Sunday, June 29, 2008

First Hand Spindling Efforts

Yesterday was an exciting day - this tells you how slow my life is, but taking my first drop spindle class was a BIG EVENT for me. I went to this lovely old historic house, The John Wornall House, one of the oldest and grandest houses in our city, to take my first class from the lovely Adrienne, a history major, and a BIG fiber fan. She's been spinning for a year herself, and has become quite accomplished at the craft in that year.

Before I even went, my friend and blog reader, Elysbeth gave me some excellent advice and encouragement. I'm posting it here for anyone else who might be drawn into the art of drop spindling: "Have fun today! Remember, it's like knitting - you can do it, just not the first time. It's several actions concurrently, simply focus on one action at a time. I find spinning to be more relaxing than knitting, even when it's going Very Badly I don't get upset, I guess because I haven't been spinning with intent yet, just spinning to spin.

If you decide to take the plunge, buy some fiber that is recommended by the instructor (a mid staple wool) and commit to spinning the full 4 ozs before passing any judgements on yourself. It always helps if you aren't grading yourself."

So taking Elysbeth's advice to heart, I was really determined not to give up, and not to degrade even my worst spinning efforts. I was there to have fun, nothing else.

Six spinning students and 1 spinning teacher sat out on the lovely veranda of this fine home on a warm summer day and began our first drop spindling efforts. Let me say that it's a good thing I wasn't judging myself, because unlike knitting, spinning did NOT come naturally to me.

We were using a low whorl spindle without a hook, so that seemed harder to me. I dropped the danged drop spindle so many times that it the whorl eventually fell apart too. At any rate, the other women in the group really did seem to pick it up much faster than me. I swear, mine was so danged thick that it look like I'd just wadded up some swatches of roving and wound it around in a ball. While their yarn was thick and thin in spots, mine was just a mess and I spent most of the time chasing my drop spindle around the porch.

Even though Adrienne kept helping me, I just wasn't a natural and I didn't even end up with enough "yarn" to wind into a nice neat yarn cake. We spun for 1 hour, and during that time, most of the participants had two little balls that we later then learned how to "ply" together. I helped another spinner do hers, because I only had 1 very unsatisfactory little puff of yarn (pictured here). I was okay with that. I sat back and started watching the others, trying to figure out what they were doing differently that actually seemed to be working. Each had their own methods, but they were all having a great time.

For me, it was a great learning experience, but I felt frustrated. The most frustrating thing for me about it was that my roving kept breaking and thus all the dropping that was going on. I ended up with a bunch of fragmented, too fluffy and too thin pieces that wouldn't stay together as yarn enough to even wind into a ball.

So after we left, I hopped back to our Sip and Knit group across town and went in with my drop spindle and roving. I was determined to try it one more time over there, because I was secretly afraid I'd never pick it up again if I didn't try again. (I tend to me a slow, but determined learner).

My friend Carol, who is one of the most patient folks I know, took my hand, and my drop spindle and just sort of guided me through the feel of both predrafting, drafting and spinning. She's really good at it! She taught me how to thin out the thicker pieces and how to fix the breaks, when they occur. Then she let me keep going, and I was able to produce this second effort, which is a bit better than the first. I felt so much better after trying it again.

I also bought a really helpful little book called, "Spinning in the Old Way" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. This book focuses totally on the drop spindle as the author's best (for her) and most portable method of spinning. Though it has drawings rather than photographs, it's really written in a readable, likeable style. One of the most helpful parts is where she talks about the kind of drop spindle you should select - definitely a top sworl rather than the type of I have.

Anyway, my opinion of drop spindling at this point is mixed. On the plus side, it became rather fun on the second try and my single-ply yarn became a bit more yarn-like. Also, drop spindling is portable and inexpensive.

On the downside, it seems like a LOT of work - there are multi steps to producing real knitable yarn, even if I buy the roving all clean and carded, I still need to spin single strands, ply them together, then finish them by plunging them in warm water to hold the twist? Not sure about all that yet. The biggest downside is, I don't want to reduce what little knitting time I currently have in order to pursue a whole NEW hobby. And the biggest downside is that if I really grow to love it as so many others do, I'll be soon wanting to buy a spinning wheel - and eee gads, that is really expensive.

