Reducing the stash … the struggle is real

What makes the acquisition and accumulation of large quantities of beautiful, soft, squishy yarn so addictive? For me, it’s the promise of what could be, the potential to create for others and sometimes because, well, it’s pretty!  

I’ll admit that when I hear the word “addict”, I don’t want it associated with me. According to Wikipedia – addiction is defined as “a brain disease that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences”.

Can I get on board with that definition?  Sure!  I have an insane addiction to all things involving yarn and the many accessories that go with it.  I was giddy at the thought of Baad Anna’s winter yarn sale a few weeks ago.  I showed up 30 minutes early before the opening and joined a few ladies waiting in line!  I’m rewarded with new additions to my ever growing yarn stash. I met a few new people, got to spend some quality time with a close friend….what’s not to like?  

My yarn stash is out of control and my cart continues to fill on LoveKnitting and KnitPicks.  You would think that with five projects on the go, I’d be satisfied with what I have to work with but…um, nope.   I still find myself searching for those one or two skein projects thinking I’ll use up that yarn I bought ages ago and ultimately just end up picking out new yarn because I find a few more half dozen projects that I’m dying to work on.  Does this sound familiar anybody?

I used up over six skeins of yarn making winter hats with pom-poms for a local shelter.  I have the best of intentions.  I’m trying to reduce the stash, really I am, but within a couple weeks those six were replaced by six more new ones.  I assembled knit project kits with patterns, needles and yarn for donation.  I crocheted some washcloths for my sister to use up some of my cotton stash – now that one has stuck, I haven’t bought more cotton to replace what I used…..not yet.

Blog Photos (Mar 2017 Download) 004

Travel also adds another dimension to the stash — Is it bizarre that when I booked a trip to Iceland with two of my dearest friends, the first thing I thought of when booking the airfare wasn’t “how am I going to afford this trip?”, it was “do I need a second bag to carry back all the Lopi I’m going to buy in Reykjavik?”, “will I see sheep? cause, crap, we’re missing the spring round up” Sad? Perhaps. Neurotic? Maybe.  Just please don’t show me your judgy face.  As an aside for anyone interested in visiting Iceland, they sell yarn in the grocery store! Now that’s my kind of country!  While in Iceland, I was quite restrained and only picked up one of these fabulous mittens kits.

Blog Photos (Mar 2017 Download) 011

We were in England last fall for our friends’ wedding.  I just had to pick up these beauties while touring through York.

Blog Photos (Mar 2017 Download) 015

I attended Vogue Knitting Live in New York in January this year – WOW!  Too much fun and look what I got – yarn on right is pure cashmere bliss.

Really, the only adverse consequence of my addiction to yarn? I sleep less because I knit more.  My family is doing fine, they just have less storage for their “stuff” and one less arm chair in the living room because the baby blanket I’m making using the Intarsia technique, with seven balls of yarn in the works, has found a home there (separate post coming on that project – it’s coming along beautifully).  I can’t clean the blinds because I have a couple hanks hanging that need to be wound.  So I took up an entire closet, do I apologize for this? Heck no, I own the house!  My kid doesn’t starve — in addition to my love of knitting, I’m also a self-proclaimed fabulous cook.  If my daughter is watching a little bit of TV, I hang out on the couch with her, albeit with yarn and needles in hand, but hey, I’m there and she’s excited to be on the receiving end of another pair of fingerless mitts to go with the new hoodie she got for Christmas.  Are tiny pity violins playing yet?  Nope, don’t hear them and everybody’s looking pretty happy to me.

Yes, the stash costs but I like to justify my knit expenses by comparing them to the cost of all the other useless items I could put in my house.  When I think on it, I’m usually making gifts for other people.  I can count on one hand the projects that I keep for myself so really I’m actually saving money and encouraging cottage industry!  Now I don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of hats, scarves and mitts for my kid, boyfriend, his kids and myself each year.  We all have a fabulous collection growing ~ whether they like it or not! Ha!  

I take comfort that I’m not alone with my shamefully over sized stash.  Facebook is full of posted one liners about the neurotic behaviour of us fibre artists out there – my friends pepper my page with them.  They’re funny because they’re true!  

