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A Crochet Poncho, UFO’s and the Zeigarnik Effect

I have this thing about endings.

I just can’t bear messy endings and unresolved issues. UFO’s, or Unfinished Objects, haunt me with their incomplete and unformed shapes, and loose ends have to be tied or I think about them incessantly.

For most of my life I just thought this was me, endlessly obsessing and worrying about unfinished business. But it turns out that this is a thing. An actual phenomenon.

It’s called the “Zeigarnik Effect”

Bluma Zeigarnik was a Russian psychologist who, in the 1920’s conducted a series of tests where subjects were asked to complete a sequence of tasks, some of which were interrupted and consequently left unfinished. When asked to recall the details of the tasks the subjects were able to remember twice as much information about the unfinished tasks than those they completed, concluding that completion leads to forgetting.

Subsequent tests have been carried out by other psychologists and the general opinion is that;

Your mind is more likely to remember, and keep returning to, an unfinished task.

So the unresolved preys on your mind – it’s a scientific fact which explains why I get so edgy and slightly neurotic when I have too many UFO’s cluttering up my house, and my brain.

There was one project in particular that nagged away at me for quite some time. A project that was slow to develop, in a kind of stop, start, rewind, unwind kind of a way. Some of you may have witnessed the development of this project and read my premature exclamations; “It’s nearly done!” and “it’s coming soon”  and then, like me, reached the conclusion that actually it’s not at all done and possibly might never be.

But I was sooooo close. I made two versions, did the photoshoot and  nearly finished the pattern. Something was just stopping me from shipping this one.

Then, just as it really was almost ready, disaster struck.

A nasty virus wiped out all my projects in development, and with it, hundreds of hours of work.

Potentially this was catastrophic and my slow rolling, ongoing, never ending project was the main casualty. I was devastated and just couldn’t stop thinking about what I had lost. Somehow to lose an unfinished project seems so much more tragic than losing something complete.

But, I listened to those recurring thoughts until they drove me nearly insane and I made a decision to either close the book or take direct action.

I decided to take action.

Sometimes in life you just need to wipe the slate clean, and start again. So I started again with a determination to follow through and make it even better than it was before – and it is, and I’m finally happy with it. But without the incessant nagging of the Zeigarnik Effect I could easily have left this end dangling.

Now it’s done I’d like to share the results with you in my Autumn online Crochet Along which you can join here.

Or you can join in the Real Life Crochet Along this Autumn at Norfolk Yarn, in Norwich, and I can help you create your own beautiful version in lovely Rowan Felted Tweed.

So what UFO’s are keeping you awake at night? And isn’t it time to make a decision and either close the book – or take action and follow through?

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