Right now, I'm just going to have fun with it and keep practicing. Hopefully I'll get better. Today I will make a trip over to Yarn Barn in Lawrence and select a different drop spindle and buy some more roving to keep practicing on.

By the way, a big shout out to the mysterious Kristie. You won the top prize of the cottom Berroco Twist, but I need to hear from you very soon (at least by Tuesday at midnight) or I'll have to select someone else. Please contact me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Winners Are . . .

For the Berroco Cotton Twist - Kristie. Kristie, I don't have any info about you other than your name, please email me ASAP with your mailing info if you live out of the Kansas City area. If you're in KC, I still need to know how to contact you.

For the Pumpkin yarn - that winner is Amanda in Lenexa, Ks. Please contact me.

Laura - you get the Socks That Rock. You can collect from me personally.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stash Giveaway

Here is another of my Stash Giveaways - same rules as before (2 weeks ago):

You may place a comment on this entry for any stash item that you'd like to be entered in to win. You may enter one or all three stash giveaway items, but you may win only 1 item at a time. In other words, if I draw your name for 2 items, I will contact you and ask which one you prefer.

If you entered or won last time, you may certainly enter again. YOU MUST ENTER BY FRIDAY AT NOON. ANY ENTRIES AFTER THAT CUT OFF WILL BE === WELL, CUT OFF!!
Here we go:

First off, we have 10 skeins of Berrocco's Cotton Twist in 85 yard hanks - these are 70% cotton; 30% rayon; and the colors are bright pink/orange. I was planning on making a summer top with it, but don't intend to now. It would make a summer shell or top, or a nice little girl's item. Whatever you can do with it - let your imagination soar. Ha!

Next we have 6 balls of Candy from Artful yarns in a lovely autumny/pumpkin color. It's 64% cotton 32% acryllic and 3% nylon and 1% elastic. It would make a springy capelet, scarf, child's top. 119 yards X 6 = 714 yards. Pretty color, but I decided not to make the small poncho that this was purchased for.

Finally, for you sock knitters, there is a single skein of Blue Moon's "Socks That Rock" - I bought this back when they only made those small 325 yard skeins - darn the luck!!! It's a lovely colorway of plum, grey, brown and gold called Carbon. It would probably be enough to make a short-cuffed pair of socks - or you could use it in whatever way you can conjure for 325 yards of luscious sock yarn.

There it is folks. Good luck!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can You Say Uggghhhhhhhhh??

Not enough apparently.

Here is a photo of my latest knitting disappointment - The Talia that I've talked everyone else into knitting. Yes, the dear Talia is done. And it's absolutely HORRIBLE. There isn't a word for this - horrible isn't enough. Can we all say, "Ugggghhhh" in unison????

I finished sewing up the shoulder seams and was ready to do the edging to finish it off when I decided it looked a tad LARGE. So I tried it on.
Even if I wacked 5 inches off the huge lanky sleeves/arm area, I'd also have to pull it in several inches around the waist and hips to make it fit. And I am NOT small, folks, so you can imagine that I've knit a handmade TENT.

This after getting gauge when swatching?

I am so mad. Now I remember how I felt in 8th grade HomeEc class when I decided, after sewing one too many unflattering outfits that I would never sew again. This isn't fun. This is really flailing me.

If it weren't for lace right now, and an occasional successful sock, I'd be ready to stow away my yarn and needles out of frustration.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shoalwater Lace Experience Begins

I was intending and looking forward to the Ravelry party today being held at The Studio. However, much to my disappointment, I am sick today with a full-blown cold and largingitis. So I'll have to miss it. Though I hardly EVER get sick, it's just my bad luck that my immune system would break down today, of all days, when I was SO looking forward to the Ravelry meetup. Blast it!

