monster vs. monster

May 17, 2010, 3:53 pm
Filed under: knitting | Tags: , , ,

I have a bag set up in our spare room for gathering things I’m getting rid of, things I think other people might enjoy having but that I would never be able to sell – a coat with an awkward hole in the back seam, brightly colored plastic sunglasses, and so on. Sitting on the top of that bag, up until a few days ago, was a giant ball of brightly colored Mary Jane’s Attic yarn. Every time I walked past this bag I would see the yarn and think, “man, I should really keep that yarn.” Then I would remember my two small projects in this yarn, a completely unsuccessful hat (given away) and some semi-successful mittens (worn thrice) and walk away in a huff (see failures below). I have just never been a fan of how this yarn knitted up, and seeing it in my stash basket has always made for much sad, bitter reflection.

But then, last week, I got a craving to crochet. And I realized something. This yarn could be a market bag. If it ends up hideous, I thought, I won’t have to fret over dirt or berry stains. If it’s not hideous, well, great. Either way, a bag would use up every last inch of my remaining yarn and finally get this colorful burden off of my shoulders. And it did. I am thrilled. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what is quite possibly the world’s first 100% wool produce bag. Come June, I am going to have the warmest, coziest broccoli in town.

An added plus? This bag didn’t come out looking half bad! The climbing trellis stitch broke up the color pooling, and there’s a nice balance between the stripes on the straps and the blotches of color on the crocheted bottom. The straps are doubled, meaning the bag doesn’t hang all the way down to my knees, and they are wide, which means they don’t cut into my shoulders. I could see this bag at the beach…if it wasn’t, you know, for the wool thing. I’m pretty sure wool is afraid of the beach.

In other news, the (very shadowy) picture above represents my stash. In its entirety. But for one wedding present and two works in progress that are currently busting through my sock yarn scraps, this is all the knitting goodness left in my house. What you see there are seven lovely skeins of handspun yarn, and ten or fifteen small balls of leftovers from other projects. It’s possibly the smallest amount of yarn I’ve ever had. I feel so free. And all of it is going into storage for the summer, which makes me feel, well, even freer. But then the questions arise. What do you knit when you have no stash? How do you choose a project when it’s not just a matter of reaching out for the next available skein, but instead requires planning and yarn-purchasing? And more importantly, how do you keep your leftover stash low as you continue to knit?

Answer: knit sweaters all summer. Wool sweaters. All summer. My reasoning? Well, first there’s the obvious discomfort of keeping a warm pile of fabric on my lap in July’s heat spells, but really, I think I can handle that. I have been known to knit through headaches, backaches, and wristaches, in heat, in cold, and in extreme sleep deprivation. I don’t mind discomfort. Next there’s the stash thing. I am trying to keep my summer knitting contained to the summer. I tend to like long sweaters; if I knit from the top down, I can use up as much of my sweater-yarn as possible, just knitting until the garment can’t get any longer. If I do have leftovers, I can make a flower broach to accessorize my sweater. Since I’ll likely only be able to keep my mind on a single sweater at a time, my projects won’t pile up, and this is good for two reasons: one, I am spending the summer in CA in houses that are not my own, and I will not have space for yarn; two, I do not want to bring a whole bag filled with w.i.p.s back to providence with me. I am aiming for a fresh start in the fall, and looming unfinished sweaters are not what I envision. That said, I am super excited for my summer sweater project. I’ve amassed a long list of cardigans I want immediately, if not sooner: from bulky structured ones like shalomsassymetrical, and juliet, to light, wispy ones like pas de vals and the minimalist cardigan, as well as a minimalist imitator, the swinging stripe cardigan, which is first on my summer queue. I’ve also seen a few sweaters with great textured patterns: ruffled rosa, ribbed faverolle, the lacy vine yoke cardigan and the variant 113-117 jacket.

