The Incredible Yarn Stash

I am currently binge-knitting.  Socks, glove-y things, a shrug, that sweater, and some mittens.

The glove-y things, these ones:


are the garter stitch mitts by Ysolda Teague.  (Ravelry PDF here, if I did that right.)

I quite like this pattern.  The shaping is  original and really works, it results in a close-fitting glove that’s actually shaped like a hand, and no funny gaps at the thumb opening.  There is no actual thumb, but I suppose you could put one on after if you wanted.  Or even during, if you didn’t mind a little stitching, but I digress.  Point is it’s a neat pattern, and knitting mittens sideways is fun.

Mine are made in some yarn from the IYS, no idea what except that it is a wool-and-something-plastic blend, in a worsted-weight single.  It is soft.  It is smooth.  Very smooth; it slid on my steel needles like warm butter.  But not too slippy, just smooth enough that the knitting was quick and easy.  It does fuzz and pill somewhat, which I think is kind of par-for-the-singles-course, but I’ve seen worse.  There is nothing not to like about this yarn.

And I hate it.  Loath it.  Am damn near ready to chuck it in the furnace and heat the house with it. The sight of it, sitting there in my knitting basket waiting for me is starting to really annoy me.  I am getting angry at yarn, how’s that for wasted energy?

Now, I have given this yarn every chance.  It’s not like I’m basing my opinion on a single pair of mitts!  I knit a little capelet out of it, years ago.  I have never worn it, not once – because I hate the yarn.

I used it as one of a couple of knit-with-two-strands yarn in a big sweater I made, also a few years back now.  Didn’t much like it then either, although that sweater did get worn, too bloody often in fact because it was really way to big for me – I swear the skinny model they had it on must’ve had shoulders like a halfback, because the thing sure wouldn’t stay on mine!  I frogged it recently, and the other yarn in it is what I used for that hoodie two posts ago.  Which means I have a pile of this chubby single again.

I have braided this yarn into my hair, which it should be good for because it has that bit of slip, and so doesn’t get tangled easily.  But I don’t like it.

And then I knit these mitts.  And so I think I can say with a fair amount of experience now, that I hate this blinkin’ yarn.  Further, I think that with all it’s good qualities, I must hate it because it is a single.  I think that I just like plies.  Now, I’m not getting on a soapbox about singles, except maybe a little tiny rant about the fact that I went to our LYS in Windsor the other day – quite a large store with a huge selection – and there were a LOT of fat singles there.  (This is starting to sound like a bad dating club.  Sorry.)  But honestly, I do not feel that plied yarn – just plain YARN, like people have been making for millenia – was adequately represented.  Which I do think is kind of pathetic, yes.

I don’t hate singles because they bias – I’ve never had that happen, and as long as the spinner knows what they are doing, I am assured that it shouldn’t.  (Personally, if I made them, they would, because I’m still fighting overtwist, but I don’t.)  I don’t hate them because they pill.  Some yarns pill, that’s life with wool, and it really doesn’t bother me.

I don’t hate singles because they are lazy.  I think they are lazy, but I don’t particularly give a darn.  (I know, you can do some nifty pretty things with singles and they wouldn’t look the same at all in plies.  I agree.  But they aren’t as strong, that’s why plying exists, and the over-representation in that yarn store mentioned previously leads me to the conclusion that singles are the cheap and fast-to-produce consumer-grade yarn – it’ll wear out faster but who cares because these knitting people will have bought tons more before they even notice.  Plus that Wal-mart wool is singles. /aside)

Anyway, none of those apparently common complaints are why I don’t like them.  I don’t like them because there is no texture there.  No bounce, no twist, no subtle bumpity-bumpity as the yarn slips through my fingers.  I only recently discovered this about myself, having spent a lot of time wondering why I was glowering at this inoffensive yarn.  I think it is the bumpity-bumpity I miss the most.

It’s ok.  I’ve got socks, another mitten and that shrug on the go, all different textures and weights of yarn, so there will be plenty to keep my picky hands amused.


Here’s what’s happened to that fibre from Emily – I plyed it with some of the black suffolk.