On Friday night, I started a lace project, Shoalwater Shawl, that I've been meaning to do for a couple of weeks now - it's a Prayer Shawl for a friend, Margo, who lost her son a few weeks ago. Though this will probably take me several weeks to knit up, I figure that she'll be in need of comfort for quite some time. It's kind of weird, but I had an emotional nudging to make this only a couple of days after her son's death. And the spiritual whisper I heard to do it also instructed me that it must be a dark, serene and peaceful BLUE to wrap her in the love of a son who is gone.

After several weeks of debating and searching for just the right yarn choice, the picture that kept springing into my mind was clear. I finally settled on the color "Nightwatch" in Dream In Color Smooshy. So I hope that she likes it, and I hope she doesn't dislike the color blue, because that's seriously what I was told - and the inner voice was quite insistent. Weird, I know this sounds rather "woooo wooooo woooo woooo" but so be it. It's especially weird since blue is my least favorite color.

When I say that I am beginning the Shoalwater Lace Experience - this probably sounds strange too. But I truly mean it. For me, knitting lace is a spiritual experience - especially this time making one deliberately as a prayer shawl and feeling some kind of internal prompting that isn't ME - it's an internal but it's being externally driven by . . . something.

A Bit About Talia. Yesterday when I went to Sip N Knit - hope I didn't give any of you the cold that I didn't know at the time I was coming down with. Kay came there and showed off her lovely finished Talia that looks great on her. My Talia project is within a hair's breath of being done. All I needed to do is block it and doing some finishing detail work around the underarms and neck. I'm so darn near finishing.

Kay modeled hers and pointed out that she blocked it BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams together. I decided that heck, I could do this afternoon while I'm housebound with the cold. So I gave it a wash and started blocking it.

Here's mine on the blocking bed. One thing I must note is that Lamb's Pride color bleeds A LOT and I had to wash it twice to get out the excess dye. This vest is a heavy one, so it may take a couple of days to dry. But when it's dry, I will sew it together and do that last bit of knitting around the edges and sew on the buttons and that's all that is left. It's about TIME I finished the vest that I started on May 1st. I've really been dragging my feet and being diverted by other projects.

Enjoy what's left of the weekend, and if you're going to the Ravelry party, eat a cupcake for me, will you?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Sanity Savers

Yay! It's summer. In between tornadoes and floods here in the Midwest, we are enjoying unseasonably nice, but cooler than normal temps. For those of you suffering (or enjoying, depending on your point of view) under the hot summer sun, here are some full-blown Summer Sanity Saver ideas just in time for the weekend:

Buy a new table cloth - summer theme. Mine is watermelons. I went to the dollar store and bought a fun, easy-to-clean table cloth that really perks up my table and makes eating dinner more fun - try your very own picnic in the kitchen or dining room.

In summer, I always take BATHS. There is nothing better after a hot, sticky day then a long cool float in the bath. But if your bathtub isn't sparkling clean, then do a thorough cleaning of it first. There's a wonderful link here on How to Get Your Bathtub and Surrounding Area Really Clean. I particularly like the suggestion about cleaning your shower nozzle with a plastic bag filled with a bit of white vinegar and tying it closed for an hour with a rubber band.

Make Chai iced tea. Along with some Chai tea bags, I use skim milk and lots of ice cubes. Delish and spicy. Yum!

If Chai isn't for you, how about filling a Sun Tea Jar full of orange slices and tea bags and making Orange Tea? That really quinches my thirst and is especially refreshing with the added citrus zing.

Porch lounging Can't make it to the beach? That's okay. Sit out on your deck, porch, or hammock.

Knit Lite. If you're a knitter like me, there are two perfect summer knits - socks and lace shawls. Often you can make a shawl out of sock yarn, too! Try out a different summer sock yarn than you normally use. And if you do, be sure and report back your favorites to me so I can try them too and share them with (all 5) readers. Note Added Later: Ellen and Lisa in the comments have both pointed out that dishcloths are great - as are afghan squares and small freeform scrumbles (to be assembled in cooler weather of course)! What are some of YOUR favorite summer lightweight projects - either in knit or crochet?

