Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer Knitting Goals? TO REDUCE THAT STASH!

I saw an entertaining contest on Skeins Her Way last week, devised by Ali (you may remember that beautiful fitted tank top she designed for Blue Sky Alpacas?)

Ali was generously offering both yarn and pattern for this to some lucky blogger. All you had to do was post a list of your summer knitting goals on your blog and then link it to hers to be entered in the draw. And you got to organise your knitting life into the bargain - always a tempting thought.

Of course Celtic Memory wasn't organised enough to get it sorted by the closing date (May 31) but the idea got me thinking all the same. And I decided to give some attention to what, if any goals I might have for the long sunny days ahead. What new projects, what stunning patterns, what amazing achievements, that sort of thing. Might not be in for the contest, but could at least make a LIST, right?

Only - it hasn't worked out like that. Oh the glass of wine, the chocolate supply, a tottering pile of knitting books and constantly sliding magazines were all got ready for a bit of armchair knit-dreaming, certainly. But all of a sudden I got up again. Sophy Wackles slid crossly to the floor, Tasha darted out of the way, Muffy blinked, checked that the chocolate hadn't fallen into reach, and went back to sleep. Several copies of Interweave Knits fell sideways and knocked over the pile of books. But I was already halfway down the stairs by that time (I only know what happened by interpreting the thumps and bangs).

I went down to the workshop/utility, also known as The Stash Room. Down here are a great many - a GREAT MANY - large clear plastic storage boxes, stacked on the floor. These storage boxes contain coned yarns. On the shelves are smaller clear plastic boxes with balls of yarn. Mostly they're stored according to colour, but a few have 'oh for heaven's sake where can I fit this, let's just shove it in here' mixed collections. I stood there. I looked around. I saw all the crates and boxes full to bursting point. I saw the pop-up laundry containers which I use for sorting yarns for particular creations, all full. I saw the carrier bags from France, from California, even one from a trip to London last year, all with their own special collections of yarn. I remembered (I tried not to, but it insisted on sticking in my mind and returned with force the more I tried to push it out) that a rather large consignment of new yarn, bought wholesale for dyeing purposes, was due any day. And I thought -


I know, you've had this moment too. I've seen postings, read threads in Knitter's Review Forum. Everybody gets these moments of dreadful clarity when they realise that even if they knitted from now until Tibb's Eve, they would not get through one tenth of the stash. Not even one tenth of the good stuff, the stuff you really really love, and could spend the whole evening fondling. (Let's forget about the disasters, the 'what in heaven's name was I thinking when I bought this' type of yarn. We all have plenty of that. Remember novelty eyelash?)

And while I think of it, do you have yarns that are too good to use? Far too beautiful, far too expensive, far too special to be used for anything as mundane as actually knitting up into something? Daft, isn't it? I mean - isn't that what they're for? But still we hoard them, chuckling as we count them, for all the world like a wretched old miser shivering while he checks his gold. One day, one day, I promise, I will use that cashmere, that alpaca, that silk. One day.

And so here is goal No. 1.


So heartsick is Celtic Memory at the swathes, the heaps, the piles, the stacks, the overflowing overprovision of yarn in this house, that not one more scrap or inch of the stuff will be purchased, stolen, borrowed or traded for the foreseeable future (foreseeable means about one or two months, doesn't it? Doesn't it? And it doesn't include sock yarn, I think that was agreed by an international summit, wasn't it? And stuff you've ordered before The Enlightenment doesn't count either, does it,? Because you can't send it back. Well you can, but you won't get your money back, I shouldn't think.)

And, closely linked to the foregoing, is goal No. 2:


To this end, I immediately got started on creating a new Celtic Memory composed yarn. After all, that's what I bought most of those really beautiful unique yarns for in the first place. It took most of the day and involved hauling out so many cones and balls that the whole room looked like a bomb site. (It still does, because when the yarn was finally finished and skeined up, I couldn't face tidying up. Not just yet. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe never.)

