Yarn Stash Busted

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Either this is not true, or I’m not a lady. One of those.

As all yarnoholics know, parting with a single skein is akin to giving up a semi-major internal organ, and there’s always so much glorious new yarn to “adopt.” Lace weight, chunky, variegated, wool, bamboo, crochet thread, cotton, alpaca in all the colors of the rainbow.

First it’s a basket. Then a storage container. Then more storage containers and other random receptacles…until it’s out of control.

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been married for almost 35 years, and crocheted for62e1f42d3f808a79d7283d6a480605d5 around ten years before that. Lately, the stash had exploded from the walk-in closet in my office and begun to infiltrate every corner of the house. The couch in the office could barely be seen, there were baskets and bins on the floor, the breakfast bar looked like the discount table at the yarn shop, yarn was spilling off the end table in the family room, and I couldn’t close the lid of my storage ottoman.

I had four storage bins, two laundry baskets, a small wicker basket, a duffel bag, a few boxes, and the storage ottoman bursting with yarn.

Step One, get Handsome Husband to help me haul all the storage containers to the living  room.

Step Two, dump all yarn on the floor. This is reminiscent of what happened in fifth grade when a student’s desk was chronically messy. You’d come to school and discover Miss Vidas had dumped your desk contents on the floor, leaving you no option but to clean it up.

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This is after I filled a trash bag with odds and ends that were too small, tangled, or ratty even to donate to the thrift shop.

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Hello, Mount Yarn.

Step Three, commence to sortin’.

I started various piles. Cotton, lace/sock weight, worsted, crochet thread, chunky, sport weight…you yarnsters know the drill. This was especially necessary because I had partial balls or skeins of some yarns strewn throughout various locations, and I wanted to match them up so I knew if I had enough of a particular yarn to actually make anything.

Anything I didn’t totally love, or bought for things I never made, or didn’t have in enough quantity for a decent project went in the donation pile. I know people go to thrift shops for remnants or discarded yarn, either to make stashbuster projects, other small items, or to donate to charity.

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Big ol’ bag of donations. Included are two partial afghans which could be bound off where they are or finished.

Lots of yellow and orange. I hate yellow and orange. I bought multiple skeins, though, for some project or other that never got made.

Mozzie bolted at the rustle of the first plastic bag, because plastic bags are terrifying. He stayed in the bedroom throughout the process. Oliver, being a poodle, wasn’t about to miss a second, because poodles must observe, evaluate, consider, and process every single thing. Thankfully, he didn’t decide to help.

I applied the rule I give all my authors when I’m ordering them to drastically edit down their word count. Be ruthless. Be objective. You won’t even miss it once it’s gone. Great advice, but hard to follow.

Also, not great on my back, sitting hunched on the floor, crawling around from basket to basket, digging through the mound of assorted yarn. But that’s what ibuprofen is for.

Finally, after sorting through it all and encountering some projects I’d started–no lie–at least 25 years ago and putting sentimentality and unnecessary yarn aside, I reached Step Four, organization. This is what I had…

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Behold! A mere two storage bins! The top one has worsted weight and cotton. The bottom has fine and sport weight, crochet cotton, and a bag of assorted Caron Simply Soft. The storage ottoman, which lives in the family room where I spend 95% of my waking hours, has the favorites, new purchases like the glorious mandala yarn, my knit-kit and crochet gear, and the yarns I’m currently using. The two small boxes are the beautiful Chroma yarn I just bought for my first knitting projects.

And now I realize I have room for more yarn…and a coupon for 20% off from JoAnn’s.

Yarn O’Clock Update

I have fifteen more pages to edit, and need to check email again, but the UPS guy just came. My first clue was the Direwolves barking hysterically. Tom wants to get a security camera for the front door, but we already have the Canine Emergency Broadcast System. But I guess a camera would let me know if it’s UPS, a random neighbor, or a SWAT team at the door without getting off the couch, so we shall see.

But look what arrived!

