Thursday, December 21, 2006


The other day, I mentioned to a non-knitting co-worker that I was thinking of knitting myself a hat from some leftover yarn I had in my stash. My co-worker gave me a funny look and said that if my stash was really as big as I claim, couldn't I find something to make the hat without having to use leftovers? I explained that not using the leftovers for small projects would be wasting yarn, and left it at that.

Thinking about it, though, crafters are big on using scraps. Knitters make hats or scarves or stripes in sweaters with bits of yarn too small to make something big. Quilters are famous for using cut up clothing or scraps left from making clothing. Though the modern quilter gets most if not all of her/his fabric from the LQS, scrap quilts are still very popular. Some quilters even make charm quilts, where no two pieces of fabric are the same.

When we finish a project, the remaining supplies go back into stash to marinate a while longer. We'd never dream of throwing it away! I know, I know, the idea made me feel faint, too. Go get a drink. I'll wait. (This, btw, is exactly what my SIL is trying to get my DB to do, throw out the yarn he has left from finished knitting.)

We wouldn't throw our yarn, or fabric, or unspun fiber away because that's exactly the opposite of the point! We love the stuff. We touch it, pet it, fondle it, sniff it, even threaten to roll around in it. We have our stashes because we want to surround ourselves with it. Some of us only do the crafting to justify having the stash in the first place.

It's more than that, though. We like to use the leftovers because they remind us of the previous project. If I enjoy making a sweater and then later put that yarn into another sweater, I'll think of the two projects together. If I use a great green fabric in a second or third quilt, that project will be linked to the previous quilts in my mind. (Again, this is something people often think of with quilts made from clothes--there's Grandma's apron, Mom's first dress, etc.)

Do you think my hat will be warmer with the echos of old projects knit into it?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's the Process, Stupid!*

I am a list-maker. I have a to-do list at work, a to-pack list when I'm getting ready for vacation, and a running shopping list on my fridge. And, often, a to-craft list.

Not a good idea.

A couple of years ago, I got fed up with how many WIPs I have. (To me a WIP is a project I have started and not finished, but also not given up on. I hop from project to project much too frequently to say it's a UFO if I haven't worked on it in a month--I might pick it up again tomorrow.) So, I crawled through my closet, pulling out project after project, any craft. And came up with a staggering total:



So, I decided I had to do something about that. I only removed things off the list after I actually got it out of the closet, one way or another. I pulled out a couple of things. I "finished" a few things, even if they weren't exactly according to original plan. And, I gave a couple of things away.

I also ... ahem ... started a few new things. Because I was finishing things, right?

So, at the end of this year-long process I had:


Because this was soo successful (not!), tried it again for a couple more years. What did I get?


I don't think this is working...

So, at the beginning of this year, I tried a different approach. I listed a few things I wanted to finish by the end of the year. With, er, less than stellar results. Rehash, with pictures to come.

So, no more lists. Now I just need to figure out what to do with numbered notepads...

*Apologies to Margene for abusing her motto!

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Did you ever put something off until you could do a really good job? Until you could get it perfect?

This is why I haven't blogged since August. I kept thinking of things to write, but never actually did it. I'd think, "Well, if I mention this project, I should mention that one, and this one, and... and..." The 'ands' would paralyze me.

So now, if I want to write, I'm going to write. Hopefully you'll get a coherent picture of what I'm doing.


I swear, my Trekking socks are jinxed.

A few weeks ago, DH and I babysat our nephew. I took the sock along. I figured it would be simple enough to do while a bit distracted, but not so simple it would be boring when not distracted.

It worked, at first. Then I went to pick it up, and one of my needles had disappeared! I had put it on the back of the couch for just a few minutes, and C. hadn't been anywhere near it. I started fishing around under the cushions. No needle. I got up and looked on the floor all around, and under, the couch. I started pulling cushions off the couch and tossing them on the floor, to the delight of C. (he's two). No joy. Finally, I had to admit that the couch had eaten my needle.

