I Ditched This Project. What Happened?

By Ann Shayne
March 7, 2019

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  • How did you fix the uneven stitch count?

    • I want to know, too.

    • Me too!

    • The best part of knitting groups and blogs is finding out how much we have in common as we travel through our supposedly unique trips of life. Knitting is our craft, human is our bond. I love you folks! PS: I’m finishing up a Lost Project in the back ground of a couple of other current projects. Hard to say which is most satisfying. Knit On!

      • Exactly how I felt reading the daily letter. I have several zones of despair in my knitting closet and one of my goals this year is to revisit at least two of them by June.

    • Who says it needs to be fixed? If it only becomes apparent when you count stitches individually, whos going to notice?

      • A lot of times it wouldn’t matter that much. But the next thing to happen in building this particular sweater is setting up a color pattern, where having the right numbers is very important. Otherwise, you have a set-up for even more gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. Been there…

        • As recently as earlier this week.

    • So do I!

      • I kept thinking that because it was still in the one-color section, you could just increase and decrease as needed in each section evenly to fudge the numbers. Those aren’t huge differences.

  • Oh yes! I have just done the same with my Tecumseh sweater. Found abandoned, investigated, and then I remembered; too short in the body and sleeves. So, I have unpicked all the ribbing, added 2″ to the body and sleeves and as we speak completing the ribbing. Fallen totally in love again with the pattern and The Farmers Daughter Juicy DK yarn is just gorgeous. Very happy I found that bag….now the about the other bags…..

  • i feel you, Ann, my recent endeavor is in the same pitiable state of a stitch count that does not match.
    I have not figured out yet how to fix this, being at the second sleeve of a top down sweater – groan
    but fixing I will, after your encouragement! thank you!

  • Sounds like a great way to approach all “problems” and not just in the knitting realm! Tweak a bit here and there and you have a wonderful sweater . . . or whatever!

  • I can so totally relate to this! I recently found a cardigan that I had put away when well over half way through… no idea why, and I came to the conclusion I was simply bored with knitting it! But I still love the potential FO, so onwards and upwards!

  • Reading this, an image popped into my mind of an abandoned mystery knitalong…I think it has been almost long enough….after I finish the 2 projects on my needles!

    • I have a 40 year old Fair Isle finished perfectly to the start of the yoke that I had put away. It’s in perfect condition, beautiful and expensive 100% wool yarn on a circular 3 needle. Yoke pattern was faded in places, but my clever daughter solved that issue. I’ve been an off and on knitter over the years but now on all the time and loving it. Will finish the sweater but my problem is the 30 lbs. on my 40 years older body. Can I block the sweater to fit my evolved body. I absolutely love your sweater and your daily letters.

      • If it doesn’t block out to fit your body (and styles have changed, so maybe you were aiming for an oversized ’80’s fit that will look great less fitted on the new you) you can always give it away to a family member or friend who will look great in it!

        • Thanks, Pam. Unfortunately, it wasn’t supposed to be oversized. However, I’ll do my best with the blocking and if it does’t fit, I’ll take your advice and find someone who will appreciate it. A very experienced knitter told me a few years ago to use hair conditioner when I block it. The wool is Rowan 100% wool.

      • Another option for your soon completed vintage sweater is to steek and to transform it into a cardigan. Hopefully you will have leftovers for button bands, or be able to get some matching/contrasting Rowan. I’ve just done this to a 35 year old Cowichan sweater (my body having also evolved over the last 35 years) and I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and with myself for being brave enough to (very carefully) wield the scissors and undertake my first steek!

