Q for You: How do you close out a project?

Q for You: How do you close out a project?

This might be a bizarre question, and it’s something I never really thought about until I started knitting sweaters more routinely/seriously. You knit (or crochet, or sew) a thing, and then you’re left with a certain number of parts. The pattern, your notes, the remnant yarn or fabric. I keep every knitting project in its own project bag, and it always comes down to this little puddle of stuff in the bottom of the bag (needles, waste yarn, ball bands …). I always sort of dread putting it all back wherever it goes. I’ve had it ingrained in me that you should always buy more yarn than you need for a sweater because you never know when you might want or need to replace a button band or a cuff, or to patch an elbow, or who knows what. That’s been especially on my mind lately as I unpack the detritus of completed sweaters that I love enough to really imagine having for a long time. I’ve found myself making these little packets for each finished sweater: the last wound skein, my swatch, the tag or ball band with the sweater name written on it and, in the case of my Bellows (the first time I’ve been quite this thorough) a spare button. I’ve been packing them away in ziploc bags — for lack of a similarly protective, less aesthetically offensive solution — and they’re like little souvenirs, or time capsules. Each time I’ve wondered if this is odd or perfectly normal, so that’s my Q for You: How do you close out a project?


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s the knit you couldn’t live without?

45 thoughts on “Q for You: How do you close out a project?

  1. I keep little ziplocs with pretty much the same information you listed–if the sweater is from my handspun I also include my spinning samples along with the finished yarn in case I want to replicate it at some point for another project.

    I also feed the Ravelry knowledge base and write up any project notes or tweaks that might be helpful to future knitters and add them to my Rav project page for the sweater–the good project notes of others have helped me so many times!

  2. This is pretty much the same way I organize my stash (fabric and yarn), at the moment. I think I’ll have to start organizing my remnants this way, too. I’ll just put the final packets in a different location. I’d also totally get a kick out of looking back through these to see what I’ve finished and when.

  3. After a few sweaters, I find the usual advice of buying more than you need counterproductive and annoying. It leaves me with single useless skeins cluttering up my storage. So I started to buy exactly as much yarn as I needed (using estimates from previous sweaters) and working outward to utilize every bit. Ie, start provisionally in the centre of the body and provisionally at the bicep, then finish the torso and sleeves upwards. With the most crucial parts done, I knit the body and sleeves downwards to use up most of the yarn, leaving only a darning amount in scraps. Of course, this only works if the sweater has a bit of stockinette where the provisional CO can be located invisibly. Elbows and buttons can be repaired in similar yarn, no need to keep any large amounts of the original yarn forever.

    For the actual closing out, I have a ritual: weigh remaining yarn to calculate yardage and update my Rav stash accordingly, put any leftover yarn away in its correct tub (I sort yarn by weights), staple one ball band and the swatch to my notebook next to sweater notes, update all information on Rav project page. Put away all notions and contemplate a nice clean breathing project bag, ready to be filled with a fresh project.

    Then, take modelled photos, put them up on Rav and my blog. Finally, click ‘Completed’ on the Rav project page and then enjoy responses from other knitters!

    So I don’t linger on the ‘this project is closing’; I look forward to ‘this sweater is now beginning a new life in the great big world’ :)

  4. My close out yarn goes into a basket and waits there until I have enough leftovers to make mitts or some other accessory. I don’t save ball bands after I’m done knitting but make notes on a card and put it away. I rarely make the same sweater twice and am just happy to have a finished project with no leftovers.

  5. I put the pattern (and any notes) into a page protector in a binder. I put any excess yarn to a bin specifically for finished project yarns, if I have more than 1 skein leftover the over excess get put in the appropriate stash bin.
    I throw away the yarn bands as they serve no purpose to me.
    As for buttons, they go into my huge button storage container. It is beyond excessively organized, so I can very easily find any specific spare button in a few seconds.

  6. Wow, you look so organized. I end of with balls of yarn that just get put back in my stash. Patterns get filed with patterns. But honestly, I never seem to go back to my project written notes. Important notes are in Ravelry. But I think you may have inspired me to get a little more prepared in case I need the yarn. I usually end up with enough extra yarn that I think I will be making some other project with the remains. Does this happen? Not yet:)

  7. Thank you for your amazing blog! I have learned so, so much from your inspiring posts!

    I keep a Finished Object Binder (FOB). Each FO in the FOB has its own plastic page sleeve containing 1) the original pattern, 2) the working photocopy of the pattern with my notes, 3) the ball bands, 4) receipt, 5) the swatch, and 6) end of the last ball (unless it’s too big, then it goes in a zip bag with one of the ball bands a note naming the FO it originated from, and then into my stash with a note in the FO about its existence.

