This is a chapter from my book The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook.
Once upon a time, I had myself fooled into thinking I was a one project at a time kind of girl. As I started to consolidate my knitting stash and work towards a minimalist knitting existence, I realized just how many WIPs [works in progress] I actually had on-hand. Part of my year-long goal has been to rid myself of all those WIPs, and hopefully end up as someone that has no more than one or two WIPS going at any given time.
I’ve been working through my WIP pile for a few months now, and I’ve come to a very harsh decision. There are really only two options when it comes to your WIP bin: you can either frog it or you can finish it.
Those half-finished sweaters and blankets, those single socks waiting patiently for a mate – they all ended up in your WIP bin for a reason. Maybe the pattern wasn’t as amazing as it looked, or you tired of all the edging the thing needed. Whatever your reason, you need to figure out if it’s a big enough hindrance to keep you from finishing the project or not. Sometimes the decisions can be hard to make, but if the goal is a pared down, minimalist knitting life, the WIPs have to go!
Finish it up. If the project is one you still want to finish, or there’s so little left to be done you can power through before donating the item, let this be the next knitting project you finish. Yes, you will have temporarily created a WIP by setting down what you have been working on, and you can wait until that project is done if you like, but be sure this type of WIP is the next on your list. As you finish each WIP, be sure to decide immediately what to do with it. Is it becoming a holiday present? Then add it to your holiday present stash. Will it be donated? Then make up the envelope and get it into the mail. If you don’t have a home in mind for your WIPs while you’re knitting, they are more likely to fall back into the unfinished knits bin.
Don’t be afraid to frog. We all have projects we started with the best of intentions, but didn’t finish for one reason or another. Examine each project individually, and decide if you really want to finish that project RIGHT NOW. If you do, knit on that until it’s done. If you don’t, frog it right then and there. The yarn that’s been sitting unloved can be re-purposed for another project, or it can be donated to someone else. Don’t simply wind the yarn up into cakes and toss them into your stash, however. If you’re going to frog your project, let that yarn become either the next project you cast on, or give it to someone who will use it and love it.
No More Unfinished Knits. As you work through your WIP bin, keep this goal in mind – this will be the last time you have to tackle an unfinished knits pile. From this day forward, let no project languish unfinished. Apply these two basic ideas to any and every project you are knitting AS SOON AS you start to feel yourself straying to a new project. Stash yarn is still stash yarn until it’s been made into something useable!