Read a summer beach book. My favorite beach books are the ones that are light, chick-lit type books. Over on Slate, I found this link to favorite beach books by well-known authors. It's really interesting to know that even the "big literary names" have their favorite brain candy reading too!! Can you believe Judy Picoult's beach book was Dirty Blondes?

For some reason, in summer, even those she's NOT a typical beach read, I often turn to Barbara Kingsolver. My favorite of hers is still Bean Trees. Who could NOT love a book about a feisty 19-year-old who leaves her Illinois home in a beat-up '55 Volkswagon bug seeking out her freedom who instead finds a newborn Cherokee baby in her passenger seat? With the baby in tow, she undergoes a series of road adventures and meetings with colorful characters who are simply hilarious. This is a heartwarming read that won't let you go until the very end!

Treat Yourself to An Inexpensive Bag - to carry your beach books, or for knitting projects, go to Bath & Body works to buy yourself (for only $5 with any purchase) this lovely Orchid Carry Bag. You can go to the link and read all about it.

Take a Stay-Cation. If you can't afford to go anywhere with the high gas prices and all . . . or can't get the time off to go, how about doing what some of the bobble-heads on CNN suggest and take a "StayCation"? That means, of course, stay in your hometown and explore some local sites that tourists typically visit and you never do? Here in Kansas City, my husband and I marveled at the fact that we have NEVER been to the Harry S. Truman Library. So we're going, probably this weekend.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

You Can Actually Make This In Two Hours

Several months ago, Laurie Perry (Crazy Aunt Purl) published the hilarious book DRUNK, DIVORCED AND COVERED IN HAT HAIR. I read her blog fairly regularly, but hadn't read the book until the other day.

The book includes some simple knitting paterns for beginners. There's one for a Felted Bracelet Bag (pattern free on her website if you click on this link). I thought it was really cute and will be perfect to hang on my wrist when I'm running quick errands to take just my ID, keys, a lipstick and cell phone. It sure beats dragging my big purse on quick jaunts.

This is the one I knit - started it this morning while watching the tribute shows on Tim Russert, and just two hours later, the bag was done, including seaming up the sides and felting it. What a fun project! Just what I needed - a mindless, fun, easy and cute quick fix.

I liked it so much that I think I'm going to make at least one more. Yay! Fun and quick and cute is good right now. (I also think these would make excellent gifts).

Friday, June 13, 2008

And the Winners Are . . . .

For the Lily Chin sport weight yarn - the winner is PamM, who was afraid she'd jinx her luck by sending me her email addy in advance! Ha! I will mail it to you, Pam, as soon as I email you and get your postal address.

The winner of the Plymouth Outback is Carla . . . she shall receive this at knit group later today.

Finally, the winner of 4 balls of Kramemer Yarns Mauch Chunky 60% New Zealand Wool; 40% Domestic Wool is Kay from Warrensburg. Kay, you make the long drive in, and you can get it, or else I will gladly mail it to you.

So although we had just a few participants, and I was able to draw names from a coffee cup rather than a hat, it was still a really FUN way of downloading some stash.

In fact, I had so much fun, that I may and probably WILL do it again, very very soon. So Elysbeth, while I'm sorry you missed out on this Stash Giveway, I'm also happy that you are back. Perhaps you will try your hand at my next Online Trunk show.

Here's a hint guys: I think the Tuesday to Friday format worked very well, so you might just want to pop in every Tuesday and see if I'm giving away any more of my stash. Going through the stash again last night taking inventory, I was actually PROUD that I don't have the gigantuan stack of stash I had this time last year.

If you will recall, last year I had tons of stuff from my 2003 beginning knitting shopping sprees. Unfortunately in 2003, when I first began, I didn't know what kind of yarn to buy, so it wasn't all that great in terms of quality. A lot of that older stuff has already been given away or knitted up last year. So now I really have a stash I'm overall pretty satisfied with. But what little is still bothering me for keeping around, I will be giving away. If I can't knit it within the next year or at most 18 months, it is going bye bye. I have a limited amount of knitting time and project interest, so there will be a few more things going away.

