn. I hope this calculator will help you better plan your knitting time to avoid stress and overwhelm. Enjoy :-)