        • Wow, I never thought of that and am sure I will have enough yarn to do this with help from my lys. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I had the same thing happen to my Hadley. Got the sleeves and body together but the body count was off. Sleeve count ok but I suddenly wondered if I had knitted them a bit too long. Time out for a few years. Dang. So close and I was getting to the fun knitting part. Last fall I dragged it out and decided that I could fudge one or two stitches and that the sleeve length would likely be ok. The knitting was fun. The fudging worked out just fine and the sleeves are long but not too long. However, I messed up somewhere in the yoke decreasing and the last numbers were not working. I could not find my mistake and the pattern looked fine. Bravely ribbed for a crew neck and bound off. It looks just fine and I am so glad to have my Hadley. Still I have no idea what happened to ten yoke stitches and to think I almost gave up with a three stitch discrepancy before the yoke. Knitting can be magic.

  • I’m not nearly as experienced a knitter as y’all are but I found this post ever so inspiring!!!

  • I think this is my favorite post ever! Funny, engaging and so true!

  • I volunteer in our local food bank, we have a shop where we sell all the very best of the donations, my department is fabric and yarn [heaven for me] 3 weeks ago I unearthed a bag of knitting,, a gorgeous cherry red Aran cardigan but not completed, just the button bands to do, curious I took it home to have a proper look at it over the weekend….it was all there: needles, plenty of yarn the pattern, and by some miracle my tension was virtually the same as the previous knitter so I finished it, washed it, took it back in and purchased it for my daughter in law who is very happy….BUT OH how I wish I knew why it was never finished, it is a superb piece of knitting and I feel very happy to have completed it and found it a new home.

    • I suspect it came from someone cleaning out a relative’s house, someone who didn’t knit. How fortunate that it found a good home and a donation to a good cause. Happy ending.

    • This is the best Happy Ending ever 🙂

    • I love this!! Hurray for you!! Possibly the first knitter was unable to finish and you have made her very happy! !

  • You have given me a great incentive to pull out my UFOs. There are only a few but I am not sure why I stopped working on them…

  • Me too! I had a very simple sweater that I was making for son #2. Stitch count was wrong after attaching the sleeves. It went into a bag, into a box, moved from CA to NY, was unearthed in NY, and looked at at least 7 times before I was ready to tackle it. It ended up being a super simple mistake to fix and I finished it in a day. Just in time for son #3 to wear it this winter. It had been packed away since that son was in a stroller—he’s in 2nd grade now .

  • Thanks for the honest look at all the ways we can get off track and back on with knitting. I wish every aspect of my life was as amenable to fixing mistakes.

  • A tale we can all relate to – I do a weekly class “Project Workshop” which just means bring-in-yer-stuff-and-we’ll-get ‘er goin’. The “where AM I?” is a regular. Recently had a 90% finished 20 year-old Aran. She stopped taking the bus and so didn’t have knitting time… Hadley will be fab!

  • I love this post…. There’s always hope! (makes me think of my modern mukluks in some project bag in bottom of a drawer….)

  • “triple-plastic purgatory” may be the best name ever for a rock band

  • I once had a cat pee on an almost finished sweater (with cables!!!). I cried a lot, stuck it back in the knitting bag and put it on a high shelf for 3 years! When I pulled it down, the smell was gone. I gingerly (cuz, yuck) knitted the only part left – the crew neck ribbing – bound off, and washed it! Hallelujah! A new gorgeous sweater!!! And the cat has passed on; she’s waiting for me at the rainbow bridge. I’ve forgiven her.

    • This is the best reason for abandoning a project I have ever heard. I’m glad there’s a happy ending and a beautiful sweater.

    • Oh wow, I can’t imagine! My first cat used to pee on my laundry whenever I would go out of town. When moving I found a pair of jeans fallen behind the washer that she’d evidently christened some time before. When I washed them I discovered those many months of the ammonia soaking in meant some VERY obvious bleached spots. Glad that didn’t happen to your hard-earned sweater!

  • I can relate to all of this! I just rescued two pairs of thrummed mittens, both 3/4 completed, from the back of my closet of despair. The following day my grandchildren were thrilled to receive cozy mittens to wear. Sometimes a project just needs a good rest.

  • I’m so glad you’re finishing your Hadley — mine is my very favorite sweater!

  • Love this post. This is my goal for 2019, finish all WIP stuffed into bags.

