December 29, 2010

The Great Stash Bust of 2011 (part 2)

I felt like my photos earlier didn't quite portray the massive quantities of yarn in my possession. I decided (at 10pm) to pull all the yarn out of my trunk and pile it on the floor. While I anticipated that this would overwhelm me, it actually made me feel better. It looks much less daunting when piled up like this, especially because I was able to see everything I have.
I also dug out all of my unfinished projects that I had stashed away in here. I laid them out for your viewing pleasure.
Here you can see the back of an unfinished baby sweater that I started BEFORE my friends baby boy was born. He is now almost 2. You also see the brim of a hat, two different socks, both sides of a knit purse that I never bothered to line and sew together, and a lace scarf whose pattern has long been lost. Testament to the fact that I have trouble completing projects...

The Great Stash Bust of 2011

As a knitter (and occasional crocheter) I can't resist buying yarn. Whenever I pass a yarn store, whether it be a chain or a local yarn store (LYS), I must go in. The problem is, I almost never need anything and almost always buy something. I typically buy yarn for projects as they come up, so going to the yarn store without a plan is dangerous AND expensive. It is especially bad with my LYS. There are three of them in my general vicinity, and although my favorite one recently closed (RIP), the others have a fairly decent selection of yarns I love. I walk in and am immediately swept up into a feeling of what can only be described as calm yet giddy excitement. There are so many different yarns to look at, touch, rub on my face (yes... I rub yarn on my face. This may sound crazy, but once you pick up a super soft skein if yarn and rub it on your face, you will understand).  I have a routine when I step into a LYS. I look around, choose one side of the store, and make a pass over everything. Then I go back to the ones that stood out to me, and spend anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour having an internal conversation with myself about what I could use that specific yarn for.

I have to buy yarn from a LYS whenever I go in. Part of it is that I'm addicted to the feeling I get when the transaction is completed at the register and I know that the yarn in my hands is mine to do whatever I want with it. The possibilities are endless...and by endless, I mean limited to the scope of my not so vast ability. Another reason I have to purchase something is that I love local yarn stores. I love that there is a shop dedicated to selling the one thing I love more than anything (ok, ok, I love my cat Cindy more than anything, but I would say that yarn comes in a close second, tied with boy, my parents, and bloody marys). I also know that owning a yarn store can't be the most profitable venture, and I want to do my part, however small, to help keep them open. When my favorite yarn store closed, I was heartbroken. Whenever I drive by the building (an adorable little house that was PERFECT for a yarn store), I get excited and plan on stopping before I realize that it's now a doctors office...which makes me sad.

Although I love to support local businesses whenever I can, sometimes I am guilty of buying yarn from chain craft stores. Sometimes you need inexpensive acrylic yarn for certain projects, you know? There is a Beverly's (a chain of craft stores that is limited to California) around the corner from my house. Yes... around the corner. Luckily, Beverly's yarn selection is lacking, so it isn't as dangerous as it could be.

I also buy yarn online. KnitPicks is a great site for inexpensive yarns, but I do my best to avoid it unless I want yarn for a specific project... because I learned the hard way how dangerous it is. They have lots of lovely yarns of all different fibers, weights, colors, not to mention knitting accessories and books... and if you spend $45, the shipping is free. Do you see what I mean about that dangerous bit? On several (and by several I mean this has happened at least 5 or 6 times) occasions, I have gone to their website intending to simply browse for ideas. This has led to me adding a few skeins to my cart, only to realize that if I add several more I will get free shipping! This means one or two random skeins of some bright colored sock yarn or thick, hand-dyed wool gets added to my cart and I eagerly anticipate their arrival at my home. I rip open the package (because my goldfish memory means that I forget what I've ordered almost as soon  as I click the confirmation button) and crow over my treasures for a few minutes before I realize my problem. What can I do with one skein of sock yarn? What was I thinking? One skein would make one sock... or half a lace scarf... or.... or..... and so it gets tossed into my stash, where it mingles with numerous other yarns that were also impulsive purchases.

