A declaration of UFOs and WISPs

A declaration of UFOs and WISPs

Just a quick note for those who are participating in the Take it Further challenge and  having trouble tracking the comments coming in about this challenge you can subscribe to them in your reader. There is a small “subscribe to comments” button in the side bar. 

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Hilary Metcalf of Textileplay has posted a tutorial on how to import the colour scheme into photoshop in order to develop a design.

Another reader suggested that DMC colours should be posted with the colour scheme if anyone wants to blog this feel free. Leave a comment and I will happily link to yo.

Someone else dropped me an email about font size on this blog which I have no control over but I will tell you a tip:

On a PC hold down the control (Ctrl) key and press +  to increase the font size on your screen
Ctrl – decreases font size
Ctrl 0 returns font size to normal

On a Mac you use the Command key to do the same thing key. The command key is the key with the small apple icon on it
Command +  increases font size
Command – decreases font size
Command 0 returns font size to normal

On with the declaration of UFO’s and Wisps

I have always divided projects into UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) and WISPs (Works in Slow Progress). For me a UFO is something that you have not touched in 12 months or more. In my clean out I did find some UFOs

UFO 1: This is a hand pieced scrap quilt I started over 20 years ago. What happened to make me stop working on it? I discovered crazy quilting! I think it is worth finishing if only because there is so much hand work in it already! As you can see most of the middle is done and I was going to have a large surround in the half hexagon pattern. The Stars I think were going to be the outer edge before a border. Either that or they are another quilt which I have totally forgotten about.

UFO 2: The next UFO is this historical sampler “Band of many colours” designed by Eileen Bennett. It is on such fine linen that it is now a killer on the eyes. As much as I love the design  I have real trouble just following a pattern. It’s not that I can’t follow a pattern it’s just that I always want to change things. I don’t know why I do it but it is something I do. I always get a little way into a project someone else has designed and invariably have to change it. So I might half follow along for a while then add some designs from Linn Skinner’s books and add other elements as my fancy takes me. It’s the only way it will get done!

UFO 3: This is a cover for a file. It is a cross stitch design that I am making up along the way. I know I had plans for the middle and these are probably note in visual journal somewhere but like doing canvas stitches on linen. I think it will become a bit of an experiment with stitches and although the fabric is Lynda I will probably move away from cross stitch and work some canvas stitches in the middle. I will dig back through my visual journals however as I seem to remember I was mad keen on Roman Mosaics when I started this.

Those are the only UFOs I have. I was emailed asking how do I organize my UFOs. Well to be honest I don’t organise them as such as I don’t have many. I find if something is in my face I do it. So the things that I am working on go on the wall in front of my desk. If there is too much stuff on there then its time to get finishing!

This is what the wall looks like today.


Many readers think that my WISPs are just another term for UFOs but they are not in my mind as some things just take a long time to stitch while others languish forgotten. Often a WISP is simply a slow cloth I think if you have worked on something in the last 12 months it is not yet a UFO but something that is picked up and put down at various times.

WISP 1: This project is a good example of what I mean. I started this sampler when I was writing the Sumptuous Surfaces class. The shell section is one of the samples I used to illustrate some points in the class. Now I wrote this class in July/August last year and have not finished the sampler but I know I will at 6 months old for me it is not a yet a UFO just a slow finish.

WISP 2: The other sample I have on the go is a small one of odd stitches and patterns I wanted to try out. I use these odd samplers to experiment. They are more doodle cloths than anything else. When I see or think of a stitch that I want to try I simply add a row. They are not designed samplers as such but simply grow with time and I use them to refer to when I am short on ideas. As items they are more about process than a finished sample. As you can see there is not too much more area to cover so it will be finished soon.

WISP/Current project 3 and 4: As you can perhaps already tell I rotate projects picking up things as I feel like working on them or if I am writing lessons I put down my personal projects and work on items I need to use to illustrate various design points made in classes. In many ways this sort of stitching falls under the category of ‘required to do’ These are two samples that I have been stitching for a class on colour theory applied to embroidery. They don’t look very interesting but they are in my ‘required to do’ pile. The first is a colour wheel I am stitching.

The second is a grid I am working on mixing colours with thread.

WISP 5: The biggest WISP of all is this series of diamond shaped blocks which I first spoke about in 2006! I actually wrote about the it back in April but I have done a few more since then and as you can see in the photo of my desk areas I have 5 diamond blocks on my wall that are embroidered, but are waiting to be beaded and have buttons etc added to them.

I have been working on these just not blogging about it. I must admit to feel very frustrated about this project as I had wanted to get this quilt done by now. Last year it felt as if every time I had some time to stitch on this project something came along to prevent me. This was just a feeling it does not necessarily mean it was so but sometimes subjectivity takes over! It just felt that way. Last year I had life throw me a few curlies, which is probably the reason for the frustration and feeling the need to start the year with a good clean out.