“It’s not a pile of yarn, it’s a pile of potential”

“My greatest fear is when I die my husband will sell my yarn for what I told him it cost”
[this is soooo true]

“Some might call me a yarnaholic fibre whore and they wouldn’t be wrong”
[my personal favourite]

“I’m not addicted to yarn, we’re in a committed relationship”

Be aware though of this potential downside to the stash!  Family and friends, who may or may not be knit worthy, could become wary of you.  You morph into the crazy aunt or eccentric friend who’s always whipping up something fuzzy for their head, to wrap around their neck or shove on their hands.  What begins with “oh my goodness, so beautiful!” becomes a wry “wow, you made another one?”  

I haven’t travelled down the road of making jumpers that will ultimately get stuffed into the bottom drawer, after receiving a somewhat genuine “gee, that’s great, thanks!”, along with a rather indiscreet eye roll which screams “OMG! She made another one!”  I’ll save that for when I’m a granny! 

 

Highland Knits – Check this one out…

HighlandKnits

I am making my way through the first book of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  I saw online that there’s a TV series inspired by the books, but I hadn’t given it much thought until I was given this book by some fabulous friends as a birthday gift – Highland Knits:  Knitwear Inspired by the Outlander Series (Interweave.com).  Now not only do I want to check out the show to see who they cast as Jamie Fraser, I need to book a trip Scotland so I can travel through the highlands wearing the fabulous cowl featured in the cover photo of the book!

What I really love about this book is that the yarn used is readily available.  Some yarns used are Caron Simply Soft, Vanna’s Choice and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick – all of which can be bought at Michaels.  Cascade Yarns is featured in a few of the projects as well.  At least in Vancouver, their yarn is easy to find and the prices aren’t crazy.  I’m not saying it’s cheap but you get what you pay for. As I mentioned earlier, having recently celebrated a birthday, I’ve justified all kinds of yarn indulgences so that I can work my way through this beautiful book.  

There is a project for every skill level and a variety of items to make.  The instructions are clear and well written.  The greatest difficulty is deciding where to start.

Sweater Challenge Update!

So I began my personal 2016 Sweater Challenge this past January (see earlier post this year).  I’ll admit it has been slow going, not because of difficulties with the project but just making time to work on it.

May has begun and I’m almost there!  I’m still totally in love with the yarn and can’t wait to see the finished product. Below is a picture of where I was in January compared to now – there are just 2 more inches of length in stockinette stitch before I can add the ribbing, then we’re off to blocking and the sewing together.

Now I don’t have a lot of experience with that “B” word … “blocking”.  This will be my first attempt at blocking a silk wool blend. After all the hard work, I really don’t want to mess up my pretty shrug.  If anyone has any tips that may help, please share!!!  Thanks so much!

Happy crafting!

I know May just began, but I’m preparing for winter…

Yes, I know it seems an insane idea to start work on a winter blanket now that May is here and the sun came with it finally, but I’m not the fastest knitter out there.  I’m trying to use more decorative patterns to develop my skill set which inevitably leads to greater concentration and slower work.

I took advantage of a fabulous sale at Michaels and picked up three big balls of Impeccable (Loops & Threads) – 784 m (858 yds) each.  It’s a lot of yarn which made me feel a bit overwhelmed by the idea that I would actually need to use all this lovely stuff.

There are three patterns used for the squares. I’ve made one in each pattern to make sure my gauge is correct and that I like the colours (see pictures below).

Continue reading

Fun and Cozy Knit Fox Hoodie!

As we entered the holiday season, my sister asked me to make a hooded fox cowl for Georgia, her 5 year old niece, for Christmas.  She had seen some pictures on Pinterest and thought it would make a great gift.  She asked if I was up to the challenge and, hello, of course I was.  Hoodies of the cutest woodland creatures are adorable!  

We found a pattern on Etsy that we both agreed would be super cute if it turned out.  “The Failyn Fox Cowl” designed by The Velvet Acorn (Heidi May) www.thevelvetacorn.etsy.com is absolutely fantastic and the instructions are well written and easy to follow.  Heidi offers a wide ranges of sizing as well from 12-18 months to teens and adults.  I made the child size which was the perfect size for Georgia.  The fox hoodie went on as soon as she ripped open her gift, it was a hit!  