You can clearly see my conundrum. If I am not buying for a specific project, I buy one or two random skeins that are essentially useless unless I come up with some sort of grand plan for them (one such grand plan involved two seperate skeins of sock yarn that are coming together nicely as a scarf). Not to mention I have tons of little balls of yarn leftover from projects. It is a rare occasion when a project uses one or several complete skeins of yarn. Typically there can be anywhere from almost an entire skein to several feet of yarn left. Since I am a hoarder in training, I can't throw these away. I store the smallest little balls in a bag in my yarn trunk, full of brilliant plans for their future.

There is one final component to my yarn collection. I tend to receive yarn from people. This ranges from one or two skeins that are given to me as gifts , or bags of yarn that I inherit from friends who had grand knitting plans that fell flat. The yarn in these bags run the gamut - small little balls left over from attempts at scarves, huge skeins of acrylic yarn, fancy designer yarns... and of course, I welcome them all with open arms. To date I have received three cardboard boxes of yarn from three seperate friends. I am not complaining, don't get me wrong, but until recently I haven't realized how much yarn I have accumulated.

This leads me to the point of this rambling blog entry- my 2011 new years resolution. I have a terrible track record when it comes to new years resolutions, but I vow to keep this one (maybe my new years resoultion should be to keep my resoulton?). I will not buy any new yarn until I use the majority of the yarn I have stashed away. I am calling it the "great stash bust of 2011". I still haven't defined "majority" yet... because I know it will not be possible to use up ALL of my yarn. I have skeins stashed away that are intended for specific projects, so those will not be included. I also have some yarns that I feel might be impossible to incorporate, like eyelash yarn. I don't understand why people like eyelash yarn, but I have somehow come to posess far too much of it (and none of it was purchased by yours truely).

I have some ideas of what I am going to do with all this yarn. The little balls of leftover yarn will be turned into some sort of hideously amazing granny square blanket. The insane amount of other yarns will be turned into hats and scarves for various friends and family members. Once everyone is tired of receiving these items, I will donate the remainder to homeless shelters.

There is one caveat to this endevor, and that is Amaya. Amaya, my NYC friend, has discovered that if she buys me yarn, I will make stuff for her. As I type this, a package is on its way to me from her that is filled with various skeins of yarn that she chose for several projects she has requested of me. This is a win-win for both of us. I get to work with nice, high-quality yarns (Amaya has expensive taste) that magically show up at my house for free, and she gets lovingly hand-knitted objects. So while I have resolved to not buy myself any more yarn, this doesn't mean that people can't buy yarn for me.

While I am excited about this endeavor, I am also slightly nervous. I know myself pretty darn well, and I know that I get tired of things easily. I am worried that I will rapidly tire of trudging through my yarn stash, because it will all become old, boring stuff. There won't be that thrill of encountering new yarns (well, except for when I stumble across yarns I forgot I purchased). However, I will hold onto the knowledge that I will be able to buy yarn again in the future, and when I do it will be glorious. 

On December 24th I purchased two different skeins of yarn at a cute little yarn and book store that I found in Murphys, California while waiting to meet a group of old friends (can friends from high school be considered old friends if we graduated from high school 5 years ago?). At the time I hadn't decided that they would be my last new skeins of yarn for awhile, but now that I have come to that decision I don't think I could have made a better choice. The memory of shopping in that little store while Frank Sinatra crooned Christmas carols and the proprietor wrapped last minute holiday gifts at the front counter will bring a smile to my face as I begin plugging my way through almost ten years of yarn accumulation.
My last two new skeins of yarn
The best part is I've already started on this little adventure! While visiting my parents for Christmas, I knit a hat for boy's cousin out of leftover yarn. It was a great way to begin something so daunting, especially when I didn't even realize I was doing it!
Close-up of the stitch pattern of the hat
Just to prove to you that this project is no small task, I would like to submit some photos for evidence.
This is where my yarn lives. Innocent enough, right?
Until you open it....
It is madness inside.
Yes, there are unfinished projects in here.
Lots and lots of tangles
My crazy collection of frilly, almost useless yarns
These pictures don't quite do it justice, because you can't see the depth of the yarn in the trunk. Trust me, there is a lot in there, and I bet this is going to take me forever.
Happy New Year to everyone!

