In From the Cold

It was a rare sunny day—cold and crisp yesterday. I spent it scraping the dense moss off the roof of our shed and discovered the weather vane atop it had fallen. Probably knocked down by the unusually strong winds of late or perhaps the recent (standing dead) tree removal by our neighbors that I’m glad to see gone–else they crush my garage. Either way, it felt like some of the charm of our little home was lost and I was in the doldrums.

The shed is old, smells of gasoline (used to be mower storage, no doubt) and full of spiders. It’s also slated for demolition once we get around to it. So why clean the roof? It got me outside and though I probably should have demossed the grass, I was too lazy to drive to the island hardware store for lime.


I came in feeling cold with my hands unscrubbably dirty (no knitting for me!). I donned my George Hancock while pondering knitting another. What weighted me down was thinking of all the yarn I’ve purchased for things I want to make, meanwhile I’m still buried under my grandmother’s stash.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

I’ve donated the bulk of it to various good causes, but there always seems to be more, and more, and more. And, in spite of having this load of yarn, I keep buying more, and more, and more yarn that I want, though not all my purchases have worked out. For example, a few years ago I bought 5000 (not a typo; 2 X 2500) yards of variegated lace weight yarn. What was I thinking!

Enter Stephen West—a warm, wonderful character if you’ve not had the pleasure. I’ve bumped into him in various knitting venues—not that he’d remember, or that it matters. The upshot is that he’s a force of nature and one cannot help but be buoyed just thinking about him and his knitting designs!

So what perks up a PNW gal on a gray Sunday? A free knitting pattern called Garter Squish for a warm blanket he describes as “eats delicious yarn in no time at all, leaving lots of empty space in your yarn box or cabinet or room to fill with new wooly acquisitions.”

I queued two of them—one for an easy-care acrylic throw and another for wool—all of the yarn from grandma’s stash.

I have drooled over this pattern for ages–since he first he published it. And now I see its immeasurable value—busting the winter blues, making yarn quickly and easily disappear, and creating warm wooly throws for our little house. Stay tuned for upcoming photos.

Who knows, I might just be able to use the lace weight yarn with his Marled Mania Leggings pattern.

So many problems solved!

Where’d It Go? or Seller’s Remorse

My stash is prodigious. It’s mine and my grandmothers with a few of my friends’ grandmothers thrown in. There was a time, in the not too distant past, that knitting was a dying art. So when people saw me knitting, I would get given all the spare yarn that hadn’t been used up.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

One Fall when I was on sabbatical I took to photographing and cataloguing all of my yarn—at least the small portion of it that remained after I donated most of it to charity—about 75%. But don’t let that fool you, I’ve still got an immense supply which grows every time I go to a knitting event—much faster, I might add, than I can possibly knit it with a very busy full time job that never seems to end at the end of the day.

To second the Ravelry post on January 6th by MaryHeatherB “Tip: 3 Things to do on Ravelry in the New Year”, Tip #1 is to catalogue your yarn on Ravelry. I highly recommend that you go through the exercise. Now I tend to shop at home because I know what I have and in what quantities. And now that you can “slurp” in photos you won’t have the added hassle I had in photographing 200 yarns.

I’ve been knitting things for the women members of my team and trying to pick up a few new skills along the way leveraging free patterns on Ravelry. One didn’t go so well. I attempted to give Aran Cabled Shrug in Kaya Wool by Crystal Palace Yarns a more modern look by switching the ribbing to garter and adding increases to compensate for the lack of give. I love how it came out, but feel it is a bit too misshapen to give away—not to mention way too small for its intended receiver. I’m still trying to work out a closure for it that helps hide the underarm “bump”.

Next I turned to a different project that I ended up falling in love with—a Bias Scarf by Shelby Dyas. It came out so pretty (and heavy) that it hard to part with. I bought some Lion Brand Homeland in Bryce Canyon and paired it with an unidentifiable yarn in my grandma’s stash—a slick, nylon, ribbon yarn in burgundy by Malibu Mark which reminds me a lot of Anne Blatt’s Antique.

