Tag Archives: stash

January in numbers

Fibre in: 100g. January’s instalment of the Hilltop Cloud Best of British Club, utterly gorgeous.

Fibre out: none. I haven’t touched my spinning wheel since before Christmas, and appear to have abandoned spindle spinning once I started being able to knit again. Ooops.

Yarn in: 4 skeins. As well as the two from last week, and the Wollmeise from the frogged Brickless, I bought a skein of Mobberley 4-ply from Yarns from the Plain, because I’m a regular listener to Nic’s podcast and wanted to support her new venture into dyeing yarn as a business rather than a hobby.

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Yarn out: 9 skeins. So I have actually managed to achieve my target of having twice as much yarn leaving stash as I have coming in, and if I hadn’t counted the frogged Wollmeise (which I don’t feel quite counts as an addition to stash) it would have been three times. This would probably feel like a better thing if it wasn’t for…

New WIPS cast on: 4
WIPs finished: 1

I currently have five WIPs, which is two more than my usual number, and am unlikely to cast any more projects on until I’ve finished at least a couple of the current ones (I suppose if I finish the gloves I’m knitting, I will cast on some socks straight away, but I’ve got two shawls on the go and won’t cast on another till both are done, and a cardigan which will be a fair while yet). So the chances of my casting on anything much in February seem fairly slim, so anything much in the way of yarn purchases is going to be getting dangerously close to seeing the stash expand again. This moderation thing is hard work!

I also haven’t touched my sewing machine in months. And that’s despite having bought a skirt from Seasalt just after Christmas which currently has the lining pinned up a couple of inches with safety pins because otherwise it hung below the hem of the skirt even when I was standing up (it still shows when I sit down, and I’m generally quite disappointed with the skirt, which may explain why I haven’t actually been able to motivate myself to get the sewing machine out and actually shorten the lining). But it’s winter, and although I’m feeling remarkably cheerful for the time of year I really do feel the need to hibernate and just don’t have the energy to do very much outside work. This is probably why April/May is always my most productive time for sewing…

Double-entry stashkeeping

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my goals for this year is to get the stash under control. I don’t want to give up buying yarn altogether – I still want to be able to support UK indie dyers and the British wool industry in general, and while the thing I love most about yarn shows is the social aspect I’m not foolish enough to think that I can spend a day surrounded by lovely yarns and fibres and come away empty-handed. And I can’t resist an unusual and exciting colour combination or a yarn with an interesting, story, which explains the two lovelies which dropped through my letterbox this week.

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(At the top, Old Maiden Aunt merino/silk 4-ply, in the “Cold Sheep” colourway, named after a recently Ravelry controversy; at the bottom, Knitting Goddess self-striping sock yarn in “Groovy”, which reminded me of the hippyish clothes I loved when I was a student.)

On the other hand, I really don’t have room for any more yarn (to be quite honest, I’m not sure I actually have room for the yarn I already have). And last night I tried Ravelry’s tool for seeing how much yarn I’d used in all my projects, and then I compared that number to the amount of yarn in my stash, and realised that I have nearly three times as much stashed yarn as I have ever knitted and that my stash, unravelled, would reach from here to Salford.

So, I set myself up a simple spreadsheet.

Screenshot 2015-01-24 12.19.51

It’s got three sections, fibre, yarn and WIPs. It’s too wide to fit comfortably on the screen of my little netbook, so the screenshot shows the yarn section, and you can just see fibre (pink header) to the left and WIPs (yellow header) to the right. Each section has two columns, yarn/fibre/WIPs in on the left and yarn/fibre/WIPs out on the right (debits and credits, in accounting parlance). Fibre out (once I have actually sat down at my spinning wheel for long enough to have some) will also have a corresponding entry in the yarn in column; yarn out will normally also be shown as WIPs in, unless I decide to have a proper destash and sell or donate some of the yarn I can’t see myself ever using. Every month I’ll total up the columns and subtract yarn out from yarn in each section; my intention is to make sure, over the year, that at least twice as many skeins of yarn leave my stash as the number of skeins and braids/batts of fibre come in. It’s looking quite good so far, despite this week’s purchases, but having cast on several projects I know it’ll be a little while before I finish those and am ready to cast on anything else (I don’t tend to have lots and lots of WIPs so I expect the numbers going in and out of WIPs will stay fairly evenly matched). And I haven’t actually cast on the Ysolda mystery shawl yet (must do that tomorrow). I also haven’t noted the skein of Wollmeise to be returned to stash after I frogged the Brickless I made a few months ago on the grounds that it was just too long and too skinny to wear, which I probably should even though it isn’t new yarn.

