Stash busting update

 

I can already tell there will be a lot of ups and downs to this stash busting project.

The first couple days went well. I was feeling like I was getting somewhere right away.

I am working on a commission for a woven wall hanging. I actually had to buy yarn for it because I didn’t have the necessary colors. (Which are black and white. Can you imagine?) I did have a skein of a fun textured bumpy white, and I used that as the big fringe at the bottom of the wall hanging. That used up an entire skein, so I was very excited about that.

I also made this fun quick hat.

The yarn is a vintage wool which we have a ton of in the stash. It’s from when we bought the yarn store.

pinguoin

Pingouin Meche Bouclee

I was pleased that the hat used almost 3 skeins of the yarn. So between the hat and wall hanging, I have used up 4 skeins of yarn!

As you can imagine, I have no idea how much yarn is actually in the stash. There are probably 15 bins full of yarn, plus some bags. There is no way I’m doing a full inventory.

I do want to organize it more and separate smaller bits of yarn, things that aren’t full skeins. That way I know these certain bins are full skeins that I can do a bigger project with, and these other bins are just bits and bobs.

I want to find a bits and bobs project. I’m thinking a crocheted blanket, maybe hexagons. I’ve seen some really nice ones that people make. I’m also thinking of the Beekeeper’s Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits.

I had a very low moment when I was organizing some of my “current” yarn. I had a little bag full of bits of fingering weight, and I went to put it in the fingering weight bin. The bin nearly exploded when I opened it. I wanted to cry. I really thought I was getting somewhere, if I just didn’t look at the stash. But I must keep my head up and keep taking baby steps.

Another project I have going is the Meringue Cowl. It’s a lovely pattern and mainly I was looking for a mindless knit. It is that. The only thing to keep track of is your rows and where to put the eyelets, and when to switch between stockinette and reverse stockinette. It’s been nice to have a project like that. And I thought it would be a good way to use up some Knit Picks Palette.

Besides the main stash, I have a mini stash of just Knit Picks yarn. It’s pretty much all I buy because with the huge yarn stash, I can’t seem to justify spending a lot of money on yarn, so I just buy inexpensive yarn. Especially for commissions and things to sell and whatnot. I have a ton of Palette and I just have to get some used up. I am wondering about knitting socks with it, too.

I made two swatches so I can plan a couple sweaters.

Baby steps.

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Bust the Stash 2016

We have a funny relationship with our yarn stashes, don’t we? We love them. We love all the beautiful yarn.

But they are always somehow taunting us. “Are you going to use me or just let me sit in this closet forever?”

The right project for the yarn never seems to present itself. We buy more yarn. The stash never gets smaller.

My mom and I have quite a yarn stash. She has been knitting 50+ years and I have been knitting 20+ years.

Oh, and then there was that time that we bought out a yarn store. Literally. When I was young we had a great local yarn shop that we patronized. In my early years of knitting I learned everything from my mom and the local shop owner, Elizabeth. Eventually she had to close the shop, and we bought all the wool yarn she had left. We didn’t buy acrylic, we just bought wool. All the wool, including needlepoint yarn.

We never organized our stash. A couple years ago when we moved, we put all the yarn in those space bags where you vacuum the air out and they get smaller. The bags were just stuffed in the closet in the craft room.

yarn closet

Yarn closet before organizing

Just recently we spent half a day organizing those bags.

We put everything into bins by yarn weight. Now the bins take up the entire craft room.

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Bins of yarn by weight

I’ve had a couple failed attempts at busting the stash. I usually never did more than 1 or 2 projects. But it has to be different this time.

My plan is: no new yarn this year. (How many times do we all say that?) Mom and I are both working on temperature blankets so I know we will have to buy yarn for those, and that is OK. And if we get any commissions where someone needs something specific, yes, we will have to buy yarn. Other than that? No. Yarn is on sale? No. It’s really pretty? No.

And I’ve come up with a method: start with the yarn. We spend so much time looking at gorgeous patterns on ravelry. It seems that if we find the pattern first, we don’t have the yarn we need in our stash. That’s when we buy new yarn and the stash sits unused.

So the plan is to first pick out a yarn from the stash. See how much there is and what it inspires us to make, then find the pattern.

