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Inspiration Board : UFOs

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Crafters often have a collection of "UFOs"—UnFinished Objects. Some, like me, amass about as many of these as they do completed projects. Maybe more. Sometimes I give up on a project that's too complicated or time-consuming; other times I get sick of the technique/material. But most of the time I just find something more fun I want to make and I flake out.

I'm going to show you a couple of my projects in the hope that publicly embarrassing myself may kick my butt into finishing one (or two?) of them, or giving up altogether. It would certainly be nice to make some space in my UFO bin for the next doomed craft. Maybe it will inspire some of you to do the same.

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I challenged myself to knit this cabled tote bag in college. I even made most of the shoulder strap! I just have to line it and stitch it all together, but I'd rather knit quick winter caps.

1 I challenged myself to knit this cabled tote bag in college. I even made most of the shoulder strap! I just have to line it and stitch it all together, but I'd rather knit quick winter caps.

This was obviously a sampler quilt of some kind. I like most of the blocks, but it's a little intense to complete a full-sized quilt. Maybe a wall-hanging?

2 This was obviously a sampler quilt of some kind. I like most of the blocks, but it's a little intense to complete a full-sized quilt. Maybe a wall-hanging?

My MOM finished this quilted needle-keeper for me. It keeps my needles, plus a sparkly beaded choker that I did not finish (still on the needle).

3 My MOM finished this quilted needle-keeper for me. It keeps my needles, plus a sparkly beaded choker that I did not finish (still on the needle).

Three Christmases have gone by and this poor punch-needle Santa still just has half a sky and some gloves.

4 Three Christmases have gone by and this poor punch-needle Santa still just has half a sky and some gloves.

So here's the pièce de résistance—a project I started in middle school and continued working on through high school: It's a hand-painted Periodic Table of the Elements quilt. (I majored in Physics in college. Yeah.) I was, obviously, a huge nerd, and I still am. So I'm having a hard time parting with a nerdy sciencey quilt, as horrifying as it is.

I'd love to finish it for my son, Jack, so any suggestions are welcomed (be nice!). I obviously have to rip out and restitch, but I'll take any thoughts on what I can add or what I can do about that weirdo canvas fabric in those AWFUL colors. Let me know what you think.

Now go finish some projects!

Comments (15)

  • OMG! You have to finish the cable knit bag! Cable knitting is no joke, and you're almost there! You only have the easy part left. Buckle down, pull up your boot straps, chin up, focus, try hard, you can do it, there's a lot of fish in the sea and about 5 other phrases of encouragement.

    -Shannon

  • I think your Periodic Table Quilt is fabulous! As long as you are planning on having to tear it out and restitch, maybe a thin white border between each of the squares would break up the blocks of color and brighten it up? It's a wonderful idea. If you find the courage to tackle this project again, it would be wonderful if you could share it with everyone! (There are many crafty nerds out there. I can't imagine a better baby quilt for the sons or daughters of scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. than a periodic table of elements quilt. Maybe requests for a published pattern will be just what you need to get back to the project?)

  • I am not a quilter, just an admirer of quilts so I don't have any advice on the best way to undertake the completion of your project. However, I have to say that your periodic table quilt is amazingly inspired! You started this in junior high?! No wonder you have the job you do.

    Don't be so hard on yourself; that is going to be one truly fantastic quilt. Nice work!!

  • I am also a fellow physics graduate/nerd and my son (15) recently pulled out a periodic table of elements place-mat from his preschool years. Still fun to quiz each other at dinner. Maybe a pillow would be a fun way to display your handiwork?

  • Crafter Comment:

    Shannon - Thank you! You know what ... I am going to finish it. Pulling it out and seeing all the work that went into it in that photo made me realize it needs some final love. I'll post about it here when it's done.

    Katie - Thank YOU! The thin borders in between is a GREAT idea. I did not think of that. I'm going to keep this on/near my work table and revisit it. It's just too cool (or not cool) to throw away ... and I think it would be neat to have something that was (almost) a lifetime in the making. A pattern (plus stencils?) is totally something I could market to my nerd friends.

    LOVE all your ideas! Thank you!
    -Kirsten

  • Love this so much. (I am a crafty nerd too.) You may need more "weirdo canvas" because elements 104-112 have by now been given names... and what happened to the rest of the lanthanides and actinides? But this could be a chance to bring in more colors. I think this would look all pseudo-Amish and fabulous on a solid black background.

  • Crafter Comment:

    April - thanks for the compliment! My mom is a super-quilter and as a little girl I wanted to be just like her, so I translated the quilting into my own favorite thing at the time. It makes me laugh now, but I'm so happy to have it.

    Sue - thought about the pillow, but it would be one crazy enormous pillow. It's probably going to end up a wall-hanging, which could be neat in his room when Jack is no longer a baby and more a "kid." So happy to meet another nerd crafter. :)

    Harriet - believe it or not, I saved the yardage of the weirdo canvas. So I CAN adjust according to the scientific advancements that have been made. I also might test bleaching or otherwise distressing the fabric to take the eye-stabbing colors down a notch. The lanthanides and actinides are in a ziploc bag, not yet sewn together (SO PSYCHED that you noticed!). And now I'm loving the Amish black idea. Will have to look at both black and white. Thank you!!

  • Wow that periodic table quilt (in the making) is pretty awesome! Have you thought about instead of making a quilt, it could be attached to a canvas w/ mod podge as a mixed media art piece?

  • Its comforting to learn that I'm not alone in amassing what can seem like an overwhelming quantity of UFOs!!! Seems the brain is often quicker than the hands when it comes to crafts! This post is inspiring me to work on some of my own UFO backlog!

  • You have totally inspired me. I just picked up an old knitting project that I've had on the back burner because of a mistake. I'm determined to finish it. I absolutely love the idea of the periodic table, let your nerd flag fly!

  • [...] UFOs – 1 freebie(s)? [...]

  • Here is the quilt pattern I was referring to. It is called Vintage Baby Quilt by yoyo mama designs. You can do a web search and you will find it on several sites. This URL shows you an up close look at how it is done. http://rainytuesdaymornings.blogspot.com/2011/01/vintage-baby-blanket.html

    If you decide to make it, try holding down the squares with fabric spray mount as basting alone didn't really hold them well for me. They slipped around a bit when I was sewing them. But you probably have access to a better sewing machine than I do.

  • The purse must be finished. It's beautiful, color and design, and you're so close!! The punch needle Santa is never going to happen. Give it a swift and painless goodby.

    My hint for getting these "hangers-on" finished is to work on it for only 15 minutes each day. Set a kitchen timer and when it rings, you're done for the day. It doesn't seem like much time, but if you do it consistently, you'll finish much more than you ever thought possible. This is how I get my boring needlepoint backgrounds done.

  • Hi, I love the periodic table quilt. I was wondering if you overdyed it in black tea (antiquing?) might tone down the colours. Maybe borders in some sort of antiqued fabric

    I have 2 fabric maps of the world for my boy's room that I am going to make curtains of. (they are meant to be quilted) They are bright primary colours, and it has taken me so long that I think some of the borders have changed! Oh well. I want to do a border along the bottom with the top 10 of different things (mountains with heights, rivers with lengths, etc) but so far I have done nothing.

    Alas, I too have a large ufo pile.

  • I love the nerdy periodic table quilt!! It's not a bad thing to hold on to nerdy stuff :) Post pictures when you finish the quilt please!! It looks like it's going to be amazing!!

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