Last year I came up with a plan that would allow me to work through more UFOs, whittle down the overflowing scrap baskets in my craft room, and allow me to work, guilt-free, on some new projects. In the past, I always start the new year with grandiose plans to blast through all of my UFOs, and the white-knuckle willpower would only last about six weeks because the textile world is constantly releasing new fabric, yarn, and pattern collections. So, I came up with this project rotation:
And it worked really well for about six months until I discovered a glitch with my system–I never chose fabric from my stash when it came around to make a “new” project, choosing instead to use new fabric from a new collection that excited me. The stash was starting to grow faster than normal, and I had this weird reluctance to cut into any of it because it was dear to me. You don’t buy fabric or yarn with no plan unless you’re really in love, which makes it hard to use said fabric or yarn. But, as a wise homeschooling parent told me about art lessons with my kids, “Art supplies is meant to be consumed, not conserved.” The same is true of fabric and yarn. USE THEM.
Plus, I’ve been noticing a lot of my contemporaries breaking into the pattern market, and they are killin’ it, which made me start wondering if perhaps I should start at least trying to write my own patterns for my use? I know how patterns work by this point in my creative “career,” and the challenge involved excited me as well.
And then we did some charity blocks in quilt guild and it just made me feel good to make those.
So my project rotation schedule needed a few tweaks:
And it’s been working WONDERFULLY. I love the challenge of coming up with my own patterns, and I really love the idea of #everytenthproject being a service project–it’s like paying tithing on my creative abilities, for which I am so grateful to possess.
I kept a spreadsheet detailing my projects for last year, and it really helped me with my stash management and with branching out of my comfort zone:
(It also alerted me to the fact that I tend to only knit with new yarn, which led to the decision to stop stashing yarn completely…because once it goes into the stash, chances are high that I’ll not be interested in using it EVER after that. Interesting.)
It worked extremely well until I started sewing again for Fat Quarter Shop–by the very nature of those projects, they are always “new” fabric projects, which very quickly started eating up the next available “new” slots in my plan. I’ll have to watch out for that this year, and possibly come up with a plan to accommodate those projects–the turnaround time on them is tight, so it’s not possible to actually have a “plan” to include those projects into my schedule. I might leave them out of the “rotation” altogether, actually, and just enjoy the ride when I’m asked to ride along…because, duh.
Oh, another important note: Babies and weddings don’t have to follow the schedule because they are also impossible to plan around. I just plug them into the spreadsheet where they belong and then work around them as necessary because I LOVE BABIES AND WEDDINGS. I’m a gift-crafter at my core.
What I find, though, is that this schedule greatly reduces the chances of acquiring more UFOs. I’m horrendously distracted by the new-and-shiny, but when I’d start thinking about cutting for or casting on a new project, I’d consult my spreadsheet and see if it could fit into the next category up for grabs. If it didn’t, I’d tentatively schedule it; but more often than not, when I came up to its turn in the rotation, my excitement for the new pattern would have waned and I could move on to something that had been on my bucket list and would truly bring me pleasure. I started 2017 with thirty-eight UFOs, finished (or donated or frogged) nine UFOs, and am taking in two new UFOs–that means I now have thirty-one UFOs, which is totally an improvement! I have never ended a year with less UFOs than I had at the beginning of it. Feels good.
And now it’s onwards to a productive 2018! Happy New Year, and may you find a little time each day to move forward on your projects.
And if you’re looking for an idea for a service project, maybe you want to consider joining Fat Quarter Shop’s Clementine Quilt Along? I’ve committed to it, and it would be lots of fun to have some more friends quilting along, too!
You can find more information about the Quilt Along by clicking here to visit the Fat Quarter Shop Blog. Proceeds from this quilt along will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.