I think I’m going to make leg warmers. Which is kind of funny, because these are my other leg warmers:


I didn’t make them, they were bought for me by my mom, back in 1983. (And they’ve held up pretty damn well, I must say!) I wore them with a navy sweatshirt she made, and my jeans that were shot with pink and also stitched with pink so the denim had a kind of purple halo-y look. And if I still had jeans like that, I would do it again. Sorry to have to say that, but it’s the truth.
Anyway, my point is that apparently this “bluey-purple pink thing” has been going on longer than I’d realized!

Now, about the stash: Stalkermom has been sort of gently nudging me towards joining one of the “stashdown 2008” type things. She seems to feel my stash is maybe a little out of control, just because I have two rooms full of fabric, two chests full of yarn, and half my laundry room is piled with bags of wool. I don’t see this as “out of control”. I see it, like a squirrel, as security. And also maybe extra insulation.

I know that I started it by posting that wool as my ‘yarn stash’. But I mean really, if bags and baskets of raw wool count as stash reductianda, then so do sheep. Which is silly. One has to draw the line somewhere.

I know I’ve got things on the go that I have labeled “stash reduction projects” – but that right there tells you something – a lot of those projects wind up as UFOs, because working on something for the sake of using something else up is just a really garbage motivation, at least for me. It doesn’t work. Besides, I have just recently realized/decided (like, about twenty minutes ago) that I need to get away from the whole end-driven mindset. Spinning so I can knit. Knitting so I can not freeze my lily-white arse off. Sewing so I can – what? Have a bunch of impractical and phenomenally outtdated (like, centuries) clothes that will be worn once and then only for the sake of it? Or practical, reasonable functional modern clothes that I will resent every stitch of because I’d rather be making a farthingale? I do sew the things I enjoy making, rather to the detriment of my functional wardrobe, because what I love best is the cutting, the figuring out of shapes, the making it work. I honestly think that the reason I tend to have sewing UFOs is that once I figure it out, the actual assembly is irrelevant. If I want the item then sure, I’ll make it – but if all I wanted to do was to know that I could make it, then once the pieces are cut, the rest is just grunt work. So yeah, I could unclutter my life by finishing up a pile of UFOs – but then what? All it would really do is move the clutter to another room.

Same is proving to be true with spinning and knitting. I do want to turn all that wool into yarn. That’s what I have it for. But I want to enjoy the process, I want to make yarn that is pretty, and fun to spin, I want to dye it and play with shading and make boucle, and fat singles, I want to ply purple and green together and run around forcing people to admit that they DO SO ‘work’ in combination.

But I don’t want to wear any of that stuff! I wear black, and grey. I wear ugly plaid because I find it amusing, and also because people keep giving me ugly plaids, knowing that I find them amusing. I will make occasional forays into drab greens, pinks (especially if they’re in those plaids) and purples, but basically what I like is black, and if you see me in anything else it’s because I haven’t got any bloody clothes because I never bother to make any, and I’m wearing some hand-me-down that I really do intend to replace with something I actually like, one of these days.

Now, I know that I can learn to be braver about wearing colour. I know that I can learn to dye colours I like, and like colours I dye. But the fact is that the (far) end product is not in my mind when I’m spinning, I’m just enjoying the whole “Look, I made yarn be!” thing.

And then there’s the knitting. I like knitting. We all know why, we all either understand the attractions, or we don’t knit. But here again, the things I want to knit are not necessarily the things I want to have after they’ve been knitted. I just want to knit them. Likewise, the yarns that I enjoy knitting with are not necessarily the yarns that I had such fun spinning. I don’t really want to knit with boucle, or sari – it isn’t stretchy, it isn’t any use for pretty cables, which is what I’m having the most fun with right now, and when you really go to town and put beads or feathers or some crud you found in the bottom of your “shiny objects” drawer into it, then it isn’t good for much except trim (I don’t like contrast collars and cuffs) or bags (I really don’t like bags) or hats (how many hats does one person who ties yarn to their head every winter need?)

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not “dis’ing” fancy yarns. I love them. I just love them for what they are, rather than for what I could do with them. I’ve said before, I like yarn better than things that are made out of it anyway. I like to look at it, and maybe pat or kind of stroke it occasionally. And sometimes stack it and re-arrange the colours, and see if any of them seem happier beside each other. You know what I’m talking about, I know you do. I won’t tell.