  • This is a story many knitters can relate to, and your resolution is very satisfying and inspirational, Ann – thanks for sharing! A couplefew years ago, Louise at Knit British did a KAL that was entirely dealing with languishing WIPS, and I joined in because I had one that had positively haunted me. Well…further exploration yielded another…and another…by the time the KAL was over, I had finished FIVE projects, including a half-finished pair of socks that I didn’t even recall casting on.

  • Me too!! This happened to me twice this winter, with a tunic that I was pulled out of my UFO bin thinking i should just unravel it and use the yarn (It had sat there for 2 years at least), but I went to try it on and loved it! No knitting needed, just all the ends to weave in! And then my Birkin from last year, which I thought I needed to lengthen the body, really was fine, so I just finished the sleeves, and voilà, 2 new sweaters keeping me warm daily. So fun! ( and really interesting psychologically, to have this concrete example of how my judgement can be so harsh when something I do doesn’t match up 100% with what I think it should be. Once enough time passes I forget about it and see the possibilities so much better!)

  • Hey! Thanks for that! You’ve given me courage to dig out some unfinished wonders!

  • This post is so inspiring and funny and true! Thank you for writing this. I have a half-knitted sock that has been languishing for a long time…I think it’s time to figure out where I was, or just rip and start over…if I can find the pattern!!!

  • I also just recently found my Hadley at the bottom of a basket in about the same place as yours – I stalled due to indecision of how to finish the neck and had completely forgotten about the poor sweater. I’m glad it languished, because in the last 2 years, I’ve become much more honest with myself about what styles fit and flatter me and if I had finished that sweater with the full neck, it would never have gotten worn. I finished it a month ago with a crew neck and have worn the heck out of it during this chilly winter we are having!

  • I’ll confess to abandoning my Stopover very early in its knitting. I love MJM’s pattern, but I did not like working with the Lopi at all. I don’t like the way it feels in my hands. I may have to get back on that horse work on it again. It’ll be worth it when it’s done.

  • I just finished a cardigan from a Brooklyn Tweed pattern. I ripped that cardigan out 2 times before I got the size and pattern right. Fortunately, I could save the sleeves each time. At one point I almost stopped working on it, but persistence paid off. It’s a beautiful sweater and fits perfectly.

  • How well I know that what was I thinking. In my cedar chest is a baby sweater I was making for my daughter when she was about 1yr. It is still not finished and she turns 61 this year.

    • Emily, this struck me as just precious! I think there are some special memories knit into that unfinished baby sweater. And I think maybe this wins for oldest UFO??

    • I can imagune that being me. Currently my oldest unfinished sweater is for a 2-yr old who is now 17!

  • I’m there. It is sitting there, for years, mocking me.
    I will finish it.
    This year sometime!

  • Great story, and very inspirational for all of us, as evidenced by all of the comments! I loved your detective work! Isn’t it great to have a finished sweater with very little effort!!!

  • I can so relate! I did the very same thing with a Stephan West shawl. 2 years later I found the problem could be fudged and finished it in 2 days. Thanks for making me laugh this morning!

  • I was so determined last year to pull out and finish the sweater – the first one for ME ME ME – started years ago. And after two moves, the “go bag” of knitting and the “bag with the rest of the yarn” had been separated. And I Could. Not. Find. the yarn. I did what I tell the children to do: clean until you find it. It took almost a year (and embarrassing calls to the moving company and the guy who bought my house, about a missing box of yarn), but after organizing the rest of the craft supplies and the tools and the gardening equipment and the scouting equipment and making room for a new water heater and making space to store and possibly “work on” the broken shutters and putting up some more supports for the chimney and the 200 year old floorboards, I found the box, the entire box I knew I was missing, with so much yarn I knew I was supposed to have.
    I am now desperate to finally finish the sweater so the weather will warm up. I KNOW how this works.