The first project that I want to make is a sweater with some discontinued Alafoss Lopi Lyng. We have 20 skeins of it in a mustardy yellow color. I have been wanting to make this Bulky Hooded Vest and I considered making it with the Lopi, but since there is so much of this yarn, I think I should go bigger and make a sweater. Now to find a pattern that I like…..

P.S. Don’t get me started on my spinning fiber stash, or my handspun yarn stash.

P.P.S. I hate to admit it but there are still tons of space bags in the craft closet. Turns out a lot of them are fabric, which I have no idea what we are doing with. And there is still some unorganized yarn. All the needlepoint yarn is still in bags, and I don’t know how to put it in a category. Is it fingering weight? Maybe.

 

 

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Navajo Plying vs. 2 ply

During my spindle-only spinning days I felt like there were a lot of spinning techniques I was missing out on. Things that are just too difficult on a spindle. They are not impossible, but I didn’t feel up to tackling them. Like Navajo plying. I tried it a couple times to not-so-great results.

So when I got my spinning wheel I couldn’t wait to try Navajo plying. It, of course, took some practice. I had to watch a lot of youtube videos. This video helped me finally understand where the loops were going and how they were interacting. 

I then thought it would be fun and interesting to have a comparison in Navajo ply and 2 ply. Last year I had bought 2 braids of fiber from Greenwood Fiberworks. (The colorway was called Figs, it was a limited edition for a Spin Along.) I had already spun one braid on the spindle, and I never got around to spinning the second braid. Perfect opportunity for a Navajo ply comparison.

braid

Braid of Polwarth in “Figs”

I spun it the same way I had spun the original braid. I split it vertically into 8 strips. So the lengths of the colorways would be the same.

Here is the 2 py yarn. The colors are still vibrant but they are a little marled. There is some mixing and barber-poling.

close up 2 ply2 ply

And now for the Navajo.

navajo skeins close up

Of course, as is the main goal with Navajo plying, the colors are maintained. And I really just like the texture of it. I like the way the tight twist looks, and I like the squishyness.

Here they are side by side:

navajo and 2 ply skeins 1

And of course, the best way to see the difference is in a swatch.

navajo swatch

Navajo ply swatch

2 ply swatch

2 ply swatch

The difference is drastic. I like them both but for different reasons. Of course I love the color distinction in the Navajo. It’s so great to see each beautiful color of the colorway. But I like the drape and softness of the 2 ply. It is a much lighter fabric.

I have already made a little shawlette from the 2 ply. It came out very nicely, and I will show it off when I make something from the Navajo and I can compare them.

I ended up with 436 yards in the 2 ply, at 12-14 wpi.
And the Navajo was 358 yards at 15 wpi.

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Summer Glovin’

One morning recently I was getting ready for a trip. I was lamenting that I didn’t have enough projects to bring. I only had one or two spinning projects. I didn’t really have anything to knit. I was thinking it would be nice to have a pair or socks to start, or maybe a little shawlette or something. Something small and interesting but not too complicated.

As if on cue, my sister called. She had a knitting request.It’s summer and we’ve been having extremely high temperatures combined with high humidity, really unbearable. Why would she have a knitting request? Is she thinking ahead to winter already? Turns out her office’s air conditioner is too small for the space, therefore making the office extremely cold. She dresses for the heat outside but then gets to work and it’s freezing cold.

She has extra sweaters and jackets etc but her hands are always cold, making typing difficult. She needs fingerless gloves!

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A quick Ravelry search (where I already have favorited tons of fingerless gloves) and I found these gorgeous Fishtail Wristwarmers. They seemed perfect – a little bit lacy so they’re not too heavy, but solid enough so they provide the warmth she needs. I grabbed the needles and notions and I was set.

I got one glove done in the week I was away. I could have gotten them done faster but I was distracted by my spinning. But they were fast nonetheless. The lace stitch was really easy to memorize.

I really enjoyed the pattern and I think they came out beautifully. I might make them again, but if I make them for myself, I will go up a couple needle sizes. They were quite small and I could hardly get them on (I wanted to check sizing as I made them.) But my sister has tiny hands and wrists, so they fit her perfectly:

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Gotta love summer knitting!