    In my notes (2 above I try to write down new skills learned as my “lessons learned” (a flashback to my days as a project manager), sources of the information (i.e., your post, a YouTube video or a book!). The FOB sounds like a lot of work, but it makes me happy to see my progress, realize what I’ve learned, what worked and didn’t, the yarns I liked, etc. If I’m working a stitch pattern, sometimes I write it on an index card and put it in my WIP project bag for easy reference. When the project is finished these cards go in the page sleeve, too.

    I’ve been doing this for some time now, after my grandma taught me to keep a knitting notebook. Yes, this was in the days before computers and cell phones! ;-) My original spiral notebook contains her hand written mitten pattern (much treasured), a separate page for each yarn purchase with receipt, quantity, and a snippit of yarn, ball band, hand colored charts for two Lopi sweaters, and project notes.

    Although I’m not the prolific knitter she was, it’s a wonderful scrapbook of memories of our knitting time together.

    • This is how I do it–I have a notebook that I work out ideas with before starting projects and then add notes in as I go along, but important steps and modifications or problems or revelations that seem like they’ll be useful for other projects end up on Ravelry. And my needles get shoved back into my tub o’ tools and the yarn gets balled up and goes straight back to the stash. This works for me, but maybe it’s because I’m a newbie and my stash is small and, honestly, I’m just putzing around while I learn. Once I start being able to make stuff that comes out exactly how I hope it will, I’ll start caring enough about its future and will want to take better care of the leftovers.

  8. Amazing is all I can say. NOT organized :) like that but do use up bits for children’s things.

  9. I like the idea of squirreling away some yarn and a spare button (I once had to replace all the buttons on a sweater because I couldn’t find a good match)….but I rely on ravelry and my notes there for most of my knitting information. I’ve been knitting longer than most of my young knitting friends have been alive!!! (That’s a WHOLE lot of finished/gifted projects….the remnants of which have turned in to lots of scappy blankets!!!!)

  10. I *love* the tidying-up part of a project (as the daughter of a librarian, perhaps that’s no wonder!). I love clearing out the bag especially. (Love the ‘breathing’ descriptor in the comments above!)
    I’ve taken to putting the leftover skeinlet – provided it’s not just a nubbin – into a clear tote with the other leftovers from recent projects. Ideal would be a tote for each year of FOs – then I could really see at a glance how much I’ve finished in a year!
    Pattern pages and notes w/ball bands go in a “Finished Projects” binder – that way, if I want to re-knit a piece, I know where to go for the notes and mods.

  11. It is taking me so long to close out projects that I have three main steps: closing out on Ravelry with estimate of yarn used, closing out by blogging about the finished object and styling ideas, then pretty much the same as you, putting extra yarn, the yarn tag in a small ziplock bag for future repairs or care information should I forget them.

  12. I aspire to be that organized, though regretfully, I am not. I usually just put the leftover yarn in my oddball bin and who knows what happens to those buttons!! The next time I finish a sweater, I will have to remember this post and start a new habit for 2015 – thanks for the inspiration and good ideas as always!

    • Same here. Though I admit I enjoy using leftover yarn for small projects, it’s fun to look at your stash and try to figure out what to do with it.

  13. I rely heavily on Ravelry for my closing out process, especially notes and remaining yarn estimates. I mark it complete once I’ve woven in the ends, then I tidy up my tags (I have yearly tags, gift tags, season tags, accessory tags – i love tags), make sure my notes make sense, review the yarn and pattern if I haven’t already, then choose the cover picture.

    I recently put all of my stash into Ravelry which has helped tremendously and I love that my stash keeps track of what yarn I used for my projects. That way, I can tell if I have enough yarn left to either knit a hat (if the fancy strikes me) or toss it into the scraps bin. I have this hazy idea that I’ll knit an eclectic blanket from all of the scraps that’ll commemorate my projects. I don’t worry too much about darning with the same color, mainly because I like the idea of visible mending. If it’s set for hibernation, it goes in the yarn cabinet (recently purchased amazing improvement to my living room). Often it lounges on side tables and on top of empty project bags until I eventually tidy.

    • Same here. Though I admit I enjoy using leftover yarn for small projects, it’s fun to look at your stash and try to figure out what to do with it.

  14. Whoa, you are all more organized than me. I used to keep gauge swatches, but it turns out I never needed them, so I stopped. Now, I keep a huge decorative jar filled with balls of remnant yarn. This along with a jar of straight needles are strategically placed to lure potential new knitters :-) When finishing a project and there is less than a skein of yarn left, I wind it into a ball by hand and it goes in there. If there is more than a skein, back into the stash.

