Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This is not a yarn diet, but....

I have been thinking an awful lot about my stash since Ravelry
  • Forced me/gave me a place to organize and catalog what I have.
  • Enabled me to buy more by showing me new yarns, new projects, and lovely links and discounts to new retailers.
  • Hosted discussions about materialism and stash, stash-busting, and yarn diets.

If you’ve read any knit blogs at all, I’m sure you’ve seen this by now: The World’s Biggest Stash. When the pictures were posted on Ravelry, I thought a person could write a sociological study on the reactions knitters had to it. Some thought it was the greatest thing ever and wished she could aspire to such a stash. Some thought the Stash Owner was a mentally ill hoarder on the level of that poor woman on Oprah who hoarded 10,000 square feet of stuff into a 3000 square foot house. And some used the picture to spin off threads about how “excessive” stash was yet another product of the materialism that runs rampant in this country. All very interesting stuff that made me examine how I felt about my own stash.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the very idea that someone else gets to pronounce judgment on how much yarn someone has is disconcerting. If I feel comfortable with my stash, it’s no one else’s business but mine and the person I share my home and my finances with. I actually think that woman's stash is awesome, a true artist's studio. And yet as we get to the time of year where we make all kinds of good-intentioned resolutions, I am going to closely examine my stash and where my yarn money goes. I don’t feel comfortable with how many posts in this blog have received the label of “yarn shopping” this year. This is not a diet. This is not exactly a year of stash-busting either. But for now, here are the rules.

I may purchase yarn if

  • I have a gift card (which I do, both for Natural Stitches and Jimmy Beans Wool, go me).
  • It is needed for a gift and I have looked in my stash first.
  • It is something I am totally and completely sure I will not be able to get at a later date and I absolutely love it (keeping in mind that I am a member of the 2008 Rockin Sock Club and the Chewy Spaghetti Blue Plate Special and if that doesn’t satisfy my jonesing for “new and exclusive” I don’t know what will).
  • It is a special occasion, like the Pittsburgh Knitting Festival.
  • It is Malabrigo (sorry, I can’t stay away from this crack. I will try, though).

I will try to stash-bust in the following ways

  • I will haul out the stash and put it where I can see and access it, not stuffed in one cabinet, thus preventing me from throwing up my hands and saying “I have no suitable hat yarn” and running off to the store. I will also be honest about the projects I plan to complete and put all the yarn I have for them into my Ravelry stash.
  • I will knit from stash throughout the year, interspersing large projects with small, and putting projects away into a “Long Term Planning Box” ala The Yarn Harlot, thus preventing a yarn binge in October and November and subsequent frantic knitting for Christmas 2008 (because, dude, I still haven’t finished Christmas 2007).
  • I will embark on some charity knitting such as the Dulaan Project.

Okay, so I’m posting this on my blog to keep myself honest. Let’s see how long I can go.

PS: I want a new knitting bag, one that does not scream "Here is my cheap knitting bag from Joann's!" (okay, I actually like my cheap Joann's bag, but I want something I can use in all grownup, professional situations and still have some knitting on hand). Jordana Paige? Namaste? Everything is getting mixed reviews on Ravelry and I don't know what to do.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thumbless Toddler Mittens: In Which I Attempt to "Design"

I’ve been on a mission, in between the frenzy of Christmas knitting, to find the Perfect Toddler Mitten pattern. My requirements:

  • Must be easy to put on a moving toddler
  • Must stay on said moving toddler
  • Must not be easy to lose

It turns out that finding this pattern was harder than I thought, in part because I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cannot get my squirmy toddler’s thumb to fit into a thumb gusset. I just needed something to stick over his hands so they’d stay warm while we’re out walking with the stroller.

I ended up adapting Louisa Harding’s pattern from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. The original is knit with a light DK weight yarn and worked flat and then seamed. My version is knit with a light worsted and converted to be worked in the round. I don’t know if my changes are substantial enough to be considered a new pattern (please weigh in on this in the comments section if you can), so with apologies to Louisa Harding, here is my adaptation. This is my first substantial attempt at changing a pattern/design, so please be gentle.

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (I used two colors, you can use whatever strikes your fancy)
Needles: Size 4 US DPNs, Size 7 US DPNs
Gauge: Not sure it matters for toddler mittens!

With Size 4 needles, CO 32 stitches in Color 1, place marker, and join for working in the round.

Work in K2, P2 ribbing for three inches (this creates a cuff that can extend down the wrist or can be folded as desired).

Increase round: Work 4 stitches in rib, M1 around.

Change to Size 7 needles (and Color 2 if desired). Knit around until hand is just short of desired length. (To determine this, hold your squirmy toddler down and measure from wrist to fingertip. Then let said Toddler wander off with your new Lantern Moon sheep tape measure, which he will then promptly put in the cat’s water dish.)

Decrease for top of Hand
Change back to Color 1 if desired.

Place a second marker in the middle of the round.

Round 1: K3tog tbl, knit to 3 stitches before marker 2, K3tog, K3tog tbl, K to last three stitches of the round, K3tog.

Round 2: Knit

Rounds 3 and 4: Repeat Rounds 1 and 2.

Round 5: K2tog tbl, knit to 2 stitches before marker 2, K2tog, K2tog tbl, K to last two stitches of the round, K2tog.

Round 6: Knit

Rounds 7 and 8: Repeat Rounds 5 and 6

Cut yarn, thread tail through remaining stitches and secure.

This is a rough prototype, so please let me know if you see any mistakes. My plan is to knit the second the same as the first and join them with a three stitch I-cord.

Of course, when I showed the mitten to The Toddler, he shook his head and walked off. Your Toddler May Vary.

Malabrigo is the New Crack

Crafts 055,
originally uploaded by bookscatsyarn.
I took a break from Christmas Knitting to cast on for Foliage, from last fall's Knitty. I love Malabrigo. I love the softness. I love the colors. I even love the price. I can't walk out of Natural Stitches without a hank of it in my bag.

Crafts 055

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So how's that Christmas Knitting coming along?

  1. Gigantic Garter Rib Socks: ALL DONE!
  2. Clapotis: I don't think it's going to happen before Christmas. I got way too ambitious with this one, and when I realized how bad it was getting, I confessed to my mom what was happening and she ordered me to put it aside and finish everyone else's gifts.
  3. Fetching and Calorimetry: ALL DONE!
  4. Thuja: Despite The Toddler, I should be able to finish these tonight or tomorrow. I just have one foot and toe to complete.
  5. Gentlemen's Fancy Socks: Yep, I have the yarn.
  6. Child's Sweater Vest: Have I mentioned I have the yarn?
So obviously, these final two are not going to be even cast on before Christmas. I whipped up a pair of Men's Handwarmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts to stand in for the socks. For Henry's vest, I started a pair of mittens adapted from Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Babies. I'm actually kind of excited about these; I've changed the pattern so much it might almost be an original design that I'll share here after Christmas.

I've been thinking a lot about stash and projects for the New Year, and avoiding this situation next year (!), so look for entries on that soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I turned my back just for a minute....

....and The Toddler pulled out two of the three DPNs on my Thuja sock. And put the stitch marker in his mouth.

You would think I would have learned by now.

I'd update the status of my Christmas Knitting, but I think I hear The Toddler playing in the toilet. More later.