On the weekend, Brian asked me to fix the busted strap on the courier bag he uses for his laptop and work papers. It’s one of two bags I made years ago – he wore the first one out after three years of daily use, and has been carrying the other one for about two years. While evaluating the repair (easy enough to make), I noted the bag is in bad shape overall. In a couple of spots the exterior fabric is worn right through and can’t be repaired properly without a high level of skill. “It’s time for a new bag,” I said.
As luck would have it, two years ago I came pretty close to finishing a new courier bag for him. It just never got done, there was a power outage that lasted for days and I lost momentum). Thus, it was languishing in the basket of Unfinished Objects.
Since I’ve been in my annual studio-cleanout mode this month (triggered by year-end out-with-the-old vibes), it was a natural next step to upend the UFO basket and pick all the bag pieces out for finishing. But of course, that wasn’t the end of it, and over the last few days I have sorted through, ironed out, and evaluated many of the projects in the UFO basket – a few of them several years old.
Some items were no-brainers to get rid of – lining for a coat I gave up on sewing years ago, knitted sweater pieces that blocked out to different sizes. Others just needed a bit of work to finish or repair – the infinity scarf at the head of this post was basically done. A couple of them – the courier bag and a linen robe – were not perfectly executed but I assessed that I could still finish them to functionality, saving materials and labour already spent.
I then made a list of the projects I figured I could get through before the end of 2020, and have spent the last couple of days working on it. On Sunday I steam-blocked the scarf so it would be ready to gift to my step-daughter. Yesterday, I finished the courier bag (which took some doing), a set of placemats that needed mending, and a small tote bag that required just a tiny bit of hand finishing. Today I plan to get the hand-sewing done on the linen robe and consult the pattern for the attachment of a belt. Then I’ll work on the floral dress I flailed on but could never get rid of because I loved the fabric too much. And so on.
I have a ton of projects I want to start – and am going to focus on dressing the looms over the holidays – but the fact is we’re at home, not going anywhere over the holiday, and work is winding down until 2021. This gives me a chance to do some end-of-year clean-up and move items out of my mental and physical space.
There are still a couple of large UFOs – a quilt top, a sweater for Brian – that won’t get attended to right now. But for the first time in years, the basket of unfinished objects is not overflowing!
As I write, a piece of crewel-work sits on the desk beside me. I brought it home from my Mom’s place a few weeks ago when helping clean-out her sewing room. Fifty-five years ago, a close friend gave it to her as a wedding present, and my mom meant to make it into a pillow or footstool. Instead, it’s sat untouched in the bottom of her sewing drawer, a nagging “thing to do” that never got done. After more than five decades, I’ve offered to turn it into a pillow for her and mercifully end its unfinished status so that finally she can move on from the weird limbo of the things you can’t use, but also don’t want to get rid of.
In the last couple of years, I have gotten much better at seeing projects through or dismantling them if they aren’t working (I frogged a sweater a couple of weeks ago rather than leaving it aside), but I don’t think my relationship with the UFO-basket will ever come to an end. Such is the maker-space; always items undone, not quite working, needing more attention – which I suppose is just one big metaphor for all our human undertakings!