    • Having a decorative vase sounds like a brilliant idea.
      Im gonna go shopping for one now :)
      it’s a beautiful interior piece and its functional. Win-Win situation :)

      • Piggybacking onto the idea of the jar, I bought a lamp that has a clear jar as the base and put small amounts of the yarn I’ve used in it. It’s definitely a conversation piece!

  15. OMG, I have never thought about a closing out a project. I do “try” to keep up my Ravelry project page. I have been looking at my baskets and bags of left over yarn wondering how to organize it all. I keep my patterns in a binder.
    Thank you so much for this post. It has been so inspiring reading what everyone does.I am going to start putting left over yarn with the tag with a copy of the pattern Ina ziplock.

  16. I love keeping the extra yarn left over after a project. You never know when you may need to reseam something or reknit a section so keeping the extra ball or leftover yarn is always a must for me. Waste not want not right?

    At the moment, I have a huge organza bag that i throw everything into and when I need something, i just go back and dig around in it.

    Your zip lock bags are a good way of keeping things organised.
    I have recently been thinking about how to clean up my stash and a sealed bag with labels is not a bad idea. I guess i just have to find one thats big enough to contain all the yarn for one project.

    Thanks for the post :) it’s given me some good ideas for cleaning up my stash

  17. After few years of knitting, I’ve been thinking of ways to organize projects that are finished. I just recently purchased a binder and a package of page protectors. Each project will have two page protectors. The first one will contain a pattern and written notes. The second one will contain the swatch, yarn band(s)/tag(s), yarn sample(s), buttons, etc. The leftover of skein will go into a ziplock bag with a project name on it and then will go into FO bin.

    If the FO is a clothing piece for my wardrobe, the yarn samples will be used as a colour palette. Each will be wrapped around a small cardboard and placed in “my wardrobe colour palette” ziplock bag. So whenever I shop for either clothing or yarn for my wardrobe, I use my colour palette to make sure the items I buy will work well with my wardrobe. For example, I’m planning to knit a scarf and I want it to go well with my knitted multicoloured sweater, I could choose a colour from the sweater or a neutral one that looks nice with the sweater.

    I enjoy reading your posts. They are full of wonderful ideas and inspirations. Thank you!

  18. I LOVE knitting socks! When I’m finished with a pair, I knit a mini stocking ornament with any leftover yarn. In the event I need to repair a pair of my socks, I know exactly where I’ll find enough yarn to do the job-my mini ornament collection;-)

    • Love this idea! and Yoinks! I’ve stolen it. I don’t knit a lot of socks, but would like to have more of ’em in my wardrobe, so there’s a ton of sock yarn waiting to become socks just .. over.. there. And who doesn’t love the little sock ornaments?

  19. First, I do a little “I’m done!” dance, then I sit on the couch and smooth and fluff whatever I’ve finished to admire it. Next, I put away needles and notions where they belong, put any partial skeins in the giant zipper bag with all the others, and weigh the project to see how much yarn I really used. I update the Rav project page, putting any construction or pattern notes there for myself and any future knitters, as I have gotten lots of help from others that way. The project gets a swim in wool wash, a gentle squeeze, and then patted into shape on foam drying tiles. Finally I show off the FO to my husband who looks up, says “nice,” takes a picture if I ask, and goes back to whatever he was doing. For real satisfaction and compliments I take it to Friday Night Knitting and/or a Bay Lakes Knitting Guild meeting to show it off. I don’t keep ballbands or swatches or patterns all scribbled with notes, I use my Ravelry project page for that, and I’m not much of a pre-planner either, I knit what strikes my fancy and, for the most part, what I can knit out of stash.

  20. Wow. This is way organized. I end up using plain stocking stitch swatches as coasters (or I end up needing to unravel it to finish the project)… the leftover yarn gets shoved in a drawer to be used for scrap projects or swatches for other things… I write a grocery list on the back of the pattern then it goes in the recycling bin… Worst. Knitter. Evah.

    Actually, at least since I started designing my own patterns a bit I’ve been more precious about the swatches. They get folded up in a paper bag in a drawer.

  21. I love the idea of a little project “time capsule”! Usually I just end up winding up the extra yarn and throwing it into my stash bag, but after all that work, I would love a way to save and remember the yarn and notions I’ve used. There’s been more than one occasions when this idea would have been soo helpful!

  22. Erm..I throw leftover yarn back in the stash, put my tools away and maybe take a photo for ravelry. Anything else that’s left in the project bag gets binned. I might make a note on the pattern or Rav if I made any successful mods for fit. That’s about it.