This is how the quilt will be set. As you can see all the blocks are pieced and I have worked on good few I want to complete it this year.

WISP 6: Of course I have the charm quilt on the go. Since this project is hand pieced it will probably take me years to do but I am quite happy to let it be that way. Since I started it late November and last wrote about it on the December 14 last year I feel it is simply something that is in slow progress … it will take its own time to be made as it is a slow cloth.

Other Projects:
As I have explained before I sit down about once a year and go on a crazy patchwork piecing a binge. This means that I always have a block to work on. The basket that contains these blocks regularly goes up and down. I don’t see them as UFO’s as I eventually work through them as I pick them over. When I get sick of them its time for another piecing binge.

I have a number of 8 inch blocks that are worked and embellished which I was going to turn into a quilt but I have been turning them into teaching samples. There are some on wall in the image of my desk area, in the image above in the top right hand corner. These are finished I just have them up on the all at the moment and I thought you might like to know what happens to those 8 inch blocks I post from time to time.

I have another stack of pieced blocks which will either be teaching samples like these or I might assemble them into a quilt I am not sure yet. I don’t feel particularly pressured about them and am quite happy to pick some more up and stitch them adding to pile.

Every now and them I feel like breaking out and working a really bright block in jewel tones which I do. These are of all sorts of sizes and as they accumulate I think may I piece them together in a larger quilt. As you can see they are blocks of different sizes but it might make an interesting talking point if nothing else. Once again I think of them as teaching samples so am not too worried about them. I am happy to just keep adding to them as the mood for a different and brighter colour scheme strikes me and then when it feels right turn them into something ‘finished’. The the process will probably start all over again.

The other thing I pick up and put down is scrumbling or freeform crochet. These scrumbles will eventually be made up into a jacket of some sort (I think) basically when the weather turns cool I like to vary things a bit with a crochet hook but not in heat wave conditions in an Aussie summer!

I do have some other sewing tasks. Last month I cut out some shirts that I need for work. Christmas meant they were put to one side. I have 3 cut out waiting to be made up. I also have a denim jacket half made. I won’t be blogging this sort of stuff as I think people will find it boring. I can’t believe that anyone would find this at all of interest but I do quite a bit of sewing one way and another.

In the Future:
I am sure there are those with longer lists and those who have shorter lists but that is mine for the moment. I hope to clear the decks of these and then start a few projects. There are three large projects that have been brewing away in my visual journals for years and have yet to be realised. Briefly there is a particular quilt I want to start and I will talk about that when I actually start it.

The second project I have actually started as I thought of during the 100 details for 100 days challenge. I thought it would be fun to produce a CD of 1001 stitch combinations and embellishments for Crazy Quilters with how to work the stitch combinations clearly described with photographs illustrating them. I figured I could make a play on 1001 nights. I am sure people would like it and I have been working on the idea on and off for a little while now. In fact it was another point of frustration for me last year. I have not been blogging this as I am thinking in terms of selling a CD but a few teasers might appear here as I get closer to the finish line.

The third large project is that I want to document more of the stitches I have collected, get them online or perhaps put them out as a CD. In reality this project might have to wait until next year as if I achieve what I want to this year I think this is really pushing it time wise. Particularly since I have taken on more responsibilities at work but I will see how things pan out.

Through out the year there is bound to be some embarrassing confessions from the stash. Is there anyone else doing this sort of thing? Are you setting goals this year of working projects, de-cluttering and clearing the stash? Leave a comment and let me know. It might be fun to watch each other.


  1. I am so inspired by your color wheel that I am starting one on black muslin. I own a hand dyed yarn and threads company and after five years of the company in my home, I am getting a handle on the business and personal sides of my studio. This is the year to bring on my personal interpretation of all of the fiber arts I know. A dedicated sewing area and storage is almost finished, and I think I will weigh my items to start as well!

    Sharon, thank you so very much for your amazing dedication and generous spirit with all that you know. I have been looking for you and your community for a number of years now and I am most thrilled and impressed!

  2. hallo,
    waw! what a beautiful things are you making!! I like WISP/Current project 3 and 4 they are ‘modern’ and i like this kind of stitching very much!
    I’m not a quilter anymore.. I have not time enough.. (laugh) I’m looking forward to see more of your projects finished…
    Hugs Marleen
    ps: sorry for my English, I know its not very good..

  3. Actually, Sharon, my participation in the TIF challenge has all to do with sewing clothing and very little to do with embroidery or embellishment, except that I find your blogs very inspiring.

    I do very little quilting these days, but one of the biggest ‘charms’ for me of a charm quilt is seeing the artistic and color surprises that show up accidently as the fabrics and blocks are sewn together and then viewed from various distances.

  4. Love, love, love the color wheel…look forward to the class being offered
    Look forward to the CD as well…I will be doing a
    WISP challenge this year, but I will weigh what I finish I have been on
    holiday for a week and have been tackling the 10
    quilts that I have started. It will be interesting to see how many get finished this year. Thanks once more for letting us share in your life’s work.
    p.s. I love making my clothes as well…

  5. Count me in as one of those who is going to get my sewing room in shape this year! I got a good start while I was off for 4 days and now that I’m back at work I’ll have to wait until the weekend but I will complete this task!