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New Spinning Wheel

I’ve been spinning on a drop spindle for about a year. I love it and I’ve made plenty of great yarn. But it does get tedious. It’s slow and there’s a lot of stretching of the arm, winding and unwinding.

As soon as I realized how much I loved spinning, I knew I would have to get a wheel someday. But they’re expensive and I couldn’t imagine when I would be able to save enough money. Not to mention space issues.

But about a month ago my Mom and I were at a fiber festival in central New York put on by CNY Fiber. We were visiting a booth and looking at some lovely fiber when the woman pointed out her wheel – a cute little Ashford Traveler. She mentioned that it was for sale. I saw the price and it was so low I thought she was joking. But she was serious. It wasn’t in great condition, and she was already at least the second owner.

I’m not particularly impulsive, and I have a hard time making a decision. I’m always weighing all the options. So I told her I’d have to think about it and come back. Basically my Mom had to talk sense into me and insist I buy it. I had the money but I couldn’t help thinking I should just keep saving and buy a really nice brand new one. But Mom said it will work and you will be able to spin now so why wait? Just go for it. You can get a nicer one later.
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ashford traveller

I had to thank her for insisting I buy it. It was a great decision. It took some TLC to get it going again. The seller did mention that one part was wobbly (I think it’s the footman, but forgive me, I am still learning the names of all the parts. It goes up and down with the wheel as it’s treadled) but that some glue would help tighten it up. That turned into a bit of a project for my Dad and my cousin’s boyfriend. They spent quite a bit of time working on it. They fixed it but it was only temporary, it started wobbling again after some use. My Dad has since worked on it some more and it seems fine now.

There was also the issue of getting a new drive band and brake band. I ordered them right away but when I got them I didn’t know how to put them on. I spent a long time googling and watching videos until I finally worked it out.

I also had a lot of waxing and oiling to do. I’m afraid the wheel had been a bit neglected. There’s also the cosmetic issue of the chewed legs. The woman I bought it from told me her dogs liked to chew them. Oh well. It doesn’t affect the functionality. It still spins.

And boy was I happy to be spinning! I got the hang of it pretty quickly. I had only spun on a wheel once for about 20 minutes at a friend’s, and I didn’t do well but I guess my hands learned what to do. When I sat down at mine I pretty much knew how to do it. And I was very excited to be spinning so fast. For the first couple weeks, all I wanted to do was spin because I was so excited that it was going so fast. In the month I’ve had it I’ve probably spun at least 2 pounds. That would probably take me about 6 months on a spindle.

I am a happy girl with my spinning wheel.

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Original Toe-Up Socks

I love knitting socks. They’re so cute and fast and fun and everyone loves wearing them.

So when Craftsy had a Christmas sale and my Mom offered to buy me a couple classes (thanks Mom!) I chose Knit Original Toe-Up Socks. I’d been really wanting to do toe-up socks. It makes more sense to me. I like the idea of knitting up until I ran out of yarn, and making a nice long sock and getting the most use out of my yarn.

I spent a lot of time watching the videos and learning the preliminaries to knitting socks. All the nerdy math stuff, which I actually like. Yes, I am one of those knitters. I even started a folder where I keep measurement sheets for important people – my Mom, my sisters, etc, so I always have their foot measurements on hand when I want to make them socks.

I finally wanted to start knitting, and I have this gorgeous soft very fine sock yarn that I’ve been wanting to use. But the toes start with provisional cast-ons, which were new to me. I ended up trying and failing multiple times to start a toe and eventually I started ruining the yarn. It was getting untwisted and frayed.

I was inspired by another Craftsy member who made some cute socks in worsted weight. Why do I always think socks have to be fingering weight? Worsted weight for socks seems fun, and it will be easier to learn the fussy little toe cast-ons with a heavier yarn. I had some worsted weight that I dyed last year. Actually, the orange yarn was the first yarn I ever dyed.

I had this orange and some red. Both had been used for other projects (the red became Thrummed Mittens) and I had leftovers of each. Seemed like a pair of socks was the perfect way to use up the yarn.