So I have set myself some goals for this year, but they aren’t anything to do with stash reduction. I will of course be working from my stash, because that’s all I do most of the time anyway, I don’t actually buy things often, and when I do it’s usually in the rawest form possible, in relation to whatever it eventually turns out to become. But working from stash is not ‘the point’. Working is. I’m going to try to spin 1000 m. a month. I have no idea if that is reasonable, but it’s less than half of Farm-Witch’s goal. I figure that I really love to spin, and want to spend time on it, but since the spinning is way more central for her than for me it seems clear that I would be a complete idiot to try and match the stated goal of a professional! I guess I’ll find out soon if I’ve overshot. Oh, and singles don’t count, it has to be finished yarn. (Unless it is supposed to be a single, duh. But I don’t do that much.)

I’m going to make one corset a month, above and beyond whatever sewing I may be doing for the business or for myself. I think this is about what I average anyway, but I am hereby formalizing it into a goal. The corsets may be for me or they may be for sale, but they have to be fun – new designs, or fancy embellishments or whatever, but not just “fine, there, I have made yet another black PVC cincher, just what the world needs, let’s throw it on Ebay.” Boring ones won’t count.

I am going to do one thing in the house that will make me happy every month. Finish a wall, cover a chair, whatever. I’ve made a list of twelve “things that would make me happy if I did them”, but the list isn’t static, there are things I know already that would have been on there if I’d thought of them first, and as long as I get twelve, I’ll be pleased. That goal is kind of weather-conditional too, so it may wind up being two things a month through spring and summer rather than an actual one-per.

I am not setting knitting goals, because I don’t care. I know that I will knit, and I know that I will enjoy it because I do. No goals needed.

And of course there’s the TIF challenge, which I have been working on and will post pictures soon. Ok, you can have a peek now, but it isn’t going to help much:



Told you. I’ll explain what’s going on there shortly.

Anyway, the last goal is that I am not going to berate myself if I don’t manage to achieve these things, I am not going to let this turn into stress pressure when it’s based of things I like and want. But I am going to do a month-end summary and keep track of what I’ve managed to achieve in any given month, both on and off the list.

I can’t prove anything, but I think my mom has been slipping more yarn into the Incredible Stash (IYS).

While browsing the blogosphere yesterday, I fell for the Monkey Socks. Fell hard. I don’t know why it suddenly became imperative that I make these socks, and make ’em NOW – it’s not like I haven’t seen them before… maybe it was just the happy pastel colorway on January One, which is where the urge hit me, maybe it was just the fact that with all the sewing and spinning there hasn’t been much knitting lately. It’s true that I’ve been hankering for something “real” on the needles. (‘Cause don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that there has been no knitting, there just hasn’t been any knitting I give a damn about. I’ve knit the same ball of mohair into about three things and then ripped them back, just for the sake of tying knots in string. The mohair seems to have found it’s final form in a long glove.)

Whatever the reason, I needed to knit the Monkey Socks. Now. In variegated yarn. Only I don’t have variegated yarn, insert one of those arguments between hands and brain here. As usual, hands win and I have to get some yarn.

I’m looking after the house and animals at The Ed’s place, because June is the month they often go up north (several times), and I’m also painting a dresser over there. On which the tiny checkerboard will drive me blind, I’m sure. So when I hit the point where the checks were driving me blind and there was nothing else dry that I could switch to, I went rooting in the IYS for variegated. Which, obviously, wasn’t a big challenge.

Yeah, I’m stealing yarn when Mom’s not looking. But it’ll be ok, because a) she reads this, so it’s not like she won’t know where it went, and b) the yarn I stole was pink and Mom’s a redhead. I’m doing her a favor.

But while I was looking in the gray yarn bin (no, I didn’t want gray, I was looking at yarn) I noticed some stuff that I don’t remember from the last time I was digging in that bin. I think there’s new yarn.

I don’t feel the least bit guilty about spinning, if she’s going to go thwart our efforts at IYS reduction by importing yarn!

Yesterday I worked on the dresser, cleaned the bathroom, made a dress, did laundry and still managed to get this far on the first sock (gauge adjusted for stupid-bigness):

Yeah. I definitely needed that.

‘Awesomeness’ continues, there’s still one outstanding Thing-That-Could-Happen which I won’t jinx by talking about, but even if that doesn’t come through, I’m well into the Cup-Runneth-Over zone, so I’ll have nothing to complain of. My cup did indeed runneth over on Thursday, good things spilling over into the lives of a couple of friends who needed stuff-wot-I-got — which is in and of itself: Awesome!