December 20, 2010

Success!!

My heart was literally pounding as I sewed in the last few threads of my Cable Comfort Throw. I had finally finished what is likely my biggest knitting project to date! Granted, it took me the majority of three months, but it was finally freaking finished and I did it all on my own. I sewed in the last edge and stood up to admire it. I grunted a bit as I picked it up, because it weighs a ton (there are 8 skeins of bulky yarn in this beast of a blanket), and is covered in random bits of cat hair, but it really is lovely! 



If I were to make this again (fat chance!) I would add an additional cable repeat. It is a nice lap blanket, but if it was just a little longer it would be a great curling up on the couch blanket.


Here is boy posing with the blanket (next to our lovely Christmas tree!). He was hoping that I was going to give it to him, and kept hinting that he wanted it, but it's going to be given to my parents for our vacation cabin in the snow. That way everyone can enjoy it!


It took some effort on my part to get it into the gift bag...and I ran out of tissue paper (Christmas fail!) but I wanted to show a final picture before it goes off to its new home.

After I finished photographing it and put it under the Christmas tree, I sat on the couch with a triumphant "phew!". I stayed there for a minute and looked around, relieved that the half finished blanket wasn't leering at me from my knitting bag anymore. I was so excited about finally getting it done... but now what? I have one more half-finished project that I am requiring myself to finish before I start on anything else. After that scarf is finished, who knows what's next! : )

December 16, 2010

More Completed Christmas Projects!

Now that life has settled back to normal (well, almost - as normal as the week before Christmas can be!), I managed to complete two projects in one day!! Ok, so I might be cheating here.... but just a little, because they were both half started when I picked them up and completed them on Tuesday. But that's not the point - the point is that they are finished!

My camera doesn't like taking pictures of knit things in the evening, so I had to take pictures in the only well-lit room of my house - the bathroom. Here they are - just two simple hats designed to help me stash-bust.

This one has no intended recipient yet

This one is for my friend who works at a ski resort
and has to dig her car out of the snow every evening
Also, here is a project I finished a while ago but haven't posed yet. This was a Christmas gift for my friend Anissa, and I waited to post them in case she checked my blog.
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They are called Cafe au Lait Mitts, and I made them with this super soft wool/bamboo combo that I bought at my LYS.

No, I still haven't finished that blanket yet. I know, I know.... it's sitting in a corner next to my Christmas tree, staring at me, willing me to finish it, but for some reason I can't bring myself to pick it up!! Although I still intend to finish it before Christmas!!! 


December 9, 2010

Visitors, Travels and a Nasty Cold

Whew!! What a whirlwind past two weeks! I am still struggling to come back to reality... but I am doing my best.

Chaos started over Thanksgiving weekend when two of my favorite people came to town. One lives in Spokane, Washington, and I haven't seen her since boy and I took a trip up there in February. The other lives in New York City, and although I see her more than the other visiting friend, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with both of them.

One night, Spokane friend and I  made a delicious meal of slow-cooked short ribs, goat cheese polenta and string beans.

Before
After!
It was extremely delicious... and luckily we had leftovers that we drunkenly ate when we stumbled home from the bars later that night.

Somewhere in between Thanksgiving and friend juggling, boy and I managed to get a Christmas tree.

As soon as the tree was up and decorated I was hit with a cold from hell. I don't get sick very often, and haven't been this sick in a long, loonnggg time. While I wasted away the afternoons at home on the couch thinking healthy thoughts, I quickly crocheted a hat to bring with me on my vacation to New York City to visit Amaya.

 Although I did everything I could to battle this cold, I still boarded the plane feeling like death warmed over. Luckily I got better and was able to enjoy my trip! 
I did lots of the typical touristy stuff like Times Square, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center.
There were lots of gorgeous lights and store window displays. I ate LOTS of food and spent more money than I intended...but that's a sign of a good vacation, right? 

Now I am home, back to work, and getting ready for an accounting final on Monday. I am looking forward to that class being over so I can officially begin prepping for the holiday season!