A Priest Crafts Episode 5: Carding and Rambling

Good day, friends.

That last post exorcised whatever was holding me back from crafting at all, and I’ve tentatively picked up a few things. I’ve even found some time to make a new vlog post for you.

Believe it or not, after that post asking which project I should start next, I decided on the big carding effort. I got through six whole ounces of carding before I petered out, but now I’m motivated to pick it back up. In this video I talk about and demonstrate some of that carding project, and I talk about some of these big life changes during a complicated time of year.

I think I was really sleepy when I recorded this – sleepier than I realized. Some things going on with the kids have meant even less sleep than usual, so please forgive me if I look half-asleep. I know I ramble on even more than usual! But it was a lot of fun for me to share this with you, so I hope you enjoy it.

Hand Carding Resources:

If you’re new to hand carding, I hope my little demo piqued your interest. But please get more input than what I have to say.

Beth Smith’s book, The Spinner’s Book of Fleece, got me started. There are great basic introductions in this book to several fleece processing techniques, and of course a ton of info about spinning boku varieties of wool.

This tutorial, “Wool Carding and Combing” from Interweave is a long, free PDF. It has a more detailed introduction to both topics and I recommend reading it carefully.

Specifically on the topic of blending using handcards, Knitty had a great article on the subject in their Spring 2007 by Lorraine Smith: “Carding Beautiful Blends”.  But if you just google “blending with handcards,” you’ll find several lovely articles and blog posts to inspire you.

Additionally, get on YouTube and search for some handcarding videos. I did not do this myself as I found the still images were enough for me, but Beth Smith herself in her book recommends looking up some videos. If you find some you think are particularly helpful, would you please share in the comments?

Other Notes:

Rachel Smith is Wool N’ Spinning. Here is her blog, her youtube channel, her patreon, and the ravelry group. I know I’ve shared her stuff a lot, but right now her show is most of what is keeping me motivated to spin and prep, so I’m going to keep giving her shout outs.

Here is the blog post about the new color study. I love that Lakeside colorway too.

(Also, how cool is this! Rachel just posted the “Spinner’s Spotlight” bio I wrote for her.)

Katrina is CraftyJAKs. Here is her website, and her etsy shop.

And also a big shout-out to my mom, Linda. She did an awesome job at the Maryland Alpaca Festival this weekend. I always have her button in my sidebar to the left, but in case you didn’t know, she’s Colorstorms. She’s recently mastered indigo dyeing. She dyes yarn with only natural ingredients, and her colors get more saturated, colorfast, and lightfast every year.

What do you call pink + black? Hopefully not “plaque.” Happy crafting!

Not the Next Post I Thought I’d Write

So I have good news and… odd news.

The good news is, we're expecting again. Yay! Babies! To answer all the questions you are too polite to ask: 15.5 weeks at present, due mid-April; for sure just one; everyone says it's going to be a boy, but we'll find out (if possible) next month.

The other news… not bad, but just strange… is that I haven't been knitting. Or spinning. Or sewing. For a solid month now.

This baby, bless him/her, has been a bit of a personality transplant. I haven't been very nauseous (though I was more so six weeks ago), but I've had a sort of low-level feeling of illness that I can ignore most of the time by keeping busy. I only notice it when I sit down to knit.

That's right: knitting makes me sick.

The even weirder part is, I haven't missed it. It isn't as if I wanted to do all these crafty things and couldn't; for a while there, I didn't even remember why I would want to do something like that. 

The bit of knitting that has been sitting on the side table, staring at me with the empty eyes of an accusing cow. I finally had to put it away in a drawer because I would feel sick just looking at it. I don't even want to show you this picture, because, blegh.

 

The handspun I made in August for M's vest. I started thinking it was the colors – orange plus blue? But I think cause and effect has worked the other way. Because this project has been making me nauseous for so long, I now cringe when I see anything orange and blue together.

 

I did get through a whole six ounces of carding before also dropping that like a hot potato.

It looks redder in person.

But by halfway through September, I didn't want to touch it anymore. Spinzilla was off the table. I couldn't even follow the action: by early October, even scrolling through Instagram looking at other people's yarn was making me queasy.

I was entertaining thoughts of some sealskin sewing, and somehow talked my husband into buying the skins I need for making kamiik. These are sealskin boots, the pinnacle of Inuit sewing skill, and I don't know what makes me think this is a good time to start some.

So I wasn't crafting, and I wasn't missing it. I wasn't feeling guilty about it. I was just… resting. My body, my brain, my subconscious, were all just saying, you don't have to. It felt less like a disability, and more like being miraculously delivered from an addiction. I'm suddenly physically allergic to the fictional crafting-related obligations I've been laying on myself for years and years.

It isn't as if I haven't been busy, or obsessed with random things. I've been playing a few video games. Oddly, I've been very much enjoying adventurous cooking again. And I've been circling the rabbit hole that is essential oils. But these are all very undemanding things. I could drop them tomorrow with very little consequence.

I mean, in a way it makes perfect sense. I am stepping into a season in my life with more responsibility than ever before: officially outnumbered by kids, first child in school, and some upcoming changes at work with a lot of unknowns. It makes sense that my brain would want to prepare by really letting go of all superfluous sense of obligation.

In January, when I took up spinning with a vengeance, I needed to learn about intention and focus in many areas, and spinning helped with that. Now, I have very little plans, very little concrete intention. I'm very much having to live in the present, one day at a time, because in the most important areas of my life, I don't have a choice but to do that right now.

Part of it is my own fault, for letting spinning and knitting become such A Big Thing. I've been struggling for quite some time with the question of how crafting fits in with the rest of my calling, with the fact that my spinning and knitting community online has almost no overlap with my real life as a priest, wife, and mom in the Arctic. This struggle had become so pressing that it seemed to permeate, almost poison, all of my crafting. One of them had to really lose for a bit, and I'm pretty relieved my subconscious (/the Holy Spirit?) picked the right one. My larger crafting ambitions really had to die.