In the Craftsy class, the instructor has socks that have been made with a contrasting color for the toe, heel, and cuff. It makes it easier for demonstration because you can clearly see how each part is made. But I really like the way it looks, and I liked the red and orange together, so I designed my own sock with contrasting toe, heel, and cuff.

toe-up socks 2

I really love the result. They are fun and a little funky, and very cozy. I used the moccasin toe and the afterthought heel. I had to figure out some calf increases since they are so long.

I did make a mistake. Even after watching and reviewing the video lessons so much, I forgot a very important step. Calculating negative ease. That’s important because wool is elastic and stretches over time, so you make the sock a little bit smaller than you actually want it so it has room to stretch. It also gives a nice snug fit. So they fit nicely now, but I’m sure that with some wear they will start to stretch and get a bit baggy.

Luckily, they also fit my Mom, and her foot is a bit bigger than mine. So I’m sure if they get too baggy for me she will be happy to take them. Actually, I believe she is anxiously waiting for that to happen. She was my model for the photo and she really loved wearing them, she didn’t want to take them off!

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Finished Yarn: Snow Glow (Happy Mother’s Day)

il_fullxfull.389733628_ypr0A while back my Mom decided she loves a cool icy blue, and she would love it if I found a nice fiber to spin her some yarn. Please and thank you very much.

So when I found this fiber on Etsy she became quite obsessed. The lovely fiber artists who dyed it had a story about how the colorway was inspired: garden walls that had Christmas lights on them and then covered in snow made the lights glow through the snow, resulting in these gorgeous soft colors. We loved the story but the colors also reminded us of fairy wings.

When the fiber came, I didn’t even want to spin it. The little clouds it came in are just so beautiful, and the fiber was impossibly soft. It is merino and faux cashmere, with a bit of sparkle. Of course I usually prefer natural fibers but the faux doesn’t even bother me in this. It is so soft and squishy and irresistible. We left the fiber in its clear plastic bag on the coffee table for a while – we just loved looking at it. But after a couple weeks I had to get it on a spindle.

I was a little intimidated because it seemed like it might be the type of fiber that is slippery and difficult to spin. But it spun like a dream. It was smooth and easy and I never found it slippery at all.

This was my process. First I unwound the cloud. It was a big flat sheet, a perfectly blended batt:

I wanted to maintain the colors so I tore the strips off vertically. I pre-drafted each strip into its own little nest:

IMG_5226

 

Then I spun!IMG_5262

Like I said, I maintained the colors, so I tore off the strips as the colors were laid out in the batt. It was great watching the colors transition. The transitions were nice and slow: the icy blue started getting a bit warmer, slowly transitioning into green. The green then became a bit lighter and then turned into orange. The orange transitioned into the beautiful soft rose color. But the orange and green are both so soft and subtle they are almost not there – they are just different shades of the blue and pink.

I got it spun up pretty quickly. The first mini batt took only 3 days. I took it a bit slower with the second one and got it done in a week. It came out very fine. (I’ve been spinning almost a year but I still can’t manage to control the weight of the yarn. It just comes out however it wants to come out.) The fine yarn is great because my Mom and I both envision a nice lacy shawl.

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The only problem I encountered was after I washed the yarn. I didn’t want to full it too much because I wanted the maximum yardage. So I washed it in lukewarm water and just swooshed it around in the water a little – not really agitating it. But once it was dry it was curly. It had little “ramen noodle curls” as I’ve heard them being called. Holding the skein up didn’t show there was still a lot of twist in it – the skein hung nice and straight. But the yarn was too curly, I knew knitting it would be impossible. I washed it a second time, with warmer water and some agitation. It was still curly. So I wound it onto bobbins (cardboard tubes) and let it sit about a week and a half. That relaxed the curls out and it was nice and smooth and straight. (If that hadn’t worked, I would have plied it, which I didn’t really want to do. I didn’t want the colors to blend and I didn’t want to lose yardage. Thankfully that wasn’t necessary.)

IMG_5311And I finished it the day before Mother’s Day!

I ended up with 2 skeins totaling 946 yards. It’s about 24 wpi. The next step is figuring out what to make with it.

I definitely will be purchasing fiber from nunoco again. Their colors are gorgeous and the fiber was such a pleasure to spin. I highly recommend them.

IMG_5314

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