This one is called Wild Roses of West Cork, and was inspired by the lovely little pink and white sprays of bloom which can be seen on the hedgerows of every lane and boreen around here at the moment, now that June has arrived. It took absolutely ages to find exactly the right combination of different pinks shading from pale to deepest rose, not to mention the myriad greens you get in the foliage, from emerald to almost-grey. Then there were the dew-spangled cobwebs to incorporate as well, to give the proper effect. By the time it was done to my satisfaction, the Celtic Memory temper was getting frayed and the dogs were yowling for high tea

DH obligingly took several pictures of it out in the garden, although it was extraordinarily difficult to get one which showed all the colours accurately.

I tried a close up myself later on, but still couldn't get all those lovely greens to show up as beautifully as they do in real life. Oh well. Best I could do. Listed it on eBay, under Celtic Memory Yarns. There! That's one start on the stash anyway. Next week I think I'll do one in midsummer night colours - those blues and purples you get in the dark sky when the night is short and the light never quite disappears. There are stunning evenings like that in Connemara at this time of year.

And here are goals Nos. 3 and 4.




Because not only am I suddenly disgusted, disheartened, disenchanted by the sheer amount of yarn stashed away in that basement, but I am appalled by the fact that there are so many - SO MANY - WIPs. So no more projects until some of these behind-the-sofa horrors are hauled out into the cold light of day and DEALT WITH.

The Norah Gaughan asymmetrical jacket in charcoal alpaca, for example. That was so far back I can't even recall the issue of Interweave Knits (or was it Vogue?) which had the pattern. But I do remember the excitement, the urge to get going on it right away - oh yes, I do remember that. Got half way up the back, I did... Can anyone remind me of the issue in which it appeared? I know that particular publication had lots of lovely knits in charcoal, all displayed by a stunning grey-haired model. Do let me know if you can remember.

And the Anny Blatt. Anyone remember the Anny Blatt? Heavens above, that one was going before I even started blogging! I was inspired by an AB magazine in France last spring and bought tons of yarns to make this multicoloured little crop jacket with cute three-quarter sleeves that had cunning little slits on the cuffs... I shared the ups and downs of that pesky jacket with you, dear readers, and especially the ghastly moment when I realised (not for the first time and almost certainly not for the last) that any pattern which required you to pick up evenly a terrifying number of stitches all around the edge of the jacket could only end in tears.

Which it did. I tore it from the needles and hurled it into a basket. It stayed there. Until today. When I hauled it out and spread it neatly to be photographed.

Does anyone have a handy hint for sewing up a jacket of many colours? The seams I've done will have to come out - they look like a toddler with a crowbar needle bashed them together with rope. Maybe a neutral fine yarn, light grey or something? Advice would be welcomed here!

I still like the colours a lot. It would be quite a useful addition to the wardrobe, since it would spice up any plain top and trousers. But the neck is far too loose, and the bottom edge is very wide and wavy. It needs firm control. Have I the courage to tackle that 'pick up evenly all around...' again? No. No, no, and no.

Maybe an i-cord? Yes, that's a thought. I could make it on that little French knitting spool thingie which worked so well for the Celtic Vest.

Yes, that CV was something at least which was finished. Mind you, it wouldn't have been if Angeluna hadn't steadfastly nagged me, and I was too scared of her to point blank refuse. (I haven't dared to tell her that the buttons were not in the right positions, and I unpicked the i-cord to sort it out, and it's been lying there since. So not quite an unqualified success after all.)

But I do have one nice little success to report. The Aran Sandal Socks are done! Yes, they really are, and I am very proud of them indeed. Lavold's Silky Wool worked up very well. I think I'll make these again, perhaps in a bamboo blend, which would also show off the stitches effectively.

Thank you Tania for helping me with these in moments of extreme difficulty. The pattern does have a few errors in it, and although most of them become clear with a bit of commonsense, that particular problem with the heel wouldn't have been sorted without your generous help. I owe you! And I have to make them again now, because it would be a bit of a waste not to after learning all that stuff! They'd be rather good in knee-length, wouldn't they?

Now there is the Entrelac Stole in Prism to finish, and then courage will be gathered somehow to approach both Anny Blatt and Norah Gaughan. It has to be done. It will be done.

The only difficulty now is how to incorporate the Summer of Socks KAL into this new stern regime which has been established chez Celtic Memory. Got to take part in that. WANT to take part in that. Can't imagine summer without taking part in that. But - no new projects? Impasse!