Of course my daughter took one look at the hoodie before I wrapped it up for my sister and squealed “I want one too!!!”  Sarah is 11 so I made the hoodie in the teen size (she had a growth spurt lately and all of sudden is wearing my hats and is so much taller).  She love, love, loves it!  With winter in full swing, it will hopefully get a lot of use.  We headed out in the trails behind our home for a hike and photo shoot.  Thankful for the sun, she brought out the cool shades!  My kid is a total ham and loves the camera 🙂  

Having made two of these hoodies in different sizes and ending up with fantastic results both times, I am loving this pattern.  I added a listing to my Etsy shop for custom orders ~ it’s wonderful when you can work with a pattern that gives consistent results.  

20160109_141135

My niece took one look at the pictures of Sarah posing in her fox hoodie and shades and asked me to make her one that looked like a wolf, so I’ll be switching up the colour to a grey blend.  Stay tuned for pics of the wolf!

Have a wonderful week all!

Christine

2016 Challenge! My first knit sweater!

I’m all for personal growth, setting new goals and meeting challenges head on.  I’ve been dancing around the idea of learning to knit sweaters.  When I’ve looked at patterns, even for the most simple sweater, it seemed like such a daunting project – compared to hats and cowls, it’s, well, big!

With the New Year upon me, I’ve decided to man up and make my first sweater.  My sweet girl was so supportive, she bought me the Idiot’s Guide to Knitting Sweaters for Christmas this year to help me get started.  There’s a simple shrug pattern that I’m sure I can handle.  To add to the fun, my guy bought me a beautiful set of wood, interchangeable knitting needles – an absolute delight to use, with sharp points and smooth finish.  I could go on, but that’s a topic for another post.

I’m using Cascade Yarns Venezia (sport weight) which I mentioned in my earlier post today ~ I’ve almost got that tangled mess all sorted out.  A 70% merino wool and 30% mulberry silk, the yarn is soft, easy to work with and feels great against the skin.  .

I began the shrug yesterday evening and managed to complete the band which will become part of the collar and some of the body of the shrug today.  What makes this a sweet beginner’s project is that the knitted material is basically a large rectangle that’s folded and joining sides to create the arm holes.

A few things I’ve figured out after only a few hours of working on this project, which you may already know but I’m sending it out there for newbies like me:

  1. Read through the pattern in its entirety before beginning.  You will avoid any unwanted surprises.
  2. Using a pencil, circle the number of stitches that apply to the size of garment you are making.  It can be difficult to keep track of what you’ve done and what you need to do, with a long list of numbers to sort through.  I went through the pattern and circled the applicable number of stitches and underlined the type of stitch needed.  It’s been a big help to me.
  3. Double check the initial number of stitches cast and then check again after the first row – this was a total pain in my behind but well worth it as I accidentally dropped a couple of stitches when knitting the first row.

I’ll admit I got so excited finishing the 2 x 2 ribbing that I jumped right into the body of the shrug forgetting that I needed to switch the needle size up to the larger needles – doh!  Another lesson learned  – you could hear the “ribbit” as I frogged rows of stockinette.  On the bright side, I was able to salvage the ribbing and got some great practice putting stitches back on the needle, ever so carefully.

After all this, I’m emotionally exhausted. It’s time for bed. 😀

 

Yarn winder – a must or else you have….

this

Blog - 2016 008

Yup, that was my Thursday night after being impatient and attempting to start a project without using my yarn winder.  I love the look of a hank of yarn before it’s wound.  The shape reminds me of the infinity symbol, representing endless possibilities of what can be created.  I bought two hanks of Cascade Yarns Venezia (sport weight) – it’s a beautiful, soft merino wool and silk blend – my post-holiday splurge.  It begs for knitting needles!

Now, had I just attached the winder to my kitchen counter, this would have been the initial result….

Blog - 2016 017

Now doesn’t that look more civilized!

My guy is a saintly man, promising to help me sort out my pile of yarn disaster before I use up my current ball.  It reminds him of sorting out fishing line! Bless him!

Hopefully in a short time, this lovely yarn will be a beautiful, soft, knit shrug.   I’ll be sure to post pictures once completed!

Happy knitting and hooking all! 🙂