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UFO's: The Bane of a Crafter's Life

Updated on May 26, 2009

Even if you don't know the term "UFO" as it applies to crafters, you know the concept: those odds and ends that you never have used, projects you hold on to even though it's been years since you even looked at the pattern, fabric saved for "someday", half-completed sweaters or quilts. Those are your unfinished objects, your UFO's.

They clutter up closets, attics, and spare rooms. You keep them, thinking you will have time to work on them, but they just sit there unused. You think about getting rid of them, but then what if you actually need something?

Chances are, if the project has sentimental value, like a patchwork quilt made from the family's clothing or a half-completed photo scrapbook, you will finish it sometime. But if it doesn't, and you've held onto it for five years or more, think if you really have a reason to keep it longer. If you do, write the reason on a piece of paper and keep it with the project, either pin it on or paperclip it on, so you know why you are saving the item. Put all the UFO's with reasons for saving them in a container and label it "projects to complete".

If your craft uses small materials, collect the ones you use most frequently and box them up together, then put them either in or near the other box. Photographs can go into photosafe storage boxes, which stack nicely and can be labeled on the front. Small bits of paper can be stored in photo boxes as well. Only save the things that are unique or expensive, since you can buy the rest when you start in on the projects again.

Be realistic. If clay has dried out or is past its expiration date, throw it. If you have a pattern for something you will never wear or use because it's not your style anymore, give it to Goodwill. If yarn or fabric is taking over your life, donate it to a crafter's guild. Ask around at your favorite craft stores for ideas of where to donate supplies. Post items on Craig's List and Freecycle. Do an internet search for craft groups in your area, and ask them if they would like the items. Contact schools and daycares to donate the smaller pieces to their art programs.

Above all, don't feel guilty for getting rid of the projects, supplies, and patterns. You are giving them a new life as a completed project that someone, somewhere will admire. Let them go, knowing that they will be used and loved. Then, when you have time, you can work on your own UFO's with a lighter heart.

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