Thursday, May 24, 2012

My UFO Confession

I bet for every UFO I have, there's a reason - maybe even a good reason that it is unfinished.

I have an unfinished beige sweater that is going to be a beautiful handknit sweater if I finish it, but it will look terrible on me.  I can't wear that color; I'm so beige myself that I will look like a big beige blob.  I ordered the yarn from a small swatch and didn't think it through properly.

I have an unfinished forest green (great color) chenille handknit jacket that is going to be too small. Heck, it was probably going to be too small when I started it.  It doesn't want to unravel; the yarn wants to shred if I try to unravel it.

Last week, when I was working on the golf club covers (three good sets is enough for a while; that's 9 covers) I made some that aren't quite right.  Now a new, tougher Diana is emerging:

I threw them in the trash.

What?  You threw something in the trash!  How shocking, you might say.  Someone could use it!  It's probably better than you think!

Darn right I threw it in the trash!  Here's my new, tough-old-bird thought process:

1.  Removing the embroidery would have shredded the yarn so that it wouldn't unravel decently.  It would have taken a while, too, and my time is valuable.

2.  They aren't right.  I don't like them.  If I finish them anyway, I don't have a recipient in mind.  I don't know a golfer who would want a goofy-looking, not-quite-right set of golf club socks.  (If they were a little better, I'd have stuck them, unfinished, in the Goodwill box.  Maybe then someone else would enjoy finishing and using them, but they weren't up to snuff.  Putting trash in the GW box is very bad form.)

3.  When you make up something new and creative, making a poor sample along the way is absolutely normal.  Certainly, you try to solve the problems with swatching, but sometimes there's still an ugly surprise.  That's one of the great things about machine knitting - you don't have a week or a month invested.  You can play, explore, and make mistakes.  If you want to create really terrific items, you need to make some duds on the way.  (I hear there's a similar sentiment about kissing frogs, but I digress.)

4.  It's so liberating, so stimulating to move on!  There are other projects in the offing, wonderful creative things.  I have a sneaking suspicion that part of creativity is the ruthlessness necessary to THROW THE LOUSY THING OUT.  And move on.  I'm so over you, bad covers, because I finally made good covers!  When I was struggling to finish Diamonds, my sweet friend Greta said I wouldn't be able to do any other creative work until I finished the book, and she was absolutely right.  A piece of me was bogged down until I finished and could actually move on.

5.  Seeing your UFO sitting there makes you feel badly, and you don't deserve it.  Look at #3 - when creating and learning, mistakes are absolutely normal.  So why keep the mistakes forever?


  1. I agree with all you said 100%. I arrived at the same conclusions some time ago and it really is liberating. Same goes for some wonky yarn you thought at the time was going to be really special and it turned out to be horrid. Cushion for the landfill.
    Knit on!

  2. Yup, I've been chucking stuff out this year. I had a massive bag of machine knitted swatches and some material offcuts and I'm never going to get around to using them, so I passed them onto a friend who runs a craft club for kids. As I'm a process knitter anyway, I knit for the fun of learning a new thing but rarely like the garment afterwards, so they nearly all go to charity eventually.