My “New & Improved” Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

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:

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The Original Project Schedule

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:

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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:

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(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.

clementine-qal-e1504126058289And 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.

 

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Finished: The Amethyst Fair Isle Sweater

It’s been finished for a couple of weeks, but it’s also birthday season here in Brooketopia, so I’ve just been too busy for blogging while finishing up birthday presents and the inevitable Valentine’s Day stuff that moms of school-aged kids deal with.

But, yes, the big purple sweater is complete, she loves it, and I thought I’d share some more photos of it outside of Instagram.

I loved sketching out the fair isle designs, my cat got in the way constantly, and the long expanse of purple body knitting was something I really enjoyed–so mindless and soothing.

But the best part, ALWAYS, of knitting fair isle anythings is the actual fair isle knitting.  People, I had a fabulous January, even in spite of a really mean chest cold that I caught from my kids.  Who cares if you’re sick and can barely breathe when you can just weather it out in bed watching Netflix and knitting away on a big, beautiful bunch of colors?!?!  Best bout of sickness EVAH.

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I had the goal of finishing it up before my girl’s birthday at the beginning of February, and I’m pleased to say that it was blocked by her birthday, but still needed its underarm seams and end-weaving, so not completely finished, but definitely finished enough!

I got those last bits out of the way over the next few days, and she was able to wear it to church the following Sunday.

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Yes, I’m monstrously pleased with how it turned out.  I did a little bit of shaping in the waist, and the fit was just so good!  Pre-blocking, the neck was really wonky and caused me a great deal of worry, so I blocked it rather aggressively and the photo shows that it turned out just fine.

I haven’t done a whole lot of knitting in the past few years, so this was a bit of a crazy undertaking, but I’m so glad I went through with it–it’s very beautiful, and I got a bit of a “Heck yeah, I can still do this!” ego boost from it, ha ha.

I don’t really see any knitting in my immediate crafty future, but I’m sure the bug will bite again come autumn and its chilly air.  I heart fair isle knitting so much!

My New Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

I made no resolutions this year because I knew that, by mid-February or so, I’d be looking for justifications to abandon them.  Instead, I decided to stew on the things I would normally make resolutions about, and hope that feasible solutions would present themselves to me.  Lo and behold, whilst scrutinizing my bulging scrap bins and the big ol’ bin o’ UFOs a few days ago, a plan magically unfolded in my mind:

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How freakishly simple is that?!  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I always start out my year with the resolution to finish as many UFOs as possible, but then new patterns, yarns, and fabrics start popping onto my radar, and it’s just such a teeth-clenching battle to not chase after the new bright and shinies.  And that sums up my entire creative year.

Now, instead of white-knuckling it as much as possible, I’ll plan for finishing up a few UFOs each year, a few “new-to-me” projects, and a few scrap bin-based projects.  No guilt required.

AND…if it’s time for me to work on a UFO, and I pull out a UFO and decide to just donate it instead, IT COUNTS.  The goal is to whittle down the UFO pile and close those open loops, and that happens even if I donate a half-finished project to Goodwill.

I am super excited to give the plan a try!

What are your methods for finishing UFOs and managing scraps?

 

Yarn Swag

The yarn stash has grown considerably, thanks to the annual “Yarn Quest” that’s put on by seven yarn shops in the Salt Lake Valley. Thought I’d share some pictures of the swag for those of you who are as excited by wool as I am:

Some Cascade 220, purchased at Unwind, which I plan upon using to create another Aran Scarf, this time for myself:
Rowan Colourscape Chunky, picked up at The Unravelled Sheep. An impulse buy because it reminded me of Penguin for some reason. Not quite sure what I’m going to make with it; probably a scarf for the cute girl:
A handful of skeins of Tahki Cotton Classic, found at The Wool Cabin, intended for a Sweet Pea Hat and a Happy Trails hat (Ravelry link):

Some Knit One Crochet Too “Crock-o-Dye,” purchased at Black Sheep Wool Company, in a colorway that matches Bluebird’s new winter parka, for which she is lacking accessories:
Mmmm, Koigu. Believe it or not, all three of these colorways will be in the same project and will probably end up looking quite fabulous. That’s the magic of Koigu. I don’t know why it works that way, but it does. I plan upon using this to make a beautiful linen stitch scarf that I saw on display at Blazing Needles:
Shibui Stacatto, colorway: “50’s Kitchen,” also from Blazing Needles. I saw it and grabbed every skein of it from the display because I just absolutely fell in love with the colors. I think they make a cute “little boy” colorway…I’m leaning towards using it to make a cardigan for Monkeyboy:

Some Berroco “Vintage,” destined to become a Pembroke vest for Monkeyboy, chosen after Kamille pointed it out for its machine washability and economical price:
A special treat that I picked up at Three Wishes Fiber Arts–a merino and tencel fiber blend by Greenwood Fiberworks (fittingly named “Vancouver”)–for me to get my spin on.I only possess a hand spindle, so spinning hasn’t been a big focus of mine. However, at knit group, Kit showed me an easier way to wield the hand spindle and thus re-ignited my interest in the craft.

Bluebird wants some Mommy-made yarn as well, and chose some fiber at Three Wishes in a colorway that suited her, Mountain Color’s “Gold Rush”:

The purpose of Yarn Quest is to get you to visit all seven stores (hopefully parting with some of your money) and get your Yarn Quest card punched/stamped so it can be entered into a drawing for all sorts of delicious knitting goodies.

They also had a kids’ card, which Bluebird diligently presented at each shop and is now holding her breath over whether or not she’ll win a prize. (If she’s inherited her mother’s luck, she will not win a thing.)

It was fun to spend two whole Saturdays with just her (and Monkeyboy, as I’m his sole food source), travelling about and chatting and just being together. It’s hard to find one-on-one time with my children, so I was pleased that we could bond over something that interests me so much. Penguin is looking forward to tagging along with us for next year’s Yarn Quest because she wants some quality time with Mama as well.

She’s been requesting knitting lessons every since we walked out of the first shop together. I was planning on teaching her this winter, but might bump it up as a result of her newfound enthusiasm. Heaven knows we have enough inspiration, in the form of yarn and fiber, to keep us happily engaged for many months to come!