Still, it’s a start. I might post the totals every month, if anyone’s likely to be at all interested…

Weekend crafting, 11-12 January

I’m happy to say that I managed to do my hour each of sewing and spinning this weekend with no problems at all. Unfortunately, the sewing was finishing off last week’s Sekrit Project, so no pictures, but the spinning involved plying the Polwarth I’d been working on and it’s come out beautifully.

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I think I got about 90m from my 100g of fibre, pre-washing, so that’s definitely going in the right direction! I love how the colours have come out.

In lieu of any actual pictures of the sewing, here’s some gratuituous yarn porn instead – all the different rainbow yarns and fibre that have arrived in my house in the last week.

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(From the back, that’s KnitPicks Felici from Great British Yarns, fibre and mini skeins from the Yarn Yard, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock from Modern Knitting and merino sock yarn from Old Maiden Aunt in a rainbow colourway dyed up specially for the run-up to the Sochi Olympics.)

Next week I will start to think about dressmaking again. I am planning a party to celebrate my 40th birthday in May and it would be lovely to make a dress to wear to that. I have a copy of Simplicity 2444 and I think that would make a lovely party dress, if only I can manage to make it fit me.

Colour attraction

Last weekend, Helen of Ripples Crafts tweeted a picture of a yarn she was about to put in her shop which was so pretty I couldn’t resist buying a skein.

Ripples

The colours are gorgeous, but once it arrived it realised it wasn’t entirely dissimilar to the skein of Handmaiden Casbah I bought at Loop last year.

Similar

I’m pretty sure I have other skeins in the same palette, too. Apparently the combination of teal, fuchsia or magenta and tawny yellow is one I’m utterly powerless to resist.

I suppose it’s not surprising that the colours would go together; basically, they’re the three primary colours (red, blue and yellow), shifted slightly round the colour wheel, so the effect is instantly harmonious. And it’s not surprising they appeal to me, as I prefer the complexity of secondary and tertiary colours to the simple primaries.

I have no idea what I might make with either skein. They’re so beautiful as they are, it seems a shame to wind them and knit them up into something that might not do justice to the wonderful colours.

They have answered a question I’ve been mulling over for a while, though. I have two skeins of Yarn Yard Toddy, in fuchsia and teal, which complement each other so beautifully I can’t imagine knitting either one up on its own.

Two

I was wondering about another Daybreak, or something similar, but I’m currently desperate to jump on the Colour Affection bandwagon (well, I will be once I’ve finished Hypernova, by which point I think I might be ready for a break in the A-Z of shawls) and have been trying to think of a third colour to put with them. Obviously, it needs to be a tawny gold, and luckily, I have just the right thing (funny, that…).

Three

Maybe this will be an incentive to get on with Hypernova. It is going to be lovely, it’s just that each row takes about 40 minutes and it’s still growing!

Preferences

It was raining when I got up today, and cool enough to wear a shawl for once.

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Shawl – Abbegale
Cardigan – clothes swap
Top – M&S
Skirt – White Stuff
Leggings – M&S
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker

I’ve been thinking about what kind of handknits I wear the most lately, partly prompted by this post of Mooncalf’s, partly by the fact that I will be moving jobs in a few months and I’m wondering what changes I might need to make to my work wardrobe, and partly by plodding through the first sleeve of my Featherweight Cardigan (which is a bit wider than I expected to be, and means I’m not quite going to end up with the neat little fitted cardi of my dreams).

Mooncalf thinks of herself as a sweater knitter, and was surprised that a review of her blog concentrated mostly on socks and scarves. I am starting to think that I’m not a sweater knitter, and that that’s probably fine. I love knitting socks and shawls; socks because they’re so portable, and because handknitted socks are so lovely and cosy, shawls because they’re such a lovely way to use up beautiful yarn and – crucially – because they’re so easy to wear and a perfect way to add some interest and individuality to a work outfit. Whereas handknitted jumpers aren’t quite so straightforward for me. Partly this may just be because I’m not a good enough knitter yet, and maybe I should just accept that however tempting top-down raglans may be by the time I’ve increased enough to accommodate my bust the sleeves are always going to be too wide, and I’d be much better off with seamed patterns (I do love my Hey Teach!, after all). But handknitted jumpers and cardigans are also often very warm, and can be too much for the average office, and I don’t really want to spend months crafting a beautiful cardigan I can only wear at weekends. Even when it doesn’t end up being a not-terribly-good fit.

I’m not going to give up trying to knit jumpers, and maybe one day I’ll make the breakthrough and be able to knit nice, wearable jumpers that don’t take six months to make. But maybe I should stop being jumper-quantities of yarn, given that I already have enough for about five years at my current pace…

(Later – in fact, having just cast off the first sleeve of the Featherweight, it’s not as flappy as it looked while still on the needle. So it might be OK after all!)