Most yarn in my Current Stash, is stuff I'm really happy with!! And I've been on pretty much of a Stash Diet for over a year now. I can't say that I've adhered to it STRICTLY, because I still do buy what I REALLY want to buy, but my new philosophy is to buy only what I'm going to knit up in the next month - and only yarn that I have actual PLANS for, a specific project at the top of my Ravelry Queue. Cindy at The Studio and Rita at Knitcraft have both lamented about how little they've seen of me this year. Well, I still love both of those shops. It's just that I haven't been going on big yarn binges this year, and also, what little shoppping I've done has primarily been online, and mainly has been Shawl Yarn that I know I'll use, because I LOVE lace with all my heart.

But don't worry, I'll still be feeling the Yarny Love and The Studio Love, and the Knitcraft Love. Just no more major sweater yarn purchases until I either lose a significant amount of weight, or suddenly am swept away with the Sweater Love.

Now, go have a wonderful Saturday everyone, and a Great Father's Day. Here's Kudos, in advance, to all the wonderful Fathers out there - including my husband, Bob. Speaking of which, I am still searching for a gift for my beloved, and will have to think real hard about what he wants this year. He's kept pretty close-mouthed about it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cedar Rapids Flooded

Damn, damn, damn. We used to live there, we still have friends there. My favorite house of all time is there.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa is under water. This weather has been freak'n unbelievable.

When In Doubt . . . Seek Out Instant Gratification Project

Sometimes, even in my knitting life, I am plagued with self-doubt. Lately, I've had three projects in a row that have given me fits - not necessary because the patterns/designs were bad, but just because I've had a run of trouble with them, and it may be my distracted mind that has caused the problems, I don't know.

But it just seems like my knitting projects run in spurts - last Fall, I had a spurt of really GOOD successes that made me feel confident and almost giddy in how well they turned out. I almost pronounced myself, "Knitting Proficient."

Well this Spring has been the opposite. First, in April, I knit that fugly lime green vest that I still haven't had frogged, but intend to. It's knit okay, it just looks like crap on me, and really don't think it would be flattering on anyone I know.

Then I tried to knit some cute little (seemingly simple) socks that didn't turn out to be so simple. I tried to restart them several times, and I just don't get it. They stump me and I don't know why.

Third, I've been working on this Talia vest since the beginning of May, and I had that strange arm-flap snafu that I brought to my Knit Group and they helped me redeem. I am ALMOST finished with that project. I reknit that upper portion and am now just about to do the pick up edges around the armhole and neck for final finishing. I'm HOPING Talia turns out, but it seemed to take too long and was getting on my last knitting NERVE for some reason. It certainly hasn't been a fun and/or satisfying knit. Again, I think that's because I really don't enjoy sweater knitting and realizing this has been a huge "Eureka" for me.

So yesterday, on break at work, I needed a PLEASURABLE knitting fix. I found this cute free knitting pattern for summer socks that is PERFECT for my favorite summer sock yarn, Cascade Fixation. Selecting a ball of Fixation from my stash, I cast on using the Melissa Morgan-Oakes two sock method (which I LOVE), and I started making me a pair of Cascade Fixation Summer Ankle Socks. They are easy, they are fun, they are mindless, and they will end up being wonderfully WEARABLE. It doesn't take much to make me happy sometimes - a free pattern, some yarn from stash, and a fresh try at an easy, instant gratification project. Whew! That's just what I need.

We have one more day folks, Thursday, for the Online Trunk Show and then I pick a winner. No one seems to want the middle one, so it may end up going to the charity giveaway bin unless someone speaks up for it soon. This has been a lot of fun and I may do it again! I'm still in a stash evaluation process.

Be sure and leave your email addy for me if I don't already know it. My email is ChelleC100 at yahoo dot com if you want to send me yours via private email. Thanks everyone.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Online Stash Trunk Show - 3 Days Only

As I've mentioned in my previous post about destashing, I've been trying to organize my Yarn Room and figure out which projects I really want to do etc. and which ones will likely never get around to. My theme word this year, "Awareness" is making me keenly AWARE that I have too much in the way of yarn - not in terms of quantity, because I'm not yet buried in a huge stash heap, but in terms of just having MORE than what I will reasonably knit in the way of certain yarns purchased for certain projects that I've since decided not to do.

