Unfinished work – UFO round up

I have really enjoyed my summer raglan sweater knit a long, followed by the Frida sew a long. I hope you did too. But now I need to think what I want to do next. To be honest the sew and knit alongs may have been a bit of distraction activity for me. I knew I had some projects languishing in bags (out of sight out of mind) that I didn’t want to examine. One of which was my second raglan sweater for the sewalong. But eventually, after doing the underarm seams, and weaving in all those ends, this project moves from UFO to WIP to Finished project….

We have been living in our Cotswold house for a year and a half now and I have accumulated some UFOs which I have reluctantly decided to share in the hope that this will encourage me to resolve the outstanding issues and allow me to clear my work space and move on to new projects.

So I will “share my shame” (I don’t really feel shame, but there is something wasteful and negative about not getting to the finish line) and maybe this will encourage you to look at what you have not managed to finish (there is always a practical or psychological reason). Fadanista Sue and @Geopri123 have been making good progress and this has inspired me. Of course, one of the things you can do with unfinished items is to throw them out, pass them on, or unravel/unpick them. You don’t have to finish them. But I plan to finish all these items.

Firstly is my shawl. This is an active project. It involves lots of rounds of fine, lace weight yarn on fine circular needles, and is ideal to do while watching TV. At the moment we are enjoying the new series of Call Saul, and Unforgotten and Fauda. I have a liking for ultra-violence I am afraid – at least voyeuristically. In real life I abhor violence.

Knitting a shawl in lace weight merino

To make the shawl I just cast on lots of stitches – around 300 I think, with a view that I would double the fabric so it is stocking stitch on both sides, and attach lots of small pom poms. I think because the stitches and yarn are so thin this will take me months and millions of stitches. I am putting in three rows of colour every 25 rows or so. The yarn feels lovely and soft. I have two cones of white left over from my Helmut Lang top so it will be mainly white but the colour makes it more exciting and less baby-blanket.

The next unfinished knitted item is the Elizabeth Zimmermann “Ski Sweater in color patterns”. This can be found in Knitting without Tears Chapter 3. Obviously without actual colour as the book only has vintage black and white photos.

EZ Ski Sweater in Colour Patterns
EZ Ski Sweater in Colour Patterns

This chapter is introduced before all the seamless sweaters chapter that I have been doing for a while. I found it a very attractive jumper but it involves cutting into the body, and seems far more advanced than the seamless ones, so I gave it a wide berth as a beginner. Now I feel I can face doing this sweater, so I made a good start. But because of summer weather and a fear that I had made the colour work a bit tight I stopped knitting.

Unfinished EZ Ski Sweater in Colors
Unfinished EZ Ski Sweater in Color Patterns

I think I know what I need to do here. I don’t like the very light blue at the top or the blue shoulder band. I think I will rip it out and bring in one of the deeper blues again. And the sleeve feels too narrow, so I will undo that too and start again on the sleeves.

Next up is half a pair of log cabin gloves. I already made a nice pair of these, and wanted a second pair. I even posted this singleton on Instagram (I boasted) believing I would quickly make the second one. But I made a false start. The gloves have a different pattern for left and right so that they mirror each other. But when I started the second one I got confused and it wasn’t working right. I will have to go back to the pattern and start again.

Log cabin gloves
Log cabin gloves

With the warm weather I fancied a nice work dress. I have made one or two already, the latest with the border print (which I will share soon). This pattern, which was introduced to me by Jay, is one I really like by a designer I love. I have already made this up in white. 

It is such a lovely 1980s style, with the cap sleeves (it includes shoulder pads, but I will leave them out. The skirt is full but slightly tapered and the upper part has nice princess lines. Also. Pockets. Really lovely pockets built in behind the hip pleats. Just a great design.

Geoffrey Beene dress Vogue 2031

The other sewing project has stalled for a long time – maybe as much as a year – is the Claire Shaffer jacket with a pleat in front of the pocket (is this a theme?). I bought some nice yellowy beige linen at Simply Fabrics and thought this might make a nice summer jacket. Nick loved the fabric and I showed it to Gus, but while it suits both of them better than me (being muted), I really like it too. But I am wondering if it stalled as I know this is not my best colour. I think I had in mind to toile it in this linen, because I haven’t altered the pattern at all. This is a bit risky! But the fabric wasn’t very expensive so I really ought to get on with it. I am not sure I need another summer jacket as the weather has been much cooler recently. But I am curious about the pattern, so I should press on.

Vogue 8333
Vogue 8333

Finally, when I paint on fabric, I sometimes practice first with the colours and shapes. This results in pieces of fabric already painted on. I meant to finish these to make cushion covers. Maybe. Or maybe not. These fabrics can be very nice for covering books as gifts (Christmas is coming).

making hand painted cushions
Painted fabric

16 Responses

  1. Nancy Hedberg

    Ah, Kate…the UFO’s! Mine are too numerous and I’m not ready to share all my shame. 😉 That said, I’m trying to finish up a quilt that has been in the making for almost 30 years. It’s really lovely, but I came to a point where there is no easy way to machine piece a border on it. So here’s my tip for the ‘tight’ knitting. A teacher of mine said to ‘gently pull’ those yarns as you change colors to be sure there is plenty of ease. (You’re knitting with both hands, right?) After a while you get the hang of it. Good luck! Your EZ seamless sweaters have been inspiring!

    • fabrickated

      Nancy – thanks so much for the tight colourwork tip – which is indeed knitted with two hands. I will try it.