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Oops. I seem to have accidentally acquired more yarn. Well, not totally true, as this was the first “cake” style yarn I bought, but it was back ordered, so I found and ordered the luscious Chroma Worsted Yarn by Knit Picks I talked about HERE earlier today.

It’s Lion Brand Mandala yarn, and the color is “gnome.” I’d have bought it for the color name itself. Seriously, look at it. If you love yarn even a little bit, you’d have done the same. Even if you don’t love yarn, you want someone to make you something with this yarn. Don’t lie; I know you do.

It appears the color sequence only repeats once per ball, though, which means I should make something that takes at least 590 yards (5.3 ounces) of yarn, like a baby blanket or shawl, if I want to have all the colors represented, and I do.

Okay, time to clock back in, metaphorically speaking, so I can get to yarn o’clock!

Is It Yarn O’Clock Yet?

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Working at home is wonderful. Keep my own schedule as long as I get the job done, have my canine sidekicks/entourage with me all the time, no business casual or makeup, no commute.

There are some drawbacks, though, such as never really being “off,” the interruptions to do things like tend to the dogs–who are rather high-maintenance–Netflix, snacks, and Facebook.

Lately, my biggest distraction is…

Yarn.

If you’ve followed the blog, you know I’m a lifelong crocheter. (That word looks wrong. Trust me…I’m an editor and words are my business. But it’s not wrong. A person who crochets.) Then a couple of weeks ago, I began teaching myself to knit, first with some ragged, misshapen swatches, then a pretty decent-looking dishcloth which shall never see a dish because I spent hours on the thing, dammit.

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I’m a yarn hoarder. For crochet, though, I tended to stick to more basic brands, with Caron Simply Soft and Deborah Norville Everyday Print Yarn being a couple of favorites. I like to make big crochet projects, and balancing quality and cost is essential. But I always coveted some of the lovely boutique yarns many of my knitting friends used.

As I slowly build my knitting skills, I look for patterns that are very clearly knitted and don’t resemble any crochet style. If it looks like crochet, I can crochet something similar a hell of a lot faster than I can knit. It will be a long time before I knit consistently and quickly enough to justify doing an afghan.

Which means I’m doing small projects–again, sloooooowly–and I can justify buying more expensive, indulgent yarn.

Last week, I found Chroma Worsted Yarn by Knit Picks. It’s 70% wool, 30% nylon, and super soft and not at all itchy-woolly. And here’s the kicker…so many beautiful colors!

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More expensive than I’d usually buy, but as slowly as I currently knit, it will take me several decades to finish a scarf, so I decided to indulge. I bought five balls each of Vermont and Drawing Room.

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Vermont on the left has soft tones of pumpkin, teal, rose, and a heathery purple. Drawing room is grays and sage and lavender and aqua and cream. OMGGorgeous!

I needed a pattern that would work up not too slowly and wouldn’t look too much like crochet, and I chose a fan-and-feather scarf. I don’t wear scarves, but whatever. I might make an exception for this.

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Not blocked, of course, until it’s done (some time in 2056, I estimate). Experienced knitters will see the error where instead of two rows of knit followed by a row of purl I did a row of knit and two rows of purl, but I decided to leave it and keep going. 99.9% of people would never notice. This is in the Vermont yarn.

But that’s my dilemma. I have an edit I must finish today, and the work emails continue to flow, but this yarn is calling to me. I needed a new challenge, and knitting is challenging and satisfying. So is editing, but editing doesn’t involve oh-so-lovely yarn.

Now I have to be a grownup and put on my editing tiara, finish the edit, return it to the author for review…and then I can play with the beautiful yarn.

A Knack For Knitting?

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Never stop learning, right? Years ago, I taught myself basic knitting, but other than my sample swatch, I never pursued it, and it’s now thoroughly forgotten.

I crochet. In fact, I’d go so far as to call myself an expert. If I can find a pattern, I can crochet it. I’ve made countless afghans, hats, bags, doilies, decorative items, even a 62-inch lace tablecloth. I love taking a ball of yarn and turning it into something useful or beautiful.