    • I love this story with all of the details! Like so many of us, when we move, we knew exactly where it was in the previous house and certainly don’t remember tossing it in the moving frenzy. However, we simply cannot find it until…well, you know the rest.

  • I had a yellow summer shell say for about twenty years. I ditched it because I didn’t think it would fit me. Found pattern with just one ball of yarn then in another bag found rest. Finished it it fit me but I didn’t like how it looked. So gave it to a friend.

  • Triple bag your Troubles. I’m still laughing.
    Also, I am delighted that you figured your way out of a UFO and then in to a
    Banging New Sweater. xo

  • What a sweet, affirming post. Hilarious, too.

  • Um. Speaking of abandoned projects…it’s now March and what has happened to March Madness? No judgments here as I never managed to nominate a pattern myself, but was selfishly looking forward to others’ favorites.

    • Yes, me too!

      • I remember the initial nomination parts mentioned Field Guide 10 would be available at the same time as March Madness. Since that’s due out tomorrow, maybe that will also be the start of March Madness? “Official” (basketball) March Madness doesn’t start til the 18th so that’s also possible.

    • The magnificent day is almost upon us! Friday, March 15 is when the March Mayhem 2019 bracket will be revealed. The nominations were absolutely dazzling–so many talented designers familiar and brand new were recommended.

  • I did that too— a tiny vest for my tiny daughter. I was a newish knitter and not good at picking up stitches, so I dreaded the finishing touches— picking up to knit the edgings around the neck and arms. So it sat there from 2004 until like 2014– when a much more experienced me banged it out in like an hour or two and gave it to a friend’s little girl. 🙂

  • Oh man. My Abandoned Project story: I was digging around in the basement one day about seven years ago, when I found a plain garter stitch length. It was long, long, loooong, knit lengthwise, in scraps each row a different color; the ends were left as fringe. It was still on the needle, and was about shoulder sized. Good gods, I thought, I’m gonna bind this off and forget about it. I wore it to the local SFF convention that year just to keep me warm, and was stunned: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, stopped me to rave about the shawl! IT’S GARTER STITCH! PLAIN GARTER STITCH, I wanted to yell. It’s become my favorite item I’ve ever knitted. I’ve since remembered what pattern I was knitting–Cheryl Oberle’s ruana pattern in Folk Shawls–and am glad I decided to bind off when I did. I would have lost it in the fire that swept through our basement four years ago, wrecked three-quarters of my stash, and threw us out of the house for ten months.

  • Will you wear it in Edinburgh during the Yarn festival?

  • Fudge is definitely a verb in this household. Good work, Ann!

  • Love this…

  • You nailed the emotional tour of finding a UFO that stymied the maker.
    You have motivated me to give some of those lost souls a rebirth!

  • this is so me I have a pair of cat mittens the pattern where the cat wraps around the hand and I decided to double knit, its warmer right? I am in my sixties, knitting since I was 6 (grew up in Germany) so who needs a gauge swatch, not I. Everything goes well till I realize the pattern will never fit regular size mittens.The person with hands big enough to fit these mittens has not been created yet. I even started both at the same time, otherwise I will never remember what I did the first time around. Even when I write it down it rarely makes sense. So they are in a bag, see through, wool, pattern, needles and all, staring at me from time to time. Even this crazy Winter has not convinced me that 3 years are enough. I knitted lots, finished lots, but my mittens are still banished.

    • Could you felt them down to size?

    • Sounds like they’d make nice pillows.

  • So relatable and hilarious. I have a bohus sweater with the yoke finished in ufo purgatory. Reason: I didn’t do one of the increase rounds exactly per pattern, not that I can tell the difference, but it niggles the little perfectionist part of my brain so that I can’t go forward, awaiting going backwards?

  • Love this story!

  • What a gorgeous, wonderful surprise. This sweater will be so lovely. Love your color combos!

  • I have a half finished Hanne Falkenberg sweater that has been hibernating for 18 years. There, don’t you all feel better?! I will finish it some decade soon and be the best dressed lady in the nursing home. There are others, but Hanna rules the closet.

