Finishing is tough (in knitting and organizing)

9 July 2009

It’s the rare knitter who enjoys the finishing aspects of their knitting projects. That’s the weaving in of ends, the blocking (soaking or steaming the knit fabric to size), the seaming.

Finishing is the bane of existence for most knitters. And it seems to be real problem for folks who are tackling organizing projects as well. (I count myself in both groups.) I can think of a few reasons:

  • Fear of screwing up the finishing and rendering all the prior work wasted
  • Fear of discovering I made a mistake in the process and will have to start over
  • The tedium of the final tasks (whether it be seaming a sweater or shlepping donations to charity)
  • Not knowing how to finish
  • The threat of being disappointed in the final result

But the flip side of the coin is the thrill when a project that has gone well is finished. And the time freed up to work on something else (another knitting project, another organizing project, or maybe just something fun).

I’m experiencing the combined tedium and joy of finishing a giant knitting project. As I’ve blogged about before, I started knitting Barbara Walker’s Learn-To-Knit Afghan back in early 2006. It’s comprised of 63 8×8-inch squares, each knit in a different stitch pattern. By the time you’ve finished it, you’ve tasted many different types of knitting.

I got about 48 of the squares done, hit a wall in the Lace section, then put the project down. I picked it up again about a year later when I participated in the Ravelympics, where my goal was to finish the Lace section during the days of the summer Olympics. I actually finished the rest of the squares in that time.

For more than 10 months, those finished squares sat in a stack waiting for me to do something with them. The next step was to lay them out, so that I could seam them into a blanket. I had absolutely no idea how to go about doing that well and lacked the confidence to do it myself. I didn’t want a poor layout to result in an ugly blanket. Plus, I was a little afraid that the seaming itself would be difficult or just plain unenjoyable.

Finally, last month, I sought the help I needed to get past that barrier. I took all 63 squares with me to Michigan on my R&R trip with my crafty girlfriends. And I got some of them to help me layout the afghan. They weren’t daunted at all.

Here’s a photo of the laying out process. It was like putting together a puzzle!

I decided to seam only 48 of the 63 squares, to make a smaller blanket to use on the couch. Once those squares were selected and laid out, I started seaming. I had six columns and eight rows. I started seaming columns, then I sewed columns together.

Here are two of the first squares seamed together:

Here’s a photo of the first column:

And the first pair of columns seamed together:

And the whole thing seamed together:

The next step is weaving in all those ends. Then I’m going to put an applied i-cord border around it. Then I’ll back it with soft fabric, so it’s cozy for using on the couch. And when I’m finished, you can count on my posting a photo!

A finishing job this big somehow seems more than finishing. I’m kind of glad I didn’t consider the enormity of what would have to be done after I’d completed the squares.

This is a great metaphor for all projects, isn’t it? Do it one square at a time. When you’re finished with all the squares, do the next task. Ask for help if you get stymied. Finish that task and then the next. Keep plugging away (even if you take months-long breaks!) and eventually you’ll finish. And, trust me, that’s a thrill and a half.

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I am very impressed and in awe of knitting, sewing, and those skills. I love the parallels in life. I would also add to your metaphor with partnering with your crafty girls and with a sewing bee or a quilt club. Congratulations Janine on an amazingly beautiful goal accomplished!

Ellen Delap 07/09/2009 01:08 PM

It is a great metaphor for all projects and I so relate with what you wrote. Printing off that last paragraph and putting on my “inspire” wall for a reminder when I hit that spot. Thanks and wonderful job!

Susan Long 07/10/2009 05:53 AM

wonderful job on the blanket! what are you doing with the other squares? pillow covers? you’ll love the applied i-cord if you’ve not used it before..i used it on a ‘leftover sock yarn’ blanket, and it’s now my go-to for edging.

Kris Van Allen 07/10/2009 09:09 AM

love your afghan thanks for shaing

nicole 01/25/2014 06:24 AM

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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