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Remembrance Yarn

Once again, I have acquired some yarn I didn't really need. This happens to me a lot, and, if you're a Textile Artist (i.e. you make stuff with yarn—dishcloths and baby hats count) and you have been at it for more than a week then it has undoubtedly happened to you, too (so don't look so smug, yes. you!)

I often find myself accumulating completely unnecessary yarn when:

  • I am on vacation and am self-congratulatory about what a useful souvenir I am buying for a change

  • I haven't seen those nice people at the local yarn store (LYS) for a while, and wouldn't dream of leaving empty-handed after forcing them to hear me natter on for 10 minutes about my latest difficult project

  • I am not on vacation, but I am at an unfamiliar LYS, and feel obliged to buy something (either as a souvenir or apology for nattering, my brain doesn't care)

  • someone at my social knitting group is giving away yarn, and I don't hate the colour or fiber

  • There is a yarn sale to benefit a good cause, so I can feel like I am doing my bit

And I'm not evening counting all the yarn that got into my stash for Very Good Reasons that I now no longer recall, so they're essentially unnecessary skeins by this point, even if, at first, they seemed urgent. (I was thrilled to move a skein yesterday from the mental "oops" pile to the mental "ah, of course!" pile when I realised it was to be paired with a not-yet-mailed-to-me set of two cupcakes*).

P.S. Photo of stash below, sorted by project. Boxes are two-deep, and exclude active projects (which are in lovely decorative baskets nearer to my chair), unsorted skeins (only about two bins' worth) and the Cascade 220 bin, because it's useful to have a bazillion balls of yarn in the same weight and different colours, or at least that's what I tell myself and I'm sure I'll be proven true eventually. Eagle eyes will note that three up from the bottom right is my stash of hexagons for my Persian Dreams blanket, not actually a stash of yarn.

Anyway: last week there was a yarn sale to benefit a good cause, so I bought more yarn. It was a good cause, but there was a sad reason: a friend (one of my social knitting buddies) had passed away the year before, and the local Knitter's Guild raised money by selling her stash. Janis was an extraordinary knitter—extraordinary person, really—who had won the Lifetime Volunteer of the Year Award just a few months prior for her working making (or co-ordinating the making) of baby hats and blankets for local hospitals, among many, many other endeavours.

So I have a whole new yarn acquisition reason now:

  • to remember a friend by.

Turns out some of the yarn in the sale might have originally belonged to someone other than Janis, since a few of the volunteers very sensibly took advantage of the opportunity to destash a bit and raise some extra funds for the cause—but that's okay. Whether I have a skein that Janis herself chose, or one that she unravelled (she was great at finding used handknits and repurposing), or one that was thrust upon her, or one that she never saw in her life, I'll still be remembering her when I use it, or when I wear whichever project it becomes. (And by "it" I mean "them." I didn't go to a yarn sale and buy only one skein. As if.)

Two (trust me, there's one behind it) of the new skeins. This is the tip of the iceberg.

On the same weekend that Janis' stash went to new homes, my mother held an estate sale—she's moved to new digs and, as far as I can tell, has left about 90% of her possessions behind, despite not-actually-downsizing-at-all in terms of square footage—though to be fair, some of those possessions were my father's, and Mom probably doesn't need 873 screwdrivers and 4 compound miter saws, and I strongly suspect neither did he, come to that.

We used an online auction house (MaxSold) to manage the event, and I was impressed with how smoothly it all went. 96% of the lots sold, and 98% of the lots walked out of the house on Sunday (some of the bidders were happy to take home some of the Free lots left over). Compared to a garage sale, we did very well, especially since the goal was to declutter, not to make a fortune (though we made enough to pay for the auction house and then some). Just spreading the word, in case some of you need to reduce—I was so happy these items were getting new homes, not going into the landfill. If you're curious about the process (which was originally confusing) write me.

In other news ...

I'm about halfway through an experimental hat where I'm essentially knitting a swatch into the middle as a feature (the swatch from a three-hour Japanese Stitch pattern class with Gayle Roehm). I knit a ribbing in a fun new colour, then "placed" my swatch, and picked up a stitch from it, then knit two together, then turned, then picked up another stitch, purled two together, and purled to the other side ... reached the other side of the swatch, picked up, purled two together, turned, picked up, knit two together.

You get the rhythm of the thing. But all the joins are icky. This is where being an intrepid but only an intermediate knitter gets me in trouble. Should I have picked up a stitch from the swatch, and then knit a stitch in the new colour through it, and connected the new stitches to the old stitches thusly? Would that look better? Should I have made a smaller pretend swatch and tested methods ahead of time (yes, and I did do that, but unfortunately I did it all in the same colour yarn: so I proved I could join the swatch but I couldn't tell that I didn't like the effect at the edges).

I will switch to the new method for the second half of the hat as I'm reconciled to trying to hide the join with a series of decorative crochet stitches around it (in perhaps a third colour, oooh!) Will keep you posted!

On the Needles (and actively being worked on):

  • Experimental Hat-with-Swatch (halfway through)

  • Sophie's Universe crochet project #1 (round 123, 10 rounds past the official finishing point as I wish to embiggen it so it fits my bed)

  • Caldwell Vest (finished the pre-shaping part of the back)

  • Persian Dreams Blanket (finished Hexagon 8, about to cast on Hexagon 9)

  • Itineris Shawl (I'll pretend it's a scarf. I've just finished the third repeat)

  • Grey Intarsia Vest (my own pattern, almost finished the first set of squares which will be more like rectangles, I think)


*cupcake = a small ball of gradient yarn, essentially a small cake (which is a larger ball of gradient yarn).

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