I decided I needed a new skill, another hobby, preferably something I can do on the couch while watching Netflix, so rock-climbing or paddle-boarding were immediately ruled out. I’m 53, out of shape, and my bones are probably as brittle as stale bread sticks, so knitting is really more my speed.

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I should’ve decided this five years ago when I still lived in Minnesota, because my friend Jess is an excellent knitter, and having someone show me and help point out flaws in my technique would be valuable. My daughter-in-law was here a few months ago and knows how to knit, but she’s a leftie, and I suspect that could present difficulties in teaching me. Besides, I didn’t know I wanted to learn to knit at the time.

I don’t really know anyone in North Carolina well enough to do the “hey, teach me to knit and I will reward you with rum and puppy snuggles” thing. I don’t even know if any of my acquaintances know how to knit, which tells you how well I don’t know people.

Enter the internet. You can learn anything online, often things you’d be better off not knowing. I started watching tutorials, but most of them are extremely annoying.

First, it’s too much like interacting with a human, which I avoid. I don’t even watch people’s video posts on Facebook.

Second, even when they’re going slowly, they can be hard to follow. Every time I need to pause or rewind to play again, I have to put down the needles and then try to get them positioned correctly again, which is still hard.

And third, every single damned knitter seems to have a unique way of holding the needles and guiding the yarn. Seriously, Google “how to hold knitting needles and yarn,” and you’ll see 145,990 different ways.

Yes, the result is the same. This needle has to go here, in this way, and the yarn has to go around here and through there, but everyone has a different method of achieving this. My crochet style is technically incorrect by some standards, the way I hold the hook and maneuver the yarn, but I’ve made it work, and I know I’ll have to do the same for knitting. I have a feeling if I had someone to show me, though, I could make changes to my technique that would make this a hell of a lot easier.

I know how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off, but so far I’m only practicing the knit stitch. I want to be able to produce neat, uniform rows of stitches, and then I’ll move on to something else.

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I clearly have a long way to go, possibly several light-years. I think I should watch some more videos (grumble) and instead of trying to follow along, just observe how the instructor works, how they hold the needles and manage the yarn.

I’ve been crocheting for around 40 years, and I know it’s unreasonable to expect to be knitting lacy wraps or complex cable work in a day. But I hate not being great at something, and I want to be able to download everything there is to know about knitting directly into my head right this minute.

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I could make this by this weekend, right?

I feel like I need an extra hand or three extra fingers. I also know if when I finally get a grip on this, I’ll spend a stupid amount of money on knitting needles and knitting accessories, because I never do anything by half. Maybe I should go ahead and start shopping–online, of course–because even if the whole Queen of Knitting thing never pans out, the needles would be handy in the apocalypse.

Do you knit? When did you learn? Do you have any favorite resources for beginning knitters?

So far, my biggest accomplishment is not poking myself in the eyeball with one of the needles, but it’s been close a couple of times, and it’s a good thing I wear glasses.

Craft Therapy

My job and my personality are a great fit. I’m nit-picky and obsessive, and my brain likes to be doing a thousand things at once. The problem is, it never stops. Ever. While I have a hard time getting it rolling in the morning, it’s like a freight train. Once it gains momentum, slowing it down is–well, pretty much like stopping a freight train. Since hitting the liquor stash at noon is frowned-upon, I must employ a different distraction. I crochet.

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True. When the apocalypse strikes–and it will–sooner or later all the pre-made items will be scavenged, and we’ll be back to having to make our own. If you’re nice to me, I’ll make you socks.

Crochet’s not cool, is it? It’s for little old ladies in rocking chairs, draped in a shawl (which she crocheted) and surrounded by doilies. This definitely isn’t me. I don’t have a rocking chair.

My mom was an avid crocheter. She made afghans and bedspreads and holiday decor as far back as I can remember. But she was left-handed, and it was hard for her to teach me. I finally got the basics in a junior high home ec class, and it’s been part of my life ever since.