After culling through my stash, there are a few things I'd like to gift to anyone else who might actually use the yarn. I'm giving it away for free - with the only string attached being that I'd ask you to please try to knit it within an approximate one-year period of time, or else please give it away to another knitter/crocheter of your own choosing.

What I'd do is just start with a few items as an experiment to see how this works as a destashing method. I'll start by posting 3 different yarns I'm offering for free, and you can just comment here with a link to your blog/email address if you are interested in having it. If more than one person requests it, I will put your name in the hat for that given yarn and will draw out the "winner." I will offer these 3 items up for giveaway for 3 days and 3 days only. The Online Trunk Show starts today (Tuesday) and ends Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. Winners will be posted by Saturday morning. After that, if I have no takers, I'll find another way to gift them away.

As far as shipping goes, if you are a local knitter, I will meet you and give it to you in person or by mail if you prefer. If you're outside the KC area, I can ship to you if you are in the U.S., but if outside the U.S., we'll have to figure out a way for you to pay for shipping. If that comes up, I'll let you know.

One more thing, you can put your name in the hat for one, two, or all three of the selections. But if I pick your name out as the winner in two different selections, I'll contact you and let you select the ONE you'd rather have. In other words, you can't win two prizes in one week.

How does that sound?

Here goes on the three items currently in the trunk:

Trunk Yarn Selection #1. First we have a fairly RECENT acquisition. We have 3 big hanks purchased from Webs during a Webs Sale of Plymouth Outback Wool (100% wool). Each hank has 374 yards, for a total of 1122 yards. I was originally going to use this for a big shawl, but didn't think the yarn was good for a shawl once I received it. This would make a sweater or a vest, as well as a really good BIG feltable bag. Any takers on this one?

Trunk Yarn Selection #2. 4 balls of Kramemer Yarns Mauch Chunky 60% New Zealand Wool; 40% Domestic Wool. Color is called "Carrot cake." 120 yards X 4 = 480 yards. This is feltable wool and would make a good felted bag - that was my original intention but never got around to working it up.

Trunk Yarn Selection #3. Lily Chin Chelsea (sport weight) yarn in Color 5806 - this is a very pretty apple green color 191 yards X 9 =1719, enough to make a spring cardigan. Yarn content is 30% Merino Wool; 35% Cotton; and 35% acrylic. I originally was planning on making the Ungranny Smith from the Spring 2006 Knitty but never did it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Talia Underarm Udder

Sometimes when you knit a project, you know there is something wrong, but you can't exactly put your finger on what it is. I was SO PROUD yesterday, because after working on the Talia vest all through May and the first week of June, I was almost done. But while examining where I would start picking up stitches to do the finishing work on the underarm and neck area, I noticed that the left and right upper sides, especially the underarm area, didn't really match.

I decided to take it to the Sip N Knit group on Saturday to get their opinions on what was wrong.

Unfortunately, Kay wasn't there to give us her opinion, since she's already finished the danged vest, but Laura, Mary and Carol (other asute and sweater-seasoned knitters in my group) opined that I had knit in an extra 2 1/2 inches or so of weird underarm fabric that stuck up around/near/at the side of the underarm area and made it look like I had an underarm udder. It was just an odd extra FLAP.

So they decided that it had to be ripped back quite a bit - the whole Left Front area was strange. Luckily I had a lifeline or two, but it took us an half an hour of analyzing before we figured out where in the instructions the lifeline referred to. I hated to rip - and offered up other options: 1) could I just sew that flap down somewhere inside and pretend it didn't exist? 2) could we somehow steek it diagonally? 3) Could I sew an applique or crocheted flower over it and pretend it was an intended design element?

My "difficult" knitting group insisted that I needed to rip it and do it right. Dang, I hate it when they are sooooooo RIGHT.