  • I’ve been trying to finish up some UFOs. There were a couple of projects that I started and then abandoned because I wasn’t sure if I liked the colors. I dug them out, decided that I would just see what happened with the colors (both in gradients), and am finishing them up! What fun! Your sweater looks gorgeous and I am all for fudging stitch counts!

  • I love that the post title reads like clickbait: “I DITCHED THIS MOSTLY-FINISHED SWEATER, YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHY!!”

  • It is so reassuring to know that even Ann has abandoned projects! This encourages me to look in my WIP box to see exactly what I have stashed in there – and why I tucked them away, unfinished.

  • My thanks to Ann and Anne-Laure for the lessons I’ve learned today:

    1. Nothing beats written information because I know my so-called memory is not going to help. Therefore, write it down. In detail. Including where the rest of the yarn is. Bag the essay and the pattern with the project.

    2. When what I’ve done looks like it’s not good enough, look for possibilities.

  • Mmmmm fudge…..I must be hungry

  • A year or so after moving to this house, and finally getting every box out of every kind of storage, and chipping away at the unpacking (EEEEK! HERE COME THE MEMORIES!), I unearthed a nearly-finished Margaret sweater. Does anyone remember Margaret? The sleeves are set in, sides (temporarily) seamed. It needs a few more inches on the skirt, and finishing. I have no idea why it got put away when almost done. I can only claim parenthood-induced amnesia. But I was SO HAPPY to see it! It is currently way up close to the top of the queue.

  • I love this. I have a single sock that I’ve been hiding from for more than a few years. You have encouraged me to dig it out, find the pattern and end its’ power over me!

  • This is a super post, Ann. I’m going in! Ta for your encouragement. Your the best kind of girlfriend.

  • Would love a photo of the finished neck here! Lovely sweater.

  • THANK YOU! I have a blue on of those buried in the bottom of a knitting basket in the back of a closet. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll pull it out, take a deep breath, and try again.

  • Such a hilarious story! Thanks so much.

    So reassuring to know that the Knitting Goddesses at MDK also have stitch count horror stories. I’m currently in that zone and pondering my options and thinking how nice it would have been to have a “How To” on fudging and its little companion “How To” on avoid having to fudge in the first place.Any chance you might disburse such wisdom on us mere mortals one day?

  • That sweater is seriously beautiful! I want to make one. Which yarn are you using?

    • Brooklyn Tweed Shelter! We have sadly sold through our kits for Hadley in the MDK Shop, but I’m thinking a Hadley in Jill Draper Mohonk would be pretty delicious.

  • Sometimes you just have to put it away and clear your head. But boy, looking at it again in your post REALLY makes me long to put one on the needles!! It’s absolutely beautiful.

  • I only wish this blog had the ability to leave “likes” next to comments – they would be ALL OVER the posts here! SO relatable. We all have many projects going – the good, the bad and the really ugly…I’ve gotten to the point where I frog the really ugly and reuse the yarn, but some of the almosts and nearlies haunt me…maybe now I’ll rescue them? Inspired by the success stories here! And, thanks for all the giggles along the way!!

    • LIKE!

      I’ve felt like this the whole time!

  • Always a fan of your writing. But THIS one…this one made me laugh out loud. More than once. Thank you.

  • Oh — you had me at Thin Mints and “shockingly inconsistent”. I made one of these for someone I thought was me — but ended up to be a dear friend. Convenient transfer – but it languished for a while in the plastic dungeon. Thanks for recognizing an all-too-common condition with eloquence!

  • Awesome

  • Oh! This is inspiring me to dig out the husband sweater I started ages ago and then abandoned because the sleeves were of uneven stitch count. I’m going to have to see if it can be salvaged.

  • Thanks Ann, this was just what I needed. I’ve been struggling with a sweater for a couple of months and it felt so good to hear that even you professionals have trouble with patterns and just put them in time out.