See? Jinxed!

(The happy postscript is that this weekend I got a voice mail from my brother, saying that C. had somehow found my needle, so I have it back now. I guess the couch spit it out. Maybe bamboo isn't very tasty.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bad Trekker

Did you ever have a project that you didn't want to work on because you mentally associate it with something else?

This is what happened to my sock for Margene's Trek Along. I had a ball of Trekking that had been sitting in my closet for a year, and it's cries for attention were getting louder. So, I joined the Trek Along. I cast on for my sock on June 1, and was rolling along fairly quickly. I loved the yarn. I loved the feather and fan patterns I was using. Happy, happy, happy.

Then, I went on a camping trip with my family. I took my Trekking sock along to get the first of my 'trail pictures.' The picture above was taken June 12.

I spent the entire camping trip hudded in front of the campfire, not knowing why I seemed to have absolutely no energy whatsover. It turned out that I was coming down with the shingles. Again.

I've thought about picking up the sock. I've tried telling myself how pretty it is, how comfortable it will be, how much fun it is to watch the random color changes. But, I just have no desire to go back to those socks.

Sorry, Margene.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It’s hot here.(Note: I admit right upfront, that I am a wuss. When I say hot, I’m talking about temperatures that many people around the country would think are “nice.”) Like most of the rest of the country, we’re having a heat wave. Temperatures have hit the mid to high nineties, and I feel like I’m about to melt into a little puddle of Judy-goo.

So, what’s the problem? This:

I am about halfway through sewing down the binding on my first quilt. It’s a little quilt, the sides aren’t very long, and I’d really like to finish it. It’s exciting to finish a project (especially since I don’t seem to do it very often), but it’s HOT. I don’t want the quilt on my lap, not even a little bit. I’m having a hard time reconciling the desire to finish with the lack of interest in getting anywhere near a quilt.

So, I’ve been chipping away at it, a little at a time. Right now I’m hoping to finish by Friday, as that’s when my new recliner arrives. It’s a pretty blue, and should look nice with the quilt folded across the back.

And, the recliners (one for DH, too) will be for our basement family room. Where it’s cool.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I love my handknit socks. I wear them 10 months of the year (living in the PNW means we have cooler summers than a lot of areas). July, though, isn’t one of those months. I’m reduced to my lightweight store-bought socks, as I’m a dedicated sock-wearer, and I don’t do nylons unless absolutely necessary.

Margene mentioned that I spin sock yarn on my spindle. That’s one of my most satisfying projects, from beginning to end. I actually take natural colored superwash wool roving, dye it in my crockpot, then spin the yarn and knit it. I’ve done a few pairs this way now, and they are just to die (dye?) for! They are my favorite socks, hands down, but they also wear out much more quickly than my commercial-yarn socks.

I have two pairs of these socks right now. Well, three if you count the pair I did with non-superwash as an experiment. (These socks went through the wash a few times before noticeable felting, but they are so dense and warm that I only wear them on the chilliest days of the year.) The pair in blues and greens (pictures to come this evening, I promise!) are done in merino, and the pinks and purples are out of corridale. I think the corridale will wear better than the merino, but this is my first pair, so I don’t really know yet.

I have another batch of roving on the spindle, but this is intended as a birthday gift for my mother. She’s a sock knitter too, so she’ll get it as yarn. Yellow is her favorite color. I intended the yarn to be a little lighter than it is, but I had a bit of an accident at the dye pot, with more yellow dye joining the party than was invited.

The best part of this project, to my mind, is watching the colors change over and over again as I go through the different stages. Once I start the fiber “cooking” in the crockpot, I usually peek once or twice at the color on the top layer. I’m always impatient to see the fiber, so it’s hard to wait the 2-3 hours I let it cook. I hang the roving over the shower curtain rack to dry (usually overnight), and again, I keep looking at the colors, as they usually lighten up as the wool dries.