Sweet Laura became worried I'd take scissors to the whole thing, so she KINDLY offered to take it home with her and rip/reknit the side panel area that was afflicted with the extra appendage. I told her that, no, kind as that offer was, it would be okay REALLY, and I'd do it. But that's a true friend, who not only offers to rip it for you, but to fix it.

Ugh, now if I can just redo it and make it match the other side, I'll be fine. Sort of. I've decided I'm too direction challenged and lack sewing structure knowledge and this just confirms my desire, in the future, to stick to knitting shawls and socks, and purses. Grrrrrrrr.

After the sweater disection and surgery, there was some needle enabling going on. The girls in the group tried to make me feel better. After I announced that I ordered a set of Harmony Wood Option needles from Knitpicks this week, one of the new girls, Celia, assured me that I'd made a GOOD decision in buying them. She proudly displayed HER Harmony Options set, and allowed us all to see how smooth the joins were, etc. We talked another knitter, Shari, into buy a set herself.

After discussing Knitcraft, and the fact that Laura had found an irrestible Noro sale there - Kureyon for $5!!!!!!!!!! I jumped in my car with Shari and we were intent on getting there before the store closed so I could get enough Noro for a bag I want to make. Well, while we were driving, Shari was firing up her cell phone that has an Internet connection, and she was ordering her Harmony needles online. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whatever the case may be, we arrived at Knitcraft a 4:55 - five minutes before closing, and it was closed up and dark, locked up tighter than a tee-totler's wine cellar. Guess the Knitting Angels were the on the side of me sticking to my Yarn Diet. It was probably a good thing because I would have had a major Noro fallout if Knitcraft had been open.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Destash Thoughts

Whenever I get concerned about an area of my life, especially an optional area, such as my knitting, I take a fresh look at it - evaluate, reassess and see if it's working for me and how I can improve it.

One of my favorite podcasts is found at Knitpicks. Kelly Petkin's episodes are only about half an hour long, and I find her slow, deliberate speaking style very soothing. That woman has some great ideas, is very good at explaining techniques etc., and she packs a lot of food for thought into each podcast. In one episode, she was talking about Creative Purging - where she's going through her ginormous yarn stash and paring down the stuff that she no longer uses or will likely knit up - and she got rid of a ton of stuff. Imagine how much stash someone who owns a yarn company must have? Eeekks.

She makes an important point when she discusses how we select and keep projects and stash based on what we'd LIKE to do ideally (she calls it our LIFESTYLE Fantasy, versus our knitting reality). We sometimes buy yarn/projects from for some idealized version of ourselves. Like for example, she's only 5 feet tall, but she has lots of things she's dreamed about making that would look good on a 5'7" woman. Over the past few weeks/months, she's been releasing a lot of that yarn, and project plans, that she knows aren't right for her anymore.

The Stash and Burn girls, Nicole and Jenny, have been on a Yarn Diet and have been sticking to it pretty well, throughout much of the fall of 2007 and fairly far into 2008. In several different episodes, they talk about their "fantasy" knitting and the reality of what they want to knit for REAL. Similar concept to Kelly. Unlike me, both of them really REALLY like to knit sweaters. And even after destashing, they each have over 10 sweaters worth of yarn that they are trying to slowly knit down. on S&B, they also point out that you want to leave room in your life for NEW yarn, new patterns, the project that really lights you on fire and makes you want to drop everything and do it RIGHT NOW.

Last year, I got rid of a shit load of yarn and pretty much eliminated many of the original (stupid) yarn purchases I made during the buying spree of 2003, when I first learned to knit. While my stash is not insane, it is still feeling unmanageable and overindulgent at times, and in looking at what I really REALLY enjoy knitting, that comes down to these items: 1) shawls/lace; 2) socks; 3) purses; 4) vests. No full-blown sweaters at all. I don't mind afghans, if they are done slowly in blocks, but honestly, I've never finished one, and the closet thing I've come to getting one done is my Wrap Me Up - which is turning into a lapghan and has taken me nearly a yarn - still not done quite yet.

But basically most yarn left in my stash should be for either shawls or socks. That's my real love. So it makes evaluating everything else pretty easy, right?

