Eeny Meeny Miny Moe

by Kim Stenehjem

I jumped on this year’s 2023 Resolution Challenge like a duck on a June bug. I admit it. I am a closeted UFO collector. It’s not just that I have unfinished projects piling up everywhere but now I’ve started adopting other people’s. For at least ten years, I’ve resolved not to start any new projects until I finish my UFOs. At first I made some progress and got some completed, but it wasn’t long before I backslid every time a shiny new idea came along. Now I have more UFOs than when I started.

I was not always this way. While I was working on my first quilt, Virginia Dambach happened to say something about pulling a block out of her pile of unfinished projects and I, in my ignorance, said “I can’t imagine working on more than one quilt at a time.” OMG, the naivety of it all. I’ve come a long way baby.

Step One: Inventory

First thing first is to pull all the UFOs into the light of day. Oh dear. OK, so. Count them. Oh my. Twenty five in all. Oops, missed one. Twenty six. Many of them haven’t seen the light of day for years.

Step Two: Classify & Eliminate

There is more than one kind of UFO. For example, there are WIPs (works in progress), WISPs (works in slow progress), TBQs (to be quilted), PhDs (Projects half done), ABBs (all but binding) and WOMBATs (waste of money, batting, and time). Heaven knows how many other cute anagrams quilters have come up with but I’ll stick with those.

Right off the top, I took two quilts that needed mending off the list. I fixed one in under an hour. The other is completely done but I was never happy with the binding. I had planned to take it off and miter the corners properly. But I’m putting it back in the quilt collection and can bring it back out when I have cleared the slate of UFOs. Count is down to 24.

I got rid of two WOMBATs — With the first one, I don’t know why I thought that would be a fun project but (as Marie Kondo says) it does not spark joy. I ripped out the seams I had done, put the cut fabrics in my scraps bin and the other pulled fabrics back on the shelf. That felt good. The second WOMBAT was really just a pile of fabrics with a set of cute panels. Fun idea and I want to do it sometime but that feels more like a new project I haven’t started than a UFO. Back onto the fabric shelves. If I really love it, I can pull it back out again. Especially since I took a photo of the fabrics together. (I think I cheated there). Counter dropped to 22.

I’m eliminating all the TBQs from the UFO inventory. Counting those feels too much like adding a task you’ve already finished to a To Do List just so you can cross it off. I’ll hand them off to a commercial quilter when I have room in the budget but I’m not going to machine quilt anymore large quilts on my home machine. My physical limitations just won’t let that happen. That’s a whopping five off the total. Standing at 17.

At least three of the remainder are actually WISPs. One is an embroidered wool hexie quilt that I take with me to a stitching group once a week. It’s my to-go project because I can pop a hexie in a bag with some threads and take off. The other is a crazy quilt that I will pick up from time to time and add more to. It’s my memoir quilt and I’m having memories. It’s very slow progress but a little bit gets added every year. The last is a hand quilting project that I’m not excited about at the moment but that doesn’t fall into the WOMBAT category (at least not yet). But I’m eliminating it from this challenge because it will never get done in the deadline. Now down to 15

I don’t have any ABBs so no way to whittle down the number there. Nuts

Six of my UFOs came from other people–two are vintage pieces I adopted. Two more were from friends that had quit work on them. Eliminating those feels good (the projects not the friends). The last two in this group are crazy quilts made by my grandmother, her sisters, and their mother that need repair and stabilization. I’m moving those into the WIP classification that I can work on when I’m watching TV. There’s little to no design decisions required and no machine sewing; just a lot of patching and net overlays to add to what once were finished crazies. I won’t be counting those in the UFOs that meet the challenge criteria for me. Down to nine now. That’s a reasonable pool to choose from.

Step Three: Identify the Roadblocks

Next week, I’ll post photos of the nine candidates for the challenge and talk a little bit about why they fell into the no-mans-land of UFOs in my sewing room.

In the meantime, how many UFOs did you have to draw from? Add your count in the comments below.