The Fine Art of Finishing Things


It’s so easy to start new projects; finishing things can be harder. Here are some tips to get you through.

There’s something about the chill in the air in the mornings these days.

It makes me want to make things.

Maybe more importantly, it makes me want to finish things.

I am a great starter. I usually have tons of ideas and lots of projects on the go.

Finishing I am not so great at.

So I decided to declare a finishing week (or at least a couple of days). Why it's sometimes hard to finish things and what to do to get your projects done.

I knit a little bit on a panel of a blanket and sewed the pieces together. That one is getting donated to the Welcome Blanket project.

I pulled out my “summer sweater” (actually started last summer), sewed on the second sleeve and added a little crochet to the neckline. Done in less than an hour.

I finished sewing the sleeves on another sweater (which deserves its own post because I started it in 2009) and knit a little on the neckline and that was done, too.

And I finished knitting a sock that I started earlier this year (the first sock has been done at least a year, but socks are like that).

Then I couldn’t find the next project on my finishing list, so I started crocheting a vest instead.

You can’t win them all.

Why Aren’t You Finishing Things?

Why it's sometimes hard to finish things and what to do to get your projects done.
I mean, why wouldn’t you finish things when you get this reaction?

I think it’s somewhat common for creative people to have problems finishing things. Not all of them, of course. There are process people and there are product people, those who really want to have the thing rather than being mostly interested in making the thing.

I like having the finished objects and getting to wear and enjoy what I make, but I know I have other hangups that can keep me from finishing. Maybe you do, too.

So the first step is to ask yourself what stops you from finishing projects (in general or this project in particular).

Is it boredom? That’s second sock syndrome, or second anything you need two of syndrome, or finishing a quilt top but never binding it because that’s tedious.

Is it fear? If you don’t know how to do short rows to shape your sock heel or how to sew in a zipper, that can definitely derail a project. Or maybe you’re afraid it won’t fit or look as good as it did in your imagination. Fear is a big freezer, for sure.

Did you mess something up and get frustrated? Sometimes I put projects in time out when I make a mistake (like the wonky sleeve on the above-mentioned summer sweater) and they can stay there for years before I decide to fix them. Maybe you do that, too.

How to Get Yourself to Finish Things

How you get past what stops you from finishing is probably pretty individual, but having a name for why you stop projects can be really helpful.

It might be that, like me, you need to set aside some time where you finish as many projects as you can. It might be good to do this once a month or once a quarter to get some in-progress projects off your mind and out of your creative space.

Challenge yourself to see how many projects you can finish in a week or a month.

Or tell yourself you can’t start anything new until you have finished one or several other projects.

It could help to remember how excited you were when you started the project, or to visualize what it will be like to have and use the finished thing. Those good feelings might carry you past the boredom of the last bits.

You might benefit from reminding yourself that unfinished objects are clutter and they need to be dealt with, either by finishing them or passing the materials on to someone else.

Try challenging your crafty friends to a finishing race, or have a crafternoon where people bring almost-finished projects and work on them over chit-chat and wine.

Or watch a favorite movie to help pass the time while you fix that wonky seam or do the last steps on a project. Or make seeing a movie, going on a hike or doing something else special the reward for finishing a project.

Do you have any special tricks to get motivated for finishing things? Or are you one of those people who doesn’t have trouble finishing? I’d love to hear your ideas.

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