  23. WOW. You people are ORGANIZED. I’m so so impressed. I can’t even get myself to put things on Rav (which I think is really bad – but it’s the photos.. I hate taking photos or having photos taken). My close out is a little notebook where I catalog my projects each year, name of pattern, yarn used, how much and what needle size. My scraps are organized by weight in ziploc space bags and that’s as far as it gets. Full skeins goes back into stash to be used for something else. I make so many things and as the years go by I feel like I accumulate too much stuff around it that I never end up needing. I even stopped printing out the patterns. So now it goes. Less stuff means less stress for me.

  24. Wow, this makes me feel like a slacker. I put a small nugget ball (anything smaller than 3 inch diameter) into small ziplock that holds leftovers if (about 15 years worth in a gallon baggie since I remove yarn once garment has been worn to shreds or outgrown(kid’s stuff)). Bigger skeins rejoin stash. Extra button goes into shoebox that is full of buttons (not organized, just a glorious pile). Swatches live in a glass jar.

    There are usually some notes in ravelry. I recycle the pattern unless it is a print pattern that I have bought and don’t own electronic copy; about 3 years ago I had a stack of patterns about a foot tall, that’s when I started to toss, especially since I don’t usually reknit, especially not in the same yarn.

    And garment gets worn. The life cycle of my cardigans is anywhere from 2-5 years (I usually have only 4-5 and I wear them every day even in the summer so they wear out relatively fast) and experience shows that I don’t need to keep more than a small ball of yarn for mending and a button. After a few years the cardigans tire, as in the yarn turns limp at some point and there is just no reviving. Which, while it is a bit sad, is also great since then I get to knit another one. I tend to knit myself about 1.5 cardigans per year and toss 1 or 2 so it is a perfect cycle. My husband wears his more rarely (he also likes hoodies) so he still has 12, 8, and 5 year old garments. My daughter gets one or two cardigans per year since she is growing.

    During the past year I have been practicing visible decorative mending :) I kept all kinds of stuff when I was newer to knitting, after more than 15 years I know my habits and I toss more. And I have been crocheting a blanket with my leftovers, I love revisiting yarns from long ago, and I remember exactly which garment was which (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/–anu/scrap-blanket) :)

  25. you are definitely way more thorough than i. i simply long the pattern in numerous places on line. the scraps rarely get saved. they tend to become other small projects or parts of other projects. i just hate to have it sitting around wasting away. sock yarn i tend to save a bit of in a jar for darning at a later time.

  26. Impressed! I have never been this organised with the remainders of a project but I too have been thinking along these lines of late. ‘Back in the day’……….. when I completed something I was very happy about, be it a sewing, knitting or home project, I would photograph and keep it in a beautiful fabric covered album with all the notes and fabric samples.
    Like your idea much better Karen!!

  27. I only wish I had started my FOB earlier in my knitting, but I’m happy I have one now. For each finished object, I have a dated copy of the pattern (and the source) complete with notations (the original goes into a plastic page protector and into a separate binder), all notes and measurements, needle sizes, ball bands, 2 extra buttons, swatch, extra yarn, lessons learned and the source of the lessons (books, online, YouTube, etc. Everything goes into a zip-locked bag and I joyfully clean out my knitting bag in preparation for the next project!

  28. Pingback: What’s new (and new again) | Fringe Association

  29. I love to close out projects. If I have more than a tiny ball left, I’ll wind some off into a small “butterfly” for mending, and this and the swatch (if there is one) go into a large ziploc bag with other yarn to be used for mending if needed. The rest of the ball with the ball band goes back into my stash, which I’ve roughly organized by weight and then fiber content. I put the needles and notions back where they belong and the empty project bag goes back on the shelf, or I prep the supplies for my next project.

    I make notes in Ravelry and then recycle or put the paper pattern into my scrap paper box. I used to save all of them but now most are saved digitally and I rarely reknit things. If it is a pattern printed by a company I save it and it gets filed in my pattern binder.

    Another thought–I save some of the prettier ball bands and use them to decoupage plain boxes or cardboard tubes to hold knitting needles.

  30. This is a great idea. I never know what to do with my little project bag and I similarly just let them hang around for a while until I manage to get the energy to throw everything back into my stash. I love how organized you are! I just don’t know where to store those bits and pieces since I’ve got such a small space (and so much stash!). I’d definitely like to make a habit like this, though!

  31. You’re going to hate this but I throw it all away. Don’t save patterns, extra yarn – nothing. Done is done and there has never been a pattern I’m making more than once. Patterns can’t be passed on to others as that’s an infringement of copyright and I don’t make scrappy/use up stash projects. There is too much new to explore to start warehousing little bags of odds and ends.

  32. I’m afraid I rush on to the next project and am not this organized, though it is appealing to think I could be!

  33. Pingback: Q for You: What thrills you? | Fringe Association

  34. Pingback: Q for You collected: Yarn management! | Fringe Association

Comments are closed.