(Photo credits: 1. GaysKnits Sassymetrical, 2.Shalom Cardigan, 3. Juliet, 4. minimalist cardigan, 5. Vine Yoke Cardigan, 6. Drops cardigan)


afternoon, rain
March 13, 2010, 2:54 pm
Filed under: nice day | Tags:

Coffee and reading and unpictured peaches and pancakes,

some newer yarn, some older yarn, and quiet folksy music,

maizy monkey socks,

and rain. It’s a good day.

happy happy
March 5, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: nice day | Tags: , ,

As I sit here reading an epic 800-page cultural studies tome and waiting for my frozen fruit to de-freeze so I can try my hand at banana-raspberry muffins, here are a few things that are making me happy:

Thinking about what to do with this adorable skein of yarn from cosymakes. When she said they were mini-skeins, I was picturing a tiny little thing, but I think this is actually three mini-skeins combined. It’s a quite substantial bit of yarn and would make a good . . . hat? Cowl? Pair of gloves? Pillow cover?

Waiting for my perfect-every-time tollhouse-type cookies to cool so I can bundle them up for tomorrow’s dinner party. You know you’ve lucked into something when you find a friend who’s willing to cook you a vegan shepherd’s pie. Yum.

And, maybe happy is the wrong word, but staring out the window at the grey day and listening to this song over and over (and over and over) again has been . . . cathartic.

scrap happy
August 23, 2009, 10:47 am
Filed under: knitting | Tags: , ,

This is what’s left of my stash. It’s not much, but lately it has felt like a great weight. I thought having a small stash would make it easier to use my yarn up quickly, but it has actually been quite difficult to find uses for these little balls of color. 

My original stash-busting method was just to knit a giant garter-stitch scarf. When I hit the length I wanted, I knitted one extra square on each end to fold into pockets. I’m sure this rainbow scarf, over six feet long and with fourteen colors, looks a little ridiculous wrapped thrice around my neck, but its soft squishiness gives me such joy that I don’t much care what I look like.

After my garter scarf used up so much of my yarn, I was left the task of finding smaller projects. Cosy Cornelius-Bates’ Scrap Happy Celebration Hat has been a perfect fit for my dwindling stash, but I am rapidly running out of color combinations that would not look inappropriate on those over the age of six.

These coin purses from Leigh Radford’s AlterKnits Felt are quite addictive and I knocked out several in an evening, but when I realized that I would have to sew zippers into each one, my momentum mysteriously left me. I do love the felting, but I’m not so good at the hand sewing, and I’ll have to buy thread to finish these! Anyway I’m not sure how many more solid colored coin purses I can make, and I’m not a fan of felted stripes.

Floret 3

So what else can I do? I love this Posey Pincushion from Kris Knits – maybe I’ll make some for the local knitters at stitch and bitch to bribe them into loving me!


I also have a few great patterns from Hansigurumi for little garden and sea creatures – snails, slugs, hermit crabs – that I would love to finally knit up. I just finished two toys in one week, and I think I’m on a sewing-together-and-end-weaving-in roll.


And then there are always coffee sleeves, like this lovely one from MK Carroll that I made a cotton version of a few years back. There are actually no cables in this pattern, and I really enjoyed the smocking!

It seems like there is so much potential, but when I look at all these teeny tiny balls of yarn, all that comes to mind is how desperately I want to knit a sweater! Sigh.

without a plan
August 12, 2009, 4:17 pm
Filed under: knitting | Tags: , , , , ,

I don’t have much of a yarn stash, and here is why: when I walk into a yarn store, I’m all business. Don’t get me wrong, I do my share of cashmere fondling and color palette ogling, but I have to have a specific project in mind before I’ll actually take something to the register. Normally I’ll spend hours on Ravelry sifting through other peoples’ yarn choices and modifications so that I know exactly what my project will look like when I walk through my LYS’s front door. This approach has kept my stash from overflowing and my bank account from evaporating, but it has also turned yarn shopping into a somber, utilitarian process and left no room for imagination or experimentation. I decided a few months ago to stop buying yarns strictly for function and instead reach for unique handdyed or handspun yarns that catch my eye. I’ve since accumulated a small but delicious pile of yarns, and I’ve had as much fun staring at the skeins and contemplating their possibilities as actually knitting them. In my month of packing and moving, I turned to my weird yarns for solace and comfort and came out with some truly lovely pieces.