Realization dawns: I hate knitting sweaters, or at least the full-blown pullover and cardigans that so many people LOVE to knit. An occasional vest, such as the one I'm doing now (Talia) are fine, but I don't want a steady diet of them either.

I've come up with some concrete steps I can take to get a better handle on my stash (and I've already completed #1). Yay!

1. Make a list of projects I really REALLY want to do throughout the rest of this year and maybe up to one year beyond that? Make a REAL list and a SOMEDAY/FANTASY/WOULDN'T IT BE NICE LIST. Write down what I have yarn for and what I don't.

2. Physically inventory all the yarn I have - compare that to the list above, and physically sort through items I want to release and purge.

3. Knit Like Hell. Gather together the projects I DO want to do and work like hell, for the rest of this year, on knitting up THOSE things that I have and really am excited to knit, as well as those things I need for gifts that I want to do this year.

4. Yarn Diet. Stay on my Yarn Diet, except for occasional purchases that really put a fire in my belly, such as the yarn I just purchased for the prayer shawl I'll soon be making for my friend Margo. These new purchases should really be rare and special until I knit down some of the stash (see Number 3 above). No new yarn for sweaters - period. We've already figured out that I don't like those and won't likely knit many of them in this lifetime. And on new purchases, I can only buy things I'm going to knit NOW (within the next month). Buying for an imagined knitting future is just no longer in my knitting lifestyle. Whew! That plan feels good.

For those needing yarn, I will let you know in a future blog post what I'm wanting to give away and you can feel free to let me know if you want something. You just might be gifted with some of my excess. Tee heeeeeee.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Do you, by an chance remember the song, "Easy" by Lionel Ritchie? Well, that's why I like Sunday morning. It's really just like that song - no planned events, nowhere to go. It's the only day out of seven that I don't have to do a single blessed thing - and that makes the day sacred to me.

So here I am, outside on my back porch in the swing working a bit on Talia, which has been languishing the past week or so. It feels really good to get excited about working on it again. As you can see, it's getting BIG, heavy and a bit too warm to knit comfortably now that the temps are up to the high 80's and the humidity even higher. So I woke up early and started working on it again because I will enjoy the heck out of wearing this vest in the Fall. Hopefully it will fit - please let it fit half as nicely as Kay's does on her. If it looks like crap, then it will probably be the last sweater for a good L-O-N-G while.

I am going to try to focus on Talia until it is finished and blocked. Then I may work on some socks as several folks suggested. I have a pair of summer socks that I cast on a few weeks ago before starting Talia. Those socks haven't really progressed, only started the first four rows or so. They are made from Kay's Jaded sock yarn - it's a gorgeous jade color that will be perfect with my clogs or sandals. Since I have such ugly feet, I wear socks year round.

When I was feeling the deep Mayonaise . . . er hum, Malaise the other day, I listened to a knitting podcast by She-Knits (Sharon) and I happened to listen Episode 49, wasn't it? (Not sure which one exactly). I happened to hear it JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME. Isn't it odd how serendipity works that way? She discussed the fact that the most important thing in knitting is to remember that this is what I do for FUN. It's important, therefore, most important of all, that whatever I knit, whatever project I work on, should be FUN also. If I don't enjoy doing it, don't do it. Simple as that.

So I'm trying to be open to experiencing my knitting bliss this week - that's my goal - to concentrate on what I most enjoy and do more of that. The two things I enjoy knitting more than anything are shawls (lace of any kind) as well as socks - oh and don't forget purses, those are also extremely fun also.

For some weird reason, I have been craving BLUE, which if you recall, is the color I normally dislike, but seem to be drawn to when I am in need of some kind of comfort or solace or when I'm wanting to bring that solace to someone else. In all my inner brooding last week, I've been cooking up a special lace project for the mother who lost her son last week. I'll tell you more about this special project in a few days. But suffice it to say, I broke down and bought some lovely BLUE yarn for it and ordered it online from Loopy Ewe. It's going to be a sort of prayer shawl, with all my healing thoughts stitched into it.