  • After my mother died I was left with a monumental amount of her unfinished projects. I refused to finish anything that predated my own adolescence (I was 37) but it still was a lot. I called it “grief knitting” and it occupied me for about 2 years. At that point I called a halt to the grief knitting because good grief ENOUGH GEEZ MOM and ever since I’ve been extra careful with my own wip pile. Sewing projects though, ugh ugh ugh I have a lot of those and I don’t like to think about it at all. Agh, all the lost pattern bits and facings, the dreaded upside down inside out facings, knitting is so much easier to fix and figure out than sewing!

  • When I seriously got back into knitting about 17 years ago, I had a really hard time reading charts— and Heaven forfend it would have one of those ‘no stitch’ blocks in it! I tried a pattern by Annie Modesett- a beautiful scarf pattern- and just could not do it. A few years and a lot of knotting charts later, I revisited that project and it was a piece of cake. And my goodness- a sweater that beautiful and that far along— it’s like finding that 100-dollar bill (or in this case, maybe 2 or 3, LOL) you thought you’d lost in your old coat pocket!!!

  • I feel so understood.

  • Oh Triple Plastic Purgatory! Such a perfect a monicker!! I can so very much relate to so many of these posts. Some banished from frustration, because I can’t find the mistake to fix it, because the mistake is evident and is going to take an act of Congress to revise, others for boredom or because in progress I hate the color combinations.

    You have motivated me to at least take them out of the closet (or worse the basement for the last umpteen year’s since we moved here -Ugh!) and assess what I am going to do with them.

    Thanks for the inspiration and reminder that we all go through this and that many projects, while not perfect in the end, are wonderful nonetheless. Happy knitting!!

  • And it is gorgeous!!

  • Might you ever restock kits for this lovely in the shop?

  • “triple plastic purgatory” ……..best phrase evah!

  • I just finished a scarf I started in February. OF 2010!!!!!!No excuses I just lost interest. Now I feel so happy and saintly that I finished it. I might even wear it.

  • You are one hilarious sleuth.

  • My first big and only project I started as a Crochet wrap. Foolish me used four strands and I frogged the whole thing. I began a knitting project of a circular wrap, seamless and so beautiful. I worked feverishly on this. I got wild and decreasing stitches and it turned out as a mess. I would not be foiled and got a smaller circular needle and made this wrap right. I am close to the finish and my Dear Sister who helps me care for my Mom will get this wrap. I am currently working on another wrap for me or for sale at my stylist new shop. Next time I will plan accordingly! I have put the first wrap away for two months and I feel much better about it that I didn’t give up on a beautiful wrap that in Unforgettable “Tidal” color.

  • What a great story, so many funny phrases I want to steal. Zone of Despair! It’s where the dreamer, the starry-eyed optimist lives!

    Because I hardly ever knit with patterns (and rarely plan ahead yarn-wise), I average 3-4 unravellings and 5-6 years to finish a vest or sweater, with mittens in between.

    I think of myself as a good knitter, an experienced knitter — but I’m actually a lunatic knitter who just loves to do it and doesn’t mind the torture.

  • This was so encouraging, as I am back to a sweater I abandoned long ago and have only a few more inches of the second sleeve to finish it. It too needed a bit of fudging, but I am now in the groove and can’t wait to finish that last bit of iCord and enjoying the finished project!

  • There is the focus of a humorous knitting anthology in here somewhere. Plenty of anguished fodder and lemon-into-lemonade inspiration, cat pee and all.

  • Thanks for making me laugh! We have all done what you’ve done, but most of us have never written such a charming confession!

    • After a lifetime of occasional knitting projects set aside, forgotten, mourned because I couldn’t remember why or what the problem was, or which pattern, etc., I found a solution: a notebook. A cheap, spiral school notebook where I *force* myself to at least note the pattern and the particulars as I start each new project. It’s been wonderful. I journal more for some projects than others, but oh how nice to be able to read and remember why I made a change or what was confusing when I last worked on something.