The colors do fascinating things on the spindle, where they start blending as I draft. As some strands get pulled forward, the fiber on the second end of the strand gets blended with the strands that stays in my hand longer. (I hope that makes sense.) And then again, they blend further when I ply them together.

Finally, they make a random self-striping yarn that looks a lot one type of the Trekking yarn, though I prefer to think that the Trekking yarn looks like my handspun, natch!

I’m not wearing my wool socks right now, but I’m still knitting them. I have too many on the needles—I’ll have to round them up for a group picture. No handspun at the moment, not until I finish Mom’s yarn and spin up another batch for myself. I’ve got about a month. I’d better get spinning, or I’ll be finishing it the night before, as I usually do.

I’m not a warm weather creature. No, let me change that. I’m not a hot weather creature, but my definition of ‘hot’ starts at a lower temperature than many people’s. I miss my handknits during the warm weather, and can’t wait to get back to wearing them.

Like my socks.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Getting My Groove Back

I'm feeling "Much Better Now." (Does anyone else remember how John Astin's character on Night Court kept showing up, saying something completely bizarre, and then saying he was "much better now"? Or is it just me?) The sun is shining, spring has come, and life in general has emerged from the 'winter blahs.' A lot of my crafting blahs went along with them.

I've also realized that my enormous, can't-fit-completely-in-the-closet-anymore, big-@ss stash is distracting me too much.

Now, I have a short attention span. Not the type that needs new input every ten minutes, but the type that doesn't want to finish one sweater before starting another. So, I literally have over 60 projects that I have started and not yet finished. That does count all my crafts, though, not just knitting, and a handful of those are in my mostly-abandoned cross stitch stash. It doesn't count the many projects I bought the supplies for but managed to restrain myself from starting.

That's a lot of distraction.

So, I've started evaluating my stash, and packing a lot of it away to be stored indefinitely in the garage. So far I have four 70-gallon tubs filled with yarn, and I need another one or two. I also have four tubs filled with fiber stash, and a foot locker already in the garage. I'm still leaving a lot of yarn on the shelves, probably 2-3 years worth of projects. All of my sock yarn is staying in the house (except for leftovers). My Dale ski sweaters are packed away, but my lighter Dales are still inside. My Alice Starmore fair isle projects are inside.

I was discussing this scheme with a semi-crafty coworker, and she asked, "What if you don't get to the stuff in the garage?" I said, "Then I can get rid of them with a clear conscience."

Even though I'm not done with the Great Yarn Migration, I feel much calmer now. Less pressured.

And now I have room on those shelves for quilting fabric!

And Now for Something Completely Different

You know you're a spinner when, upon hearing that TomKat named their child Suri, not only do you think they've named the girl after an alpaca, you see nothing strange with that.

The Find

Last Saturday, my mother and I visited a yarn shop near her house that I'd never been to. As we walked in, the woman behind the counter told us they were having a "garage sale," and we should be sure to check it out. Apparently several of their customers had cleaned out their stashes and were offering them for sale. There was a huge pile of bags of yarn, mostly leftovers from finished projects. A bag of assorted sock yarn tempted me briefly. Mom scored a large back of pretty blue stuff. (I don't remember what it was, sorry.) Some of the labels looked older than me--we all know how things can 'age' in our stash.

I didn't find anything compelling in the yarn, but noticed a pile of books, and started to leaf through them. There were a couple of new ones, but most were older and a little worn.

And there it was.

I think I managed to hide my reaction, after my initial jaw drop. Mom says I looked very calm. I showed her the book, and she said, "Oh, Alice Starmore..."

I shushed her quickly, and asked the clerk about the price. The yarn was all marked, but the books weren't. She consulted a list and said, "That one isn't marked, so how about five dollars?"