Truly scrumptious

I was going to wear jeans today, but then I realised that it was actually quite warm and switched to linen trousers.

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Shawl – Travelling Woman
Top – Monsoon
Trousers – Fat Face
Sandals – GreenShoes

I’m not entirely sure I like how I look in these trousers (or, indeed, any trousers), but they’re cool and comfortable and work well as weekend wear.

I was up and about much earlier than I normally am on a Saturday, as I was meeting G and driving over to the Fyberspates open day. As well as the opportunity to buy copies of the new Scrumptious Collection pattern book and see the sample garments there was a lot of yarn on sale: Jeni is moving to new premises and was looking to clear some old stock out.

Fyberspates

Fyberspates

It’s fairly well documented, I think, that where yarn is concerned I tend to think that willpower is something that happens to other people, and I’m currently in love with laceweight and building up my stash of that in the same way I was building up my stash of sock yarn a year or so ago. (Almost everything I’ve bought lately has been laceweight, often paired skeins which can become cardigans; I’ve hardly bought any sock yarn.) Unfortunately for my bank balance, there was a lot of laceweight yarn on the sale tables today, and as well as a copy of the book I came away with this little lot:

Fyberspates loot!

From left to right: Nef Lace in green, Scrumptious Lace in blue, Elegance Lace in burgundy, two skeins of merino/silk lace in dark gold, and two skeins of merino/tencel sock in pink, blue and lilac.

Possibly a moratorium on yarn buying until Knit Nation in July might be a good plan.

Organisation

I’m not exactly the tidiest of people. I would love to be tidy, but I always seem to have too much stuff for the space available and end up with things stacked in corners or underneath furniture or piled on the corners of tables and the tops of bookcases and even on the staircase (we are having our bathroom done this week, and the need to clear the staircase to enable the workmen to carry things up and down safely has revealed that there were an awful lot of things – mobile phone boxes, old chargers and so on – which had more or less taken up permanent residence on the bottom few steps of our stairs because there didn’t seem to be any other sensible place for them). On the other hand, I am quite organised; I have a good memory and efficient filing systems and can generally lay my hands on any given item fairly quickly, whether that be books and items of clothing in my house or files and paperwork in the office.

I think the key thing to being organised when overwhelmed by Stuff is systems. As long as I have a good system then I can narrow down the possible location of the thing I want closely enough that it doesn’t take me very long to search it.

My stash is definitely approaching overwhelming proportions these days. Fortunately, when I first joined Ravelry it wasn’t terribly big and I spent a Sunday uploading photographs and logging everything on there. This has been hugely helpful; now whenever new yarn arrives in the house (which happens with quite alarming regularity) I photograph it and log it on Rav before putting it away.

As to the actual ‘putting it away’…well, jumper quantities of yarn are easy, because they can be stored in plastic bags which can be stacked up (mainly behind the coffee-table at my end of the sofa) and are large enough not to get lost. Individual skeins of 4-ply and laceweight yarn are a bit harder, because they need to be kept in something, so I have (currently) five large lidded plastic boxes which stack on top of each other and each hold quite a lot of yarn. I started with three boxes, and have bought more as I needed them, so for a while tended to simply add new yarn to the top box, but I found that it was impossible to keep track of which yarn was in which box and it was taking me far too long to find skeins of yarn I knew I had. I needed a system with more granularity, so a couple of months ago I decided to reorganise things a bit.

I started by emptying all the yarn out of the boxes onto the bed:

Stash!

Even if I had ended up with a system that wasn’t any better than I had before, I think it would have been worth doing just for the sheer glory of seeing all my yarn spread out like that. Such wonderful colours and textures!

However, once I had emptied everything out I arranged the boxes around the bed and proceeded to put the yarn back according to a system. One box for laceweight, one for Yarn Yard sock yarn, one for Knitting Goddess sock yarn, one for sock yarn from other UK indie dyers, and one for commercial sock yarn, non-UK indie dyers and the few skeins of heavier yarns I’ve bought thinking that they might be nice for hats or thicker shawls and scarves.

Some of the boxes are a bit full, but it just about fits.

Stash

The left-hand stack, from the top down, is Knitting Goddess; UK indie dyers; Yarn Yard; commercial, non-UK and heavier weights. The box on the right is laceweight.

And now, whenever I want to find a yarn I know I have stashed I can go to the right box first time and find it in less than five minutes, instead of having to hunt through every box and never being quite sure I haven’t missed it without emptying the whole lot out!