beeflowers cowl colors

This Cashmere Cuff, by Jessica Vaughan, used up every last inch of the amazingly soft Kim-X yarn I bought at Maker Faire in May. The artist’s description of the yarn goes like this: “Inspired by a photo of a bee visiting ice plants, this landscape yarn will knit up in slowly changing swathes of color to evoke the original scene.” I love that the final result maintains the integrity of the original vision, but that the cowl is still quite wearable, since it looks like a solid color from the front and a different solid from the back. I can’t wait to find buttons for this. It’s so soft, I want it around my neck NOW, 95 degree weather be damned.  

mitts 3

I don’t have a lot of experience knitting with handdyed yarns, so I was delighted to discover that these mitts not only show off my beautiful skein of Shades of Earth from Spincycle Yarns, they also match! This is a heavily modified version of Emily Wessel’s Handspun Fingerless Gloves, and I’m quite happy with the result. They knit up quickly and they’re surprisingly wearable and so begins my addiction to fingerless gloves. 

hat silly face

I got this gray thick-thin hands + notions yarn at the Renegade Craft fair in July. Three days later, as a friend and I enjoyed coffee and tofutti-topped bagels, it magically transformed itself into an Unoriginal Hat with added earflaps and tassels. We had a sudden cold spell in Oakland and I had already packed my warm clothes, and this hat saved me from days of shivering. Everyone looks ridiculous in this hat, but it’s that sort of self-aware ridiculous that is also full of humor and personality, so it works. 

giant cowl

In that same ridiculous vein, this Marian cowl has completely won my heart. I’ll admit it’s neither handspun nor handdyed, but it is made of the candy-colored Twinkle soft chunky that I had never let myself buy because I never had a practical pattern to make it into. As soon as I stumbled onto Jane Richmond’s möbius design, I knew I had to make this, and that even if I never had the guts to wear it, I would at least have something to cuddle on those cold Rhode Island nights. (Richmond’s designs, by the way, are bright, easy, elegant, and either free or cheap!)

So there you have it. This has been the good stuff. Next post, you’ll get a little bit of ugly.

June 5, 2009, 3:57 pm
Filed under: knitting | Tags: , , , ,

I think I’m addicted.

garter rows

To this pattern, to these colors, to the process of building rows of garter stitch. Knitting and knitting and knitting. So calming. 

garter rows

Let’s look at those those rainbow rows again, shall we?

garter close-up

I’m excited to finish my second Silk Kerchief (ravelry link), since I’ve been wearing my first one literally every single day, but I’ll be sad to say goodbye to this project. Luckily, there are lots of lovely patterns in line to keep the garter craze going.

Wool Candy

Next up, though, is my first lace shawl: Laminaria, from the Spring ’08 Knitty, in this gorgeous hand dyed bamboo merino I picked up from Wool Candy’s table at last weekend’s Maker Faire (where they had a sample of this pattern knit in this exact color and oh, I can’t wait to have my own). I guess the colors look a little washed out in this picture, but they are actually cotton-candy mottled and artificial-food-dye bright with a nice bamboo sheen. And in case you weren’t seeing a definite summer color scheme – beige, bright pastels, surging pinks and blues, burnt oranges and yellows – some photographic evidence:


Pastel Patchouli


My other Maker Faire finds: Knitty Dirty Girl’s “Dovely,” a worsted weight blend of baby alpaca, superwash merino, sari silk, and bling. KDG’s “Pastel Patchouli,” thick-thin handspun wool. And Kim-X’s lovely “Beeflowers,” a blend of cashmere, merino and nylon around a wool core. All via Urban Fauna.