Why are unfinished projects bad for us?
First of all, they make us guilty. Every time we look at a half knit sock or an almost finished sweater we feel sorry for those abandoned creations. That’s why many of us tuck the unfinished project deep inside boxes and baskets with yarn and other craft supplies.
Secondly, they make us lose faith in our skills. With every unfinished project added to our stash, we might start thinking that we are not good enough at knitting because a good knitter would finish that scarf or hat in no time.
And of course, those unfinished projects tie up lots of needles and stitch markers, that we often need for other projects. Instead of using the supplies we already have, we usually buy extra sets of needles in the sizes that are imprisoned by UFO’s.
As you see, aside from being a general disappointment and nuisance, unfinished projects also cost us money. Not good at all!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With just a bit of planning and common sense, it is possible to live with one or two projects on the needles. Before that happens, it is imperative to deal with the unfinished projects we already have. Let’s see HOW we can do that.
I usually use the same system that helps me get rid of excess clothing, never-to-be-read books and other clutter that over time inevitably accumulates in my home.
First, let’s face the enemy. Take all of your unfinished projects out of the nooks and niches they’ve been tucked in. Be brave and find ALL of them.
Put them in a pile on the floor, on a bed or a table. It is essential to have enough space and preferably no one at home to “oh, my God” you.
Now take the projects that you’d like to finish and put them in a separate pile (let’s call it a “like” pile). Think of the type of the project, whether you or anyone else is ever going to wear it, whether it is not too complicated for you.
Be creative. Some projects can be easily adjusted for other uses. For example, you can bind off stitches of a quarter of a blanket and make it a scarf. Or you can bind off half-finished mittens and turn them into fingerless mitts.
Make sure that for each project you put into the “like” pile you have a pattern, or some instructions, or at least an idea that will make it possible for you to finish this project.
Unravel all projects that didn’t make it to the “like” pile. I know it hurts. I know you might think “I spent so much time working on this project for nothing”.
Well, look at this unhappy exercise this way – the time you spent knitting, brought you joy and peace, even though the project itself didn’t get finished. Besides, you probably learned something from this project – a new stitch or technique that improved your knitting skills. Look at each project as a part of a learning curve.
When unravelling, don’t make balls of yarn. Not yet. Find a big book (about the size of the paper you use in your printer) with hardcover, and wrap the yarn around this book.
When you finish unravelling one project, tie the wraps with a small piece of yarn. Then slide the yarn off the book and tie this mini hank in two more spots to make sure the yarn doesn’t tangle.
Then unravel another project. And another one, until you have a pile of mini hanks and a pile of needles released from the unfinished projects.
Now let’s take a closer look at the salvaged yarn. Sort it by the fibre content. If you saved yarn labels for each yarn, they will be very helpful. If not, you can tell the fibre content of a yarn by running a simple test. Click here to watch how to do it.
Keep the quality yarns and the yarns you like, and consider throwing away or donating the rest, especially if you have a big stash of yarn (let’s confess, most of us do :-).
Wash the mini hanks that you plan to keep or donate. Washing will even out the yarn and make it softer, so you will be happy to knit with this yarn again.
Before you start washing the yarn, make sure each mini hank is tied in at least three evenly spaced spots. The last thing we need now is to spend hours untangling the yarn.
Then soak the yarn in warm water with a bit of shampoo. If you have a special product intended for washing yarn, use it. Otherwise, the same shampoo you use for your hair will work just fine.
There is no need for rubbing the yarn. Simply let it sit in soapy water for 30 minutes or so. The water will smooth out all wrinkles, and the shampoo will make the yarn softer. All you need to do is to rinse the yarn, squish it gently and put it on a towel to dry.
Once the yarn is dry, put mini hanks (one at a time) on a book that is a bit smaller than the one you used to wind the yarn, and re-wind the yarn from a hank to a ball. Make the balls loose to preserve the softness of the yarn.
That’s it for now. In the second part, we’ll deal with the projects in the “like” pile.
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.
Dealing with Unfinished Projects
Dictionary of Knitting Symbols and Abbreviations – E-Book
Eastern (Russian) Knitting Simplified
Knitting Collection #6
Simple Socks in Any Size with Any Yarn
Top-Down Hat in Any Size with Any Yarn