New Term Tuesday: The Difference Between UFO’s and WIP’s (And All Manner In Between)

For today’s post, I thought I’d explain some abbreviations that you will find used in crochet and knitting circles.

The first is what is termed as a “UFO.” 

I have this theory that yarn and Sci Fi are magnetic to each other for some reason.  Perhaps it’s the popcorn. 

However, though many of us yarnies (see below) are Sci Fi geeks too, a UFO is, in yarn geek terms, an “Un-Finished Object.”

Usually this term is applied to a project that has been started, but has been set aside.  It lends to the “unknown” feeling induced by it’s Sci Fi counterpart, since a yarn related UFO has not been witnessed in its final or complete state yet.  As such, it could be “unrecognizable” to others.  It might even get lost in a closet or drawer and never become an FO (a finished object).

One of my UFO's. I doubt you'll have any idea what this really is until I finally write about it in an advanced technique article. It's stuffed in a bag somewhere, maybe already packed for the move.

However a yarn related UFO still has some sort of connection to the knowable world in that at least it’s creator knows what it is supposed to be.  If said UFO does get lost in the closet (or under the bed or a variety of other places crochet can migrate to in its maker’s home) and is later discovered, but the knowledge of what that item is supposed to be(come) has since been lost or forgotten, it’s label is now demoted to the realm of UO or URO: an Un-Recognizable (or Un-Recognized) Object.  “I started this at some point, but now I don’t know what the heck it was supposed to be.”  It happens to the best of us.  If recognition does indeed sink in, it can then go back to its UFO status.

This 5 foot tapestry project for my mother-in-law took me about 10 years to complete. The amount of times its status alternated between "UFO" and "WIP" might have actually endangered the space-time continuum.

In contrast to UFO is the term “WIP.”  A WIP is a piece that is a “work in progress.”  This means it is actively being worked on.  Or at least thought about in the forefront of the mind, such as in the case of “I’m stuck, I haven’t figured it out, but I haven’t put it aside just yet.”  The term also lends to the air of “whipping” something together, but mainly denotes progression of the creation process (as opposed to stagnation in the corner of a closet).

The amount of times a single project can go back and forth between being a UFO or a  WIP is indeed infinite. 

“Yarnies” (a term I used above) should be mostly self-explanatory.  A yarnie is someone who works with yarn.  The term usually refers to the crochet or knit modalities, and generally with a little obsession tossed in.  In other words a yarnie is a yarn geek – the person you see at the store petting all the Tribbles, what my husband calls my yarn stash. Much like the Klingons, you would think my stash was his mortal enemy.

Ahhh, and now I think we have found insight into the Sci Fi – Yarn connection! 

Another “yarnie” interpretation might borrow from the circus term “carnie” to indicate someone who knows and loves yarn so well, that they can coax it into amazing feats of entertainment.

So there you have it – new jargon for your crochet reference!

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )



Filed under crochet, New Term Tuesday

14 responses to “New Term Tuesday: The Difference Between UFO’s and WIP’s (And All Manner In Between)

  1. Great roundup of some of the acronyms that are often seen floating around and certainly confused me when I first started reading crochet blogs. I’ve also seen several people lately mentioning WIM (works in mind, things you’re thinking about working on but haven’t actually begun yet).

  2. Enjoyed this post! In early crochet forums, I used to also see “PIGs” more often than I do now: Projects In Grocery bags. It gives a UFO a special kind of languishing feeling.
    I thought of a new one the other day: WIP-ABLE (my Works In Progress Are Beyond Life Expectancy).

    • That’s awesome Vashti – I have not heard the PIG reference before. Thanks for adding that. Admittedly, it makes me want a pig shaped crochet shopping bag! I can just see my wide handled shopping pig now, filled with UFOs. LOL! OK, I’m doing it. Not sure how long it’ll take me, but I think I need to make one.

      I have used (hand raised) shopping bags to separate projects at times, but largely prefer Ziplocs so I can see through the bag and determine whether that UFO will become a WIP again just by looking at it. In fact, I have a whole “filing” system of Ziplocs filled with UFOs and WIMs as Kathryn mentioned above. I use those fabric bins in a bookcase and pull them out like file drawers with Ziplocs lined inside like folders. And then there are the suitcases…. Maybe I’ll take some photos.

      Thanks as always for dropping by Vashti!

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  4. Beatriz

    thanks to you i have learned something new today, thanks a lot.

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  7. My mother recently passed on a bunch of her scrap stash to me. Her scrap stash has been used to teach 12 little girls to finger knit, make toys for kids and started a yarn bombing project. It included a few UFO’s. One is a pig that I hope to put legs on and give to my daughter. My problem with all my many UFO’s is I forget what hook or pattern i was using! I really need to make a crochet journal.

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