Do You Have UFOs or Works In Progress?

A Post from Kayla:
I had a blast at the quilt retreat reunion last August. I got very little done of my own but I just loved hanging out with all of the quilters and getting to know people with similar interests. It was just as much fun for me to work on my own projects as help other people trim and iron so their projects moved along more quickly.

I can sew pretty well and have some complex quilts under my belt, but most of my time is spent on needlework. It was interesting to be part of a new culture of quilters instead of the Ravelry crowd. One thing that struck me is the terminology we use for projects we are working on.

Quilters seem to have such guilt over “Unfinished Objects” or “UFOs.’ While knitters complain about “cast-on-itis” and sometimes have challenges to use up our stash instead of shopping for new yarn, I feel like there is less guilt involved. We call our items “WIPs” or “Works In Progress.” It’s not that we’re not working on something, just that we’re not working on it right now.

I like to have several projects going so there is always something to keep me interested.  I know Mom gets a lot of questions about how she gets so much done and I think it’s because she does the same.

Currently in progress I have:

  • Fussy cut floral drunkard’s path quilt
  • Fussy cut I Spy quilt
  • Baby block shirt quilt
  • Crazy quilt
  • Knit doily
  • Baby Friedman knit blanket
  • Surprise crocheted afghan
  • Girlfriend’s cardigan
  • Wool + Honey pullover

I enjoy having options ready. I’m slowly collecting fabric for some of my projects and I enjoy the hunt. Some projects are super challenging and I turn for them if I need to zone out. Others are very easy so I use them if I want to watch television or travel. I’ve realized that heavy gauge crocheting hurts my elbows so I can only do a little at a time. I like switching between different crafts.

Try thinking of your projects as Works In Progress instead of Unfinished Objects. It’s so important that making is relaxing and enjoyable, and no one needs an extra to-do list.

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18 thoughts on “Do You Have UFOs or Works In Progress?

  1. Connie

    I so enjoyed your company at retreat! Your baby blocks out of shirts is amazing and the crazyquilt you have posted pictures of on your blog is really cute. I love the embroidery that you are doing to it.

  2. Carolyn

    You are like a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve made clothes from jr high until I was in my 40’s. I started making quilts and loved it, but we all know what burnout is like. A few years ago I started Traditional Rug Hooking and my quilting friends acted like it was a crime not to be eating, sleep and dreaming of the next quilt. I even had one who said, “If you aren’t going to make quilts then we can’t be friends.” Really?

  3. Carol Lorraine Stearns

    I’ve got both. I prefer lots of things going on at once but I do like to finish them. Sometimes it takes years. Going to a retreat this weekend and taking a languishing block of the month and other things. I ought to get a lot done.

  4. Kim J LeMere

    Those UFO are called Somedays at my house and I don’t feel bad if something waits for “someday” it will happen and its on the radar. I prefer to have a few projects going at a time. I love the items you make with yarn, so talented.

  5. Robby H.

    I also knit and quilt (crochet has eluded me thus far). For me a WIP is anything I’m working on or am likely to return to working on. UFOs are things that need to be passed on to someone else because I’ve fallen out of love with it for some reason and it’s unlikely to achieve completion by my hands.

    Nice to have you share with us about what you’re working on.

  6. Carla

    Very true, Kayla. I also have many WIPS in a range of crafty genres. Love to have choices. Also, I’m adding my congrats on the new baby in the family. He’s a cutie for sure.

  7. Linda White

    Hi there! I enjoy reading when someone steps in to give Jo a break!
    To my understanding, WIPs and UFOs are not the same thing and we quilters have both. A WIP is, indeed, a work in progress. This, as you stated, means we go back to it now and then to make a little progress; we are collecting fabrics for it; we just couldn’t wait to get it started but have some other things to finish before we can give it our full attention, etc.
    A UFO, however, is something we started, got tired of or stuck on, so we put it away and there it sits, unloved and unfinished, sometimes for years. It might be a top we finished but fell out of love with it by then, so it never got made into a quilt. Or something that just didn’t please us in the colors, layout or quilting, so it got put in a drawer or closet or bin.
    For whatever reason, a UFO is not something we are currently working on now and then. It’s been kicked to the curb and we don’t like looking at it so it’s often also hidden away.

