Can You Have Too Many UFOs?

One of my favorite podcasts these days has been Knit Picks, with Kelley Petkun. Kelley has a wonderfully soothing voice, so this is a good one to listen to when you're a bit on the stressed side. I also appreciate how much detail she can manage when talking about knitting techniques, new books, and her own fiber-y goings-on... in about a half hour.

In the last week or so, I somehow found the time to catch up on pretty much all of my podcasts (I was waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind), so I downloaded some older episodes of Knit Picks to while away more time. I think it was Episode 12 where Kelley talks about having multiple projects going at the same time. OK, I'm with her on that one - I usually have 2 or 3 projects on the needles at once (except now. I only have my Koigu socks to work on. I really need to get to my LYS. More on that another day.). But Kelley recommends having at least 7 projects going at once, and each falls into a different category: a project for carting with you every day to pull out at the doctor's office or during long meetings (oh, how I wish I could get away with that), a slightly more challenging project for traveling on planes and such, a project that will be a gift for someone else, a project that is quite challenging and teaches you a new technique... you see where this is going.

The thing I keep coming back to is the number 7. 7???? Her methodology may work very well for her, but 7?????? I'd go insane if I knew I had 7 projects vying for my attention at all times. Maybe if I had more time to knit... you know, give up that programming gig that helps sustain La Famiglia A.K.... then I'd probably be able to handle 7 projects. But that's just too many UFOs in my book.

What do you think? Yes, most of us have UFOs laying around the house somewhere, but how many is too many?


Deb S. said...

Ah, the age old question on how many UFOs that one person should have? We in the quilting world ask this question also.

Personally, I don't think there is a magic number. I've known quilters who have 40 or 50 projects started. That would drive me WILD!

I myself like to work on one project at a time. I work in the programming world to feed by fabric habit (and one day soon, a college student) and I multi-task all day, every day. I juggle lots of different projects and target dates. I don't like to juggle multiple things in my quilt world so I usually work on one thing from start to finish.

That being said, I've been known to have UFOs from time to time but I try not to make that the norm. I don't like feeling pressured to get a quilt project done and having multiple things going on makes me feel pressured. After all, isn't our crafting supposed to be fun?

Cris said...

I think "too many" is always going to be a personal definition. There are people who like to focus on one thing at a time until it is done, and others who aren't happy unless they're knee-deep in half-finished projects ... and still others who are knee-deep in knitting and unhappy about it, because of whatever starting or finishing issues they may have.

For me, total number of projects always varies. Right now I'm working on a kimono jacket from "Knit Kimono", which is my current "major" project, a pair of "Monkey" socks, and a plain pair of ribbed socks because the Monkeys proved too difficult to travel with -- requires too much attention to the chart and where I am in the knitting to just pick up and work a few stitches here and there. There's also a scarf which no longer qualifies in my mind as a "project" because I won't have enough yarn to finish how I wanted, it's merely yarn that hasn't been turned back into a ball ... and then there are at least a couple of unfinished "projects" in my spare room that I've pretty much given up on, because I simply don't enjoy them enough to invest the time in finishing them (these are mainly large afghan projects in crochet patterns) I may or may not ever pull them back out and continue, but regardless I don't waste any brain cycles on them.

And yet, at any given time I may start something else, depending on what I feel like or what would be useful. If I get really itchy to start something new, or to finish something, I may pick up some cotton yarn and whip out a basic garter-stitch dishcloth. Easy knitting, done in a couple of days. Since we're moving towards winter in this part of the world, I have thought about making a log-cabin throw for my couch, for which I have plenty of leftover stash yarn from other afghan projects. For the moment I'm more interested in socks, but I may start a blanket ... or may not.

I agree that Kelly's 7 projects seems like a lot, but apparently it's the right number for her ... and that's what's always going to define "too many", the knitter's own mind (with possibly some input from anyone else who lives in her/his house, and has to wade through the yarn on a regular basis :)

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