So, that's how The Scottish Collection by Alice Starmore came to live with me. For five dollars.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I'm in a bit of a quandary right now. I've been playing solitaire on my computer rather than pull out any of my needlework projects. Now, solitaire is addictive, but it's not so addictive that I shouldn't put it down and go on to other stuff.

And I realized--I'm not having fun with my needlework right now. I'm frustrated. And I really don't know what to do.

With my knitting, I've got two projects nearly, nearly done. And I can't stand to look at either of them. The cure for that is simply time. I'll pick them up again in a few days.

My one really tempting knitting project is out of handspun, but I'm at a standstill there, too: I'm out of yarn, and can't spin more until this sore tailbone (slid down half a flight of stairs holding a cat, thus unable to put my hands out to stop myself) heals and I can sit in the right position. That should be just a few more days. I hope.

My current applique block (I'm working on an album quilt with twelve different blocks) has a difficult shape, repeated four times. I'm still a beginner, so this is sort of like eating my vegetables--I want to get it done, so I can go on to other stuff, but at the same time, I don't really want to do it.

As much as I'm a process crafter, I can't get myself to simply enjoy each stitch for its own sake--I find I have to be into the larger process. On the other hand, I'm such a process crafter that I'm struggling with my recent push to finish things. I have many, many too many projects started but not finished, and this bothers me, but so does trying to steer myself into something just to finish it.

So, I'm stumped. (I have some non-crafting things on my mind, too, that are probably feeding this feeling.) I really, really want to chuck it all out the window and start something new, but I know that's not going to help for very long, and then the new thing just turns into another UFO.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006


For a couple of months, I’ve had a Lopi cardigan almost finished. All it needed was the steek sewn and cut, the buttonbands and collar knitted, and the ends woven in. I know a lot of people hang up here. The steek.

I’m chicken. I admit it.

I’m afraid of my sewing machine.

Most people who tremble at steeks are afraid to cut all that gorgeous knitting. It does give me pause, but I’d rather reknit my whole sweater than fire up the sewing machine and run my knitting through it.

(Yes, I am a quilter. This is why I do everything by hand. When I found out that I was expected to sew my bias strips into a tube by machine, I thought I’d been tricked. Anyway…)

My machine’s favorite trick in the past has been to make enormous knots in the bobbin thread on the inside of my sweater. I mean, I have dust bunnies smaller than these knots, and that’s saying somethin’.

So, I pulled the bobbin out, and poked and prodded and grumbled until I realized I’d been putting it in wrong! I blame the manual.

After some further discussion with the machine about feed dogs, electricity (oh, you want to be plugged in?) and other issues, I managed a pair of seams. They’re fairly shaky, but there’s two of them, and they’re both in the steek stitches rather than the body of the sweater.

And after that, I took Elizabeth Zimmermann’s advice, and went into a dark room to lie down.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I'm ignoring that last post. It didn't happen. For that matter, December didn't happen. Well, except for the stocking I knitted for my dad. That happened, finished on the 24th. Of course.

On St. Distaff Day last Saturday I went to a huge spin-in sponsored by Northwest Regional Spinners Association. As usual, I came home with more stuff than I took. I'm not quite sure how it happens--the fiber just jumps in my arms, and then I have to take the sweet, affectionate stuff home. It's not my fault. Really.

I've been on a spinning kick ever since. Quilting? Nah. Applique? Nope. Knitting? Well, maybe, if done with handspun. Spinning? Yes! Especially spinning this purple-y stuff, which I started knitting a sweater out of. I didn't *intend* to start a new project. But I really wanted to see what the yarn would look like knitted up, and the yarn told me right away what sweater it wanted to be, so I had to cast on, right? (Are you noticing a theme here? Not my fault. I didn't do it.)

Words You *Don't* Want to Hear

From DH: "Ewww! Someone [one of our cats] puked on your quilt table!" Luckily, there was no permanent damage done. A manila folder caught the mess. And my heart started right back up again.