Thoughts on WIPs, WI(s)Ps and UFOs

How many projects do you generally feel comfortable having in progress at a time? Tell us about your one-at-a-time or rotation habits!

I cannot ever remember being a one at a time stitcher. The day my grandma drew my first sampler on gingham, we also got a small needlepoint kit at Kmart. I finished the needlepoint kit but never the sampler. I really wish I had kept the sampler but it was binned when I did a UFO clean-out about 18 years ago because I was losing my stash area. I’ve been lucky in almost always having space for UFO’s or WI(s)P’s or WIP’s and supplies everywhere I’ve lived. With space for stash, comes the ability to kit lots of things. This works for me since I tend to be an ADD crafter. I bounce from project to project as the urge hits. This does not help with getting things finished. I’ve had a subscription to Just Cross-stitch since it started in 1987. At some point I actually started reading the articles as well and one year there was an article about why projects become UFOs. The writer suggested that we quit working on things when we either run into something we don’t feel comfortable doing, a technique that bores us, or a stitch we don’t know. I would like to add to that, knowing you made a mistake and not being able to find it.
The author suggested creating a list (pronounced multiple tab spreadsheet in my case) of the unfinished projects and what is the next step toward completion. I found that most of my pieces had one of two issues – they either needed back-stitching or frogging. For the non-stitchers or beginning stitchers – it’s called frogging since you have to “rip-it, rip-it” to remove the floss you just put in to get back to where the error was made.

This taught me I need to backstitch as I go because I don’t like to backstitch, which is odd because I do enjoy blackwork. Maybe it’s the thought of piercing the threads which are already there that makes the difference. Anyway, that started the analytical part of my stitching. I now keep an excel sheet of my projects, my rotation, my finished work, the WIP and FUP lists and a separate inventory management system which crashed and new options are needed.

2014 Project List  (this is an excel file if you would like to see it)

When I started tracking I would have said I felt over 60 projects would be too many and made me panicked.  However, as I’ve worked on bring it under 60 I’ve found myself trying to justify new starts.  The goal is to lower it to a total of 30 WIP’s counting only those items on the FUPpy list that I can do myself.  [FUPpy is a finished unfinished project – the stitching is done but it needs to be framed, pillowed or ornamented).  I really don’t think I should count items where the only reason it’s on the list is I haven’t budgeted the cash to send it to a framer, finisher,  or machine quilter.  In fact as I write this post I made that change and added a tab called Cash Needed and while I was at that, I carried over the tab from 2 years ago for the old WIP Killers list.  I eliminated some things off it but I still have far to go.  It did feel good to see that a piece which was only 24% completed 2 years ago is now over 54%.  I also added a list of items which I have fully kitted and ready to start.  I thought this might be helpful as I consider more stitching from stash this year.  The interesting thing is that as I look at the list of things that I really wanted to start during the year of the TW Carousel horses, a couple of them don’t appeal to me anymore.

Anyway to get back on topic, the reorganization leaves me with 40 items on my WIP list which is a lot closer to where I wanted to be.  I’m itching to start on Spring Queen by Mirabilia but I have about 3 smalls I should start and complete first.   I currently have no small pieces at all on my WIP list – they’re all completed.  I really do want to complete at least 2 of the large pieces that I have going.

I tend to reorganize my rotation every year and this year, I’m using a category system.  You can read about it here or you can check out the link to the Stitch from Stash 2014 page at the top of the blog. It seems to be working for me.  One of the other new things I’m trying is a stitch journal where I record the amount of time and the project I worked on each day.  I have a ton of empty notebooks and this seemed like a good use for one and I think it’s helping.  I just quake at the thought of having to admit that I didn’t do anything for myself on a day.  So we’re two months into the year and I’m making progress and the rotation seems to be working for my short attention span.  Here’s to keeping it up for a full year…

Leave a comment


  1. Sharon Stevens (shebafudge)

     /  February 17, 2014

    Sounds like a good plan to me. The spreadsheet is a good idea. I bought a book today to record all my projects in! I will get organised!

  2. Cat

     /  February 17, 2014

    It’s always amazed me how many projects that you have in progress at any one time. I have several projects but usually only one of any particular type. I don’t do well with multiple sewing projects. Although, I did start the TW fruit bell pull and I haven’t even finished one fruit square yet. I will get back to it, but I’m working on other things. I’ve got several wood working, house and yard projects.

  3. Nic Maltby

     /  February 21, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this – I posted a blog post the other day about organising what I want to stitch and when and you’ve given me lots of ideas to try.

  4. Sounds like a great way to manage your WUPs – you’re really organized!


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