That’s when I got the idea to make a shrug from the pattern—a square you can wear. If it were wider it would be perfect and I knew of just the yarn to pair up with a bit more ribbon yarn—but this time of KNOWN origin, Lane Borgosesia Diamante in a variegated black-taupe-white and/or solid black. On the hunt I went and I came up empty. I searched by stash and it was not to be found. Where was it? I sold it!  And no doubt now these two beauties are probably knitted up, possibly together, in some gorgeous creation.

And there was this VERY old Berroco Glace variegated cotton-blend ribbon yarn which barely deviated from white in the palest of pinks and blue. I was purusing Ravelry, as I often do on weekends, and found a great summer top to use it up with, feeling so proud to be shopping in my stash. Firstly, I couldn’t find it in my stash, but I was certain I still had it so I went to my storage rack… Gone! Well, it wasn’t my color, I rationalized. Er, um. *sigh*

I’m happy to have them get used and there was no telling when I would have used them, so it’s for the best, of that I’m certain. What it did get me to do was “rethink” my trade or sale portion of my stash on Ravelry.

So Much Yarn–So Little Time

Confession time. I’m drowning in yarn.

I have a huge cache of yarn. And that’s an understatement. Oddly I lust for more. And “How did you acquire so much?”, you might rightfully ask. Two reasons:

  1. My grandmother purchased most of it
  2. I purchased yarn myself that I wanted, but didn’t have a project in mind for (at the time).

I’m about to attend the first Stitches West that I’ve been to in 10 years. And why haven’t I been going? To avoid acquiring more yarn.

Let me first explain the grandmother bit above. She was an avid knitter. If you saw her without knitting needles in her hands she was either drinking coffee or making/eating food. Every year I got between 4 and 10 sweaters, most of which I donated to goodwill when I went back to graduate school and divested myself of most my worldly belongings. Meanwhile, grandma was slowly losing her wits. And one day in a moment of clarity she asked the yarn be boxed up and given to me. Why? She’d forgotten how to knit. Alzheimer’s can do that to you. She remembered I’d picked up needles in my 20s to deal with my stressful travel/work schedule, but only for those few hours.

Mercerized Cotton
Mercerized Cotton

I flew back to Boise, Idaho to get my truck, drove to Pocatello (my place of birth) and bagged up closet, drawer and attics bursting with yarn. Nine 32 gallon bags completely stuffed, compressed and thrown into the back of Ford Ranger. When these were unpacked, sorted, and stacked Tucson, I realized I had more yarn than a yarn shop. Piles and piles of it. Some already partially knitted. Some of it water/fire damaged. Some of it only odds and ends. Much I recognized as leftovers from sweaters she’d knitted. She effectively bought out store closures of their entire stock.

Several reduction ideas immediately occurred to me. I boxed up many of her notions and some of the colors I couldn’t bear to look at—especially if they were in unable to be dyed fibers—and sent them to a women’s correctional facility in NJ who was specifically asking for yarn and tools to knit with—four boxes of it. Another two boxes—mostly of singleton skeins and the rest of her Boye aluminum straight needles I gave to a local nursing home when I moved to Seattle. That left me with about 2/3 of the original.

Taking advice from Sally Melville’s first book helped be do away with quit

Acrylic and woll
rylic and woll

e a bit more, but time was ticking and I wasn’t really making a dent in it. In the Fall of 2014 I got laid off of work. I was rehired, but took a two month leave to “recover”. During that time I photographed the yarns and started posting them and my more recently completed projects on Ravelry. I’d always been a casual user until those two months, now it is rare that a day goes by without me being on it or introducing someone to the site.

My first mistake was not adding prices. This got me bumped from a group where you could post. Then, not having a blog (as you can see this one is recently addressed) worked against me. I needed a place to post my designs and yarns where they could persist. So here we are. What prompted me to move on this was that I found ANOTHER box of yarn in a clear plastic container that I had not catalogued, photographed and posted in my stash. Might there be more? Anything is possible.

Mercerized cotton
Mercerized cotton

I’ve had pretty good luck just posting on my stash under ‘will trade or sell’. But this site I plan to dedicate to designs I’ve created myself to use up the stuff and to the yarns themselves—several of them may pre-date WWII. Some so old, they just say “Ribbon Yarn” rather than having a name. Most from foreign countries. Many, simply one offs. What is left is beautiful and what I want to do is share. Enjoy!