But wait a minute - if sock yarn doesn't count, then presumably sock projects don't count either, right? YAY!


Lynn said...

You are not helping me One. Little. Bit. by teasing with your new composed yarn! I think in the world of mental health, they call this "enabling". Not cool. *SO* not cool. My only hope is that by the time the Sabbath has passed and it's appropriate for me to bid, every blessed skein has been snatched up.

Anonymous said...

What is a "composed yarn?" I've not heard that term before.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering, too. Is your composed yarn made up of one strand that is made by tying different yarns along its length, or is it multiple strands running alongside each other - sorry, but it's a bit hard to tell from the photos, which, by the way, do indicate lovely colour combos.

I know how you feel about the multitude of fibres and yarns, as well as UFOs. I actually start feeling a bit woozy when I check out the enormous amount I've accumulated. And then when I acquire some more (which I inevitably do) I feel even dizzier! I just can't spin and knit fast enough to make much of a dent!

LaurieM said...

Oh dear. Another one has gone to the dark side of stash busting.

I must confess, I buy no yarn on impulse these days. Even when on sale. I just tell myself that when I'm ready to use the yarn, and I know what the project is, I will buy it full price and save myself guilt instead of money.

Dez Crawford said...

Both my mother and my Irish grandmother taught me that it is rude to point at people and laugh until you fall down.

Good thing you're too far away to see me.

First, love the wild-rose yarn and lovely Aran socks! I like the seed stitch gussett a lot. Definitely worth a re-visit, that pattern.

Second: Sock yarn most definitely does NOT count as stash. I believe the summit on that was held in August of 2001, in Kashmir. Meg Swansen, Lily Chin, Nikki Epstien and other luminaries agreed unanimously on that point. So it follows that sock projects do not count as new projects.

Third: If you have an Internet-based business relying upon coned yarn from which to make such lovely things as Wild Roses of West Cork, coned yarn is RAW MATERIALS INVENTORY. It most definitely is NOT personal stash.

Fourth: spinning fiber doesn't count as stash because, of course, it isn't yarn. Yet.

See how much less personal stash you have now?

However, if we are to take this seriously (which of course, we are not); the more coned yarn you skein up and sell, the more money you have to buy actual stash yarn with.

Marianne said...

Jo, I'm thinking it was in a Vogue Fall or Winter? OK, It was the Vogue, Fall issue, the series was called 'gray's anatomy'.

Wild she's quite the stunner! Love those greens.

You're right about the sock yarn and the socks....heh.

Angeluna said...

First...lovely, lovely, quite stunning Aran Sandal Socks. Brava! Bravissima! (you can tell I've been at the opera 4 times this week-end!)

It must be epiphany time. We are all having them. I have skipped several fabulous sales at LYSs. If I go, I buy, so I don't go.

But dear Jo, although you fessed up on the CV, which can be quickly corrected, I notice you didn't mention that insane passion of yours, the Travelling Cables Cardigan. What's the report on that?

And what pray tell is Tibb's Eve????

Stephanie said...

Sadly, I can relate to the stash issue as well as the "too many WIPs" issue. I can also tell you the Norah Gaughan sweater is in the Fall 2006 issue of Vogue Knitting, and you'll want to look at the corrections on the vogueknitting dot com site--looks like there are corrections to the sleeve. See? Now aren't you glad you stopped when you did?

By the way, I love your "composed yarn", and your beautiful aran socks have forced me to buy "Socks, Socks, Socks". (Even though I have too many knitting books--you know--to go along with my overabundance of yarn.)

Charity said...

I can relate to the feeling of horror when you first face how. much. yarn is really there. But it gets better, right? :0)

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love those Aran socks! Esp. the gusset splitting the cables.

No, I did not sign up for the Summer of Socks. Just didn't feel the urge, I guess. I'm finishing some things and starting one new; others wait in the wings. I wanna get back to my Master Knitter stuff, but must collect my energy a bit. I hope you can feel some stash-denting satisfaction soon.

Anonymous said...