      Now to the interesting tale of your 30 year quilt. Will it ever be finished? You have reached an impossible task – the attachment of a border on it. What are you going to do? Stitch by hand? Dismantle it in some way and reassemble later? Farm it out to someone with the appropriate equipment? Or just leave it for a few more years? I ask because my mother was as a young woman doing a big tapestry. When she and my father were first engaged he said he would marry her when it was finished. I heard this story when I opened a bag in a cupboard when I was about 12. Still unfinished.

  2. ceci

    Just yesterday (heat index 102 here…..) I decided I was through with summer and put away 3 unfinished summer shirts. I also finished one of 3 pending embroidery projects and set up for the second one. THEN perhaps the hunting and gathering phase of a big fall project will be farther along and a muslin for that can be started.

    And I suspect there is at least one unfinished heavier weight jacket project lurking from the end of winter clean up that should be addressed before anything other than the big fall project is begun. Maybe.

    So seasonal change seems to be influencing both of us.


    • fabrickated

      Ah yes! The weather and the season are important, of course. Which is why a spring clean was done once the days started getting longer and I guess it was easier to see the dirt.

      You seem to be very industrious Ceci – me I just have bursts followed by periods when not much happens…

  3. mrsmole

    Very brave of you to dig out the UFO’s!!! We all have them, some over 30 years old in the closet…well in my closet anyway. You have been working full time, writing a killer blog and a new book while many of us have been destashing or just loving summer and looking forward to Fall with cozy clothes. Maybe the problem is…you are way too talented in all areas of creativity…I don’t know any other woman who can do what you do, Kate!

    • fabrickated

      Mrs Mole – you really overstate my accomplishments, creating much embarrassment – you marvel of design, fitting and alterations, gardening, cooking, blogging, campaigning and being such a good friend to women of the cloth worldwide.

      I find waste so distressing if I am honest – food, time and materials. I think it may be an illness, but I really don’t like things to be destroyed. When I have a small piece of silk, especially when I have painted it, I hate to throw it away because I feel that lots of silk worms died to create it, and I too have added to that creation. I need the charity shops to take my old things, because I cannot possibly recycle or use everything I have, but it creates such an uncomfortable feeling for me.

  4. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    We don’t talk about UFO’s, the Crate of Shame is overflowing again, but I HATE tweaks and alterations. I have to remind myself how happy I was today wearing my neglected owly top, and all I had to do was spend twenty minutes cutting and attaching a 2″ waistband to make it wearable again instead of riding up over my flab. I’m incorrigible. You have the patience of a saint to do all that knitting, it’s not for me I’m afraid!

    • fabrickated

      I find altering sewing a bit of a bore, but usually worth it. With the knitting, you just pull it all out, and you are as good as new – getting that second chance we rarely have in life. So while destroying your own work does hurt a bit, it is gone, and invisible and I find it easier to do than with sewing. And I have become a watcher of TV and listener to books alongside the knitting, so it doesn’t really need patience. I find it more mindless than sewing, so in a sense zen-zone work. And good to hear the owly top is back in circulation Elaine.

  5. Pamela Smith

    Just a comment on why my stranded colorwork knitting gets too tight – I’ve learned that when I’m doing colorwork I tend to knit with just the tips of the needles BECAUSE I AM CONCENTRATING SO HARD and so I’m not really using the full circumference of the needle. This also happens when I’m knitting the sleeves of baby sweaters. I’m trying to train myself out of it!

    • fabrickated

      Good insight Pamela. I do find I need to concentrate and usually with my knitting I just want to relax. By ripping it back I think I will be able to move forward knowing more about what I am doing. I find doing knitting twice is a bit like a toile. I learn the first time and make a better job of it the second time.

  6. Kim

    I’m trying to clear out the ‘planned but not started’ pile. I don’t think I have many UFO’s but the rest are out of control
    Good luck clearing yours.

    • fabrickated

      Hi Kim – hmm, is there a distinction between planned but not started and UFO? I guess if you have cut out it is started, but a plan – that can always change. Obviously I have bought patterns and fabric with an idea that I later rejected or didn’t get around too. In which case my whole life is a UFO.

  7. Ruth

    Knitting is never a UFO it is always a work in progress – it takes me so long to complete any knitting project that they don’t count.
    Sewing UFOs are rare; alterations, tweeks and mending never seem to be done though.
    I am constantly amazed at your energy, drive and productivity.

    • fabrickated

      I love all your knitting projects Ruth – you are very good at it, and tackling a man’s jumper is such a huge undertaking no surprise at the time it takes.

      I think I knit quite quickly because I enjoy it very much as an activity. Sewing is more varied, but more things can go wrong, but I think it is much harder to get a good outcome that I am completely satisfied with. I have made jumpers that I find very wearable because they are jersey and fit easily, and the colours and pattern are very controllable.

      I think we are all in the driven boat Ruth – which can be a curse as well as a blessing.

  8. Jennifer Miller

    Always interesting to hear what makes other sewists/crafters stop mid-project. I’ve no doubt yours will be completed, and the Vogue dress will be beautiful in that pretty blue fabric. As much as I’d love to, I just can’t see me knitting anything – it just looks way too complicated.

    • fabrickated

      I need to press on with these late summer items Jen – its raining today….

      I came to knitting late and have loved learning more about it. As you haven’t done it yet maybe it is something you could try at another point of your life. Grandbabies are fun to knit for….x

Leave a Reply