    Oh and now I’m taking crochet classes and have joined a group of ladies to motivate each other so do I see more UFO’s and WISP’s in the making.

    And yes I’d love to see a CD of stitches.

  6. Yes! Yes! Please!
    I would love to see a CD of Sharon’s crazy quilt stitches. I cut and pasted to make a copy of the 100 days, but it is cumbersome. I wanted to cut and paste the 52 weeks of stitches, but it was too hard to cut out all the participant information. We can all find embroidery stitch dictionaries, but there are few resources on combined stitches for crazy quilting.
    You go!

  7. Actually, I’d love to see the shirts when you have finished them. I have several clothing articles in my stash of UFOs and WISPs. And truth be told, even though I have an idea for the first challenge you set us, I’m more interested in joining you in finishing up and destashing. I will see if I can somehow combine the two, or combine all the challenges somehow into a coherent project that will be done at the end of the year. I’ll have to see if I can borrow a camera and list my projects.

  8. Wonderful of you to show all these, Sharon!

    My question is: how do you find the initial enthusiasm you had when you first started a long term project, like the charm quilt, when you have moved so far along artistically since then? How can it not feel like drudgery once “the archangel has gone out of it”?

    I really enjoyed the picture of your workspace. We both have laptops and cutting mats on our desks…love that kinship!!!!

  9. Wow! I, too, am impressed by your color experiments. Please, if you have the time, post updates on them or explain them more fully.

    I’m making an effort to clean out my various stashes and not accumulate any new ones so your posts have been inspiring to me.

    p.s. I’d totally buy a CD or book from you. I’m not into quilting and just recently into embroidery but your stitch explanations and accompanying pictures are excellent.

  10. I’m glad you differentiated between UFO and WISP. Some of my UFOs are really WISPs but I have been viewing them as UFOs, which makes me feel angry with myself for not finishing them. Will I clear out my stash this year? Heck no! Love the color wheel UFOs. I’ve been thinking of ordering a pre cut kit from Jinny Beyer that showcases all of her pallette fabrics. It looks very much like a color wheel and may help me pick fabrics when it is hung in my sewing area.

  11. Loved to see your sewing projects too! I’ve just started back into sewing clothes – need some decent fitting suits and have been far more successful in making them than in buying them. Store bought never fits and I’m fed up with that. Plus I enjoy the hand sewing part of garment making as much as all the other hand sewing options – needlepoint, quilting, embroidery, etc. Do you sew purely for utilitarian reasons or do put much of your artistic talent into these clothes as well?

  12. I spent a lot of last month reorganizing and decluttering, as I have new furniture to put things in. I put all of my projects in one place, the quilts were organized by stage they are in, and all of my stash had a major overhaul. I am now pleased to say I have only 6 bags of stuff to go through (smallish bags) and it will be complete. I refuse to be in a rush and on deadlines this year, so I decided to just open ub the cabinet, grab the project that moves me and go with it. I don’t want to go crazy trying to make a list and rush. Besides that I am working on learning new techniques and expanding my creativity this year so I am making time for both. I am afraid that I would never have the courage to weigh my fabrics, my friend and I were talking about that today, and she said she would be way to frightened for that too. But hey, her stash is 3 times the size of mine ;)!

  13. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the different things you’re working on. With all your input on TAST this past year you haven’t shown us so much of your own personal projects and I’ve missed seeing pieces like these – more please! I especially love the colour wheel and am intrigued to see how it will look when finished.

  14. I am satisfied to see you have made use of some vertical surface for display.
    A little bit of nonsence to tickle the homour bone works for some of us and I love to day dream with the fairies.
    A woman with a circus performing daughter can’t be all serious.
    I think crazy patchwork is one of the most romantic forms of stitchery I see.
    I guess your focus is on the job in hand and this enables you to be an initiator rather than a participator like the rest of us.

    I have a collection of UFOs that has grown since starting to read blogs.
    So I started a “SEW what’s on the Wall” comand in my journel to focus the mind on the work, an idea found via this blog. I have found this has helped to avoid distractions.
    Perhaps I now need to close the curtains, and limit the nonsence in the work room??

  15. I found your definitions of UFO’s vs. WISP’s SO helpful! Now I realize that I don’t have that many UFO’s after all; I merely have more WISP’s than I thought! Seriously though, this post of yours has been truly helpful. You’ve given me new ways to categorize my stuff, and not solely for the purpose of rationalization. You’ve shed new light and changed my perspective. When I go through my things again it will be with new eyes and kinder thoughts.

    In the last few days I have realized that last year was my year for clearing out. This year will be primarily for exploring new ground. (Check with me in June to see how I’m faring!)

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