First, I love the Aran socks!
And NO! Never too much yarn! Our inspiration comes from our stash! What would you do with only one or two bags of yarn? Only knit one or two sweaters, following what's written in the patterns, and not thinking, not creating, not dreaming...!!!

Anonymous said...

That's quite the Herculean tasks you've set for yourself! Best of luck, Jo. Those socks look fantastic; maybe you could set up a sort of reward system for yourself, liek for every old WIP finished/cone of yarn dealt with, you get to knit a pair of socks!

Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

What about woolfest end of this month?? Just visiting are we and not purchasing:)))))
love the new yarn Jo, but you are a tease especially mentioning the blues and night skies. Tut tut, I'm trying to economise with this move we've just had

Roggey said...

*whew* I was dreading that my name/blog may have come up in the whole "let's get organized and do the projects list" thing... glad to see that I'm not =)

Remember to little things in between the big projects. It drags me down when I don't complete something in a six-week period.

pacalaga said...

That AB sweater is CUTE! I would suggest a knitted-on band, like garter stitch knit sideways and attached like the i-cord bindoff. It's very sweet, I can't wait to see it modelled.
How about if you reward yourself with a pair of socks for every UFO you deal with?

Angeluna said...

Dearest, darlingest Jo, in answer to your suggestion on my blog that I should get another circular needle so that I can knit two socks at a time...are you kidding???? I have probably 8 pair in the same size in the same BRAND...Knitpicks...which I totally love for small sock sizes. Also have in each size, at least two Addis and a Laceweight Addi. Even though the measured gauge size is equal, I do NOT get the same gauge size between brands. One of the myteries of life. Oh, and all those needles???? They are all in other socks! That are awaiting more yarn to finish. As you know, I always run out. But hope springs eternal.

Ronni said...

I love those Aran Sandal socks. They are beautiful! I've been afraid to make up a summer knitting list at least partly because if I do the stash diving necessary to actually list it properly I'll get overwhelmed by how much I have in stash I'll panic. And if that doesn't get me, the thrashing as I try to decide which project to work on next will. So I salute your bravery.

Bridget said...

I vote with the others: you get to knit one pair of socks for each UFO you finish. You always need a small project to carry around with you; imagine trying to carry your spinning wheel somewhere to do your plying! Silly!

Anyway, I keep a running list called the Accountability Matrix to keep me on track. It's a listing of all projects I have going, when they are due, and what priority they have. Doesn't work perfectly, but works better than nothing.

And I take exception to your slur on eyelash! I just finished two scarves (one for my mom and one for my daughter) and they both loved them! Have one to do for myself, as well. I know they are plastic, but they are good plastic, nice and soft and snuggly. Send me your address and color preferences and I'll make one for you!

Best of luck in your stash-busting! You are a brave woman!


Denise said...

Jo, the aran socks are lovely and the colors in your new composed yarn are very soft and romantic.

I am trying to come to terms with the stash in my Basement of Wool too. I lost a bit of focus on vacation but time to get back on it I suppose. Not being the speedy knitter you are I suspect I already have enough yarn and fiber to entertain me until retirement and beyond!

Good luck! (and of course sock yarn doesn't count)

Cathi said...

I love those Aran socks. I also spotted a gorgeous sampler afghan called the Great American Aran Afghan or something like that... I'm definitely going to have to get a few sock books!!

Mranthe said...

Laudable goals, though I admit to having failed at them once or a many times myself... I do manage, every so often, though, to finish off most of my in-projects, and then wander about like a lost soul wondering what to do, which to start, such an impasse... All I can suggest is that whatever form your stash reduction takes, have fun with it!

Oh, and the Sandal Socks are magnificent, btw... and my understanding is that socks are, of course, necessities that don't count against such goals in any form :*)

Traci said...

the Aran's turned out so loverly! you can really see the details...
oh and sorry about your dilemma. thank heaven's i'm still a new enough knitter to not know any better about stashes. however, the bug tried to bite me when i was at a festival recently. it was a close one! i can surely empathize/understand a bit more now!
and i think you're so very brave to post, in detail, about tackling your stash! way to go Jo!
may you find unbridled satisfaction when your mission is accomplished!
now, i must go to ebay to check out your stash!