When I’ve been editing and writing and dealing with mountains of work email and need to whoa it down, crochet is my go-to coping strategy. I put an interesting or old favorite TV series on and settle in. I like serial TV better than movies, because part of my social dysfunction is I have some degree of face-blindness. I have a hard time distinguishing individual people, particularly if they are of similar age and appearance. I’ve found I tend to distinguish people by voice, which makes TV series ideal to pair with crochet, since I’m not looking at the screen a lot of the time anyway.

I’ve also recently rediscovered drawing, something I enjoyed a lot when I was in school,22426493_10212830143360855_1766052432900575989_o but crochet is currently front and center in my craft world. I was making a lot of doilies and other lacework for a while, the largest piece being a 62″ diameter round tablecloth that took me eight months to complete. It’s in my closet, because I haven’t gotten around to working in the ends and blocking it, and because I really have little use for a fancy lace tablecloth. But it was a lovely pattern, I’d never made a tablecloth, and I wanted to see if I could do it.

I’ve been making hats and bags and some other assorted things for the Colonial Capital Humane Society thrift shop, because they went above and beyond to pull Oliver from a risky situation and paired him with us. They work so hard every day for the homeless animals in our area, and rely solely on donations and the revenue from their thrift shop.

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I taught myself basic knitting several years ago, which I’ve now forgotten, but I’m thinking of learning again. I also tried Tunisian crochet, which is sort of a knit-crochet hybrid, but need to refresh my memory on that also.

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The older I get, the more I fit the stereotype of the old lady in a rocking chair. I also fit the stereotype of a yarn hoarder. I have four large plastic storage bins, a laundry basket, a duffel bag, and a storage ottoman stuffed with yarn. I’ve been trying to exercise some self-control and use yarn from the stash to make the bags and hats and such for the humane society, but eventually I didn’t have enough of the preferred colors in the right yarn to make what I wanted, and ordered more.

The internet is priceless when it comes to things like this. I have infinite free patterns only a click away, and I can order the perfect yarn for every project. Unlimited possibilities and an immediate-gratification-based personality means a lot of debits showing up on my bank account. But I have yarn!

In fact, it might be a key symptom of the psychosis that I actually have a favorite yarn. I found it a few years ago and made a shawl, which I later turned into a window covering for my office. I love it.

It has my three favorite colors (turquoise, bright green, and purple) and I would crochet slipcovers for all my furniture out of it if I could. Turns out it’s excellent for the bag style I’ve been making lately, so I ordered more. Yes…more. I’m definitely keeping one of these bags.

9b64c1c355e1eb09ea053f31e8e741b8--crochet-tools-how-to-crochetPerhaps even more significant than the size of the yarn stash or the fact I have a favorite yarn is…I have a favorite kind of crochet hook. And I only know this because I have an entire bag full of every kind of hook you can imagine. Broad, tapered, steel, aluminum, bamboo, ergonomic, Tunisian–I even have a whole set of hooks in which the end lights up so you can work with dark yarn in poor lighting.

But the two main styles are Boye and Bates, and I’m very firmly #TeamBoye. I have at least two in the full range of sizes, from tiny enough to work lace to hooks as thick as my thumb, because if I lose one, I need to be certain I have a spare.

Crochet is perfect for quieting a hyperactive mind. It engages enough of my brain to divide my focus, and combined with something on TV,  it prevents me from spinning in that perpetual loop that makes me stressed and anxious. The soothing repetition of the pattern, counting stitches in the back of the mind…it’s all very therapeutic.

Not as good as several strong drinks, but when you’re done, you have something pretty to show for it besides an empty liquor cabinet and a hangover.

Do you knit or crochet? Is it a new hobby or something you grew up doing? What’s the most impressive thing you ever made? Did you keep it or give it away?

Does the following paragraph make sense to you?

Work shell st in ch 1 sp of first V st. *V st in center dc of next shell st, shell st in ch 1 sp of next V st. Repeat from * across. End with dc in last ch of turning chain. Ch 3 and turn.

If it does, you’re part of the tribe!