    Like you, I have a few WIPs going on because I like a little variety. My Leaders and Enders, is a WIP. The black background florals I am collecting is a WIP. The kaleidoscope I have all cut out and waiting for me to get the right background fabric is a WIP.
    I have 4 tops finished that I haven’t found the right recipient for, so I store them as tops so they take up less space. Those are neither WIPs nor UFOs. They are WFOs… waiting for owners. ;)

  8. Sharon

    Variety is the spice of quilting, or knitting. I always have a few different projects on tap. One in particular comes to mind. I got all the blocks finished and went WHEW! But now the blocks sit and the basket of fabrics are tucked away. I must pull it out and get the sash and borders done! I will, when I feel like it. Just not now. I’m busy finishing up other projects that needed attention. It’s all good, I always have something that excited me to work on, but not every project at all times.

  9. Jo Post author

    Carolyn…when people say things like that, I wonder if they know that it’s actually a hurtful. UGH. After my cancer diagnosis I had a “friend” say, “you are so f***** hard to be a friend to”. That hurt my feelings.

  10. Ruth

    Oh, Jo, what an awful thing to say to someone who is already hurting!! No one needs swear words or a friend who thinks that hardship gets in the way of friendship. No one can save anyone else from the difficult trials of the world. We are here to learn and grow and we can’t do that if we never have problems. It’s so much better to say, “I’m so sorry this has happened to you. I would like to do (x) for you. Would that be a help?”
    We are all wishing for a pleasant life, but it is the pleasant attitude that really smooths the way.
    Best Wishes, Jo.

  11. Linda

    I so enjoyed the retreat…..It was fun spending time with you Kayla…I am still crocheting because of you….

    Some one told me a couple weeks ago how worthless my beadweaving is…and I so love to do it…I make lots of things for gifts…

    And OMG JO…someone said that to you….WOW…I remember how scary is was to be told I had thyroid cancer (and it is still scary that it will come back.) Scary too when someone can’t feel someone else bleed….

  12. Cindy E

    I have another category that I call Found Projects. As I’ve been trying to organize/downsize my stash, I’ve run across a couple of projects that I had completely forgotten about. I sent one on to Ronda, a second one I did complete. There are a couple more that I placed in a tub of projects to work on that have been kitted up. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Connie

    JO…. I found your blog many years ago, and fell in love with you and your family, your sewing adventures, thrifting, recipes,etc. Real good people, as Dave would say! When you announced your first retreat, I couldn’t believe that I was going to get to meet you! Since then, I have seen you open your home to a child who needed love and attention. I have witnessed your home full of childcare children and you make it all look so easy, singing songs along the way and baking cookies. I know that you have given sewing machines and fabrics to many. Always, giving selflessly to others. You sell auction items in your antique booth to make some money but do it without gouging others. I could go on, but my point is Who couldn’t love you! Who wouldn’t want to be your friend? Who wouldn’t want to sew, help, pray , cry and laugh with you. I hope that I am at least half the woman that you are. You make it easy to stand up in a retreat and say to a group of strangers that I am your Bestie! LOL

  14. Linda Hodges

    I am sure that Connie speaks for a lot of people out here but who just haven’t got the beautiful words to put it into print. I am in tears now and have been so when reading some of your “Kramer” blogs. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through, such a hard working man.

    Anyway, on a lighter note, thank you Kayla for posting this blog. You are the kind of friend I would like to have. My crochet work sucks. I try but the back of a babies cardigan turns out like a triangle! You seem to have lots of irons in the fire so congratulations to you. Wish I was one of the attendees at your retreat, I could have learnt a lot!

  15. Donna

    I also have several WIPs, both in cross stitch and quilts…plus other crafts when the mood strikes. And you’re right – so much better than UFOs.
    Don’t you love getting together with other crafters? y dd and I attend cross stitch get togethers a couple of times a year. Such fun!

  16. Nell

    So, the word that jumps out for me is the guilt. . .and after a discussion with one of my friends, I am thinking about what I feel guilty about. She says she feels guilt about the mess, about having stuff laying around while working on the project. Now I am thinking. . .I don’t know for sure what I feel guilty about-the not finishing, the time, the money, the fabric, the mess. . .I have cross stitch projects, crochet projects, quilt projects and scrapbook supplies (youngest child realizing not as many scrapbooks of him). Very interesting topic AND great comments to read through and ponder and tear up over!

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