It's been long enough now that I've started at least thinking about knitting again. I can't quite think about spinning – my new PLY magazine arrived today, and I had to put it away still in its wrapper. I might not be able to pick up that Orange Thing again (I feel like I owe it to M for Christmas, but even typing that makes me blegh, so maybe not)… but I could start something small. Something in bulky yarn. Something for the baby. Something I don't really have to finish. Or not.

At the same time, a week ago I also passed off outlines of my family's feet to an elder friend, and she's going to make kamik patterns for me. Because even though that project is enormous, and time sensitive once I get going, it has everything to do with my real life here.

It's very very strange. This is not the 1001st blog post I thought I'd be writing, and it's taken me these weeks to figure out how to write it. But here we are. Hm.

Big Choices

I polished off two big projects over the last few weeks, and at present have nothing major on the needles, or on the wheel.* At this point in my life, I am done with having a lot of things on the go at once. I don't mind quick things on the side, or a plain sock for the movies or reading, but when it comes to BIG projects – sweaters, long spins, big shawls, major sewing endeavors, intricate things – I'd be more comfortable if I only had one on the go at any given time. Between knitting, spinning, and hand sewing, I'd like to really limit myself, so I feel like I'm actually making progress.

But… what to start? As the finish line approached and passed on these two big knits, I've hemmed and hawed on what's next, and I can't decide. Will you let me process out loud, so to speak, with you?

  1. Cabled Coat for Jared

Like most knitters, my husband likes to stash more than knit, but at his current rate of production he is already at SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy). He's let me talk him into knitting him some of the sweaters he's had planned. Not a lot, just one every year or two, so the beautiful yarn he has acquired gets used.

The Appeal: Lots and lots of repetitive, simple cabling in a bulky yarn sounds right up my mental alley right now. I think I would really enjoy knitting it.

The Hesitation: My track record in knitting Jared things he will actually wear is… not great. Then again, he hardly wears any of his handknits, knit by anyone, so I don't think it's just me. But I have long thought that this sillouhette isn't really his style. He just really wants it, and has wanted it for years. Probably because he really likes the book (Knitting with Balls by Michael De Vecchio) and is even more of a completionist than I am. (Actually much more of one). I would be fulfilling a long-term request… but would it get worn?

2. Argonath

I pulled this yarn out to photograph it today, and oh my, I still love it. It's Dorset, it's my own natural dyes, and there's loads of it. I spun it something like 6 years ago, thinking to make the Argonath shawl. That's what the swatch is for. (I submitted the yarn, swatch, and pattern in a basket to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in the handspun "project plan basket" category and got a red ribbon for it; the yellow ribbon was from an individual skein I submitted as well!) I'm now thinking about adapting the stitch patterns from the shawl into a sweater of some kind.

The Appeal: This is the last pattern for me to knit in my Fellowship of the Ring knit-through. It would be glorious to bring this project home. And dear me, I love the yarn still!

The Hesitation: This is another very intensely patterned piece, like Galadriel's Mirror. I just don't know if I have this in me right now. If I adapt it into a sweater, it would be even more complicated. I could push through if I basically gave up spinning for a while, though.

3. Colorwork sweater for Moi

This is Brooklyn Tweed "Loft." I had originally bought the six skeins on the right to make Rohan, but I decided a while ago that I didn't really want the shawl. I love the colors I picked, and I love the stitch pattern (to say nothing of the theme), so I bought a few extra "Hayloft" skeins this summer to adapt it into a sweater (see a theme here?) putting the Rohan colorwork into a fair isle yoke.

After my success (Okay, dubious success) with the Blendlings sweater, having thoroughly fallen in love with The Opinionated Knitter, I would like to use the instructions from Elizabeth Zimmermann's very first self-published pattern: a bottom-up fair isle yoke sweater. (And yes, actually follow the directions this time.)

The Appeal: All those miles of stockinette sound really nice right now. The colors are my very favorites, everything I miss about fall.

The Hesitation: Can I really start a Two Towers Pattern before I've finished with Fellowship? I honestly don't know if I'm capable of such an act. Also, Mum wants to knit one with me (though she wants to knit it top down and we haven't hashed that out yet) and I don't know if she's ready.

So those are my knitting meditations. What about keeping the knitting on the small side, and diving into a larger spinning project instead?

4. Alpaca + Shetland Sweater Quantity

This is a carding project as much as a spinning project. I have 12 oz of Shetland that I handdyed with pokeberries a shocking number of years ago, and a good lb of (unwashed?) black alpaca that mom gifted me about as long ago. I'm thinking of blending them together to make a proper big sweater quantity in a lovely ruddy brown. (I might throw in a little of that orange on the right if things get too dull or black.)

The Appeal: I really like carding (well, OK, I say that based on one six-ounce card that I've done ever, but it was a really good experience). And this would be a solid, fun, fast sweater spin. I'd do it as a two-ply worsted weight, woolen spun. My dream is to get it prepped for Spinzilla and spin it all in a week. Wouldn't that be fun?

The Hesitation: I just… I don't know if I can do it. I'm straight up intimidated. What if washing the alpaca goes horribly wrong? What if the blended color is gross? It seems very overwhelming right now. I know I just need to sample a bit, but I haven't wrapped my head around it.

5. Orange & Brown Sweater Quantity

This is the other big, fast sweater spin I have planned for this year, another potential candidate for participation in Spinzilla. There's a lb of the brown (not all pictured) and 8 oz of the orange, so my idea is to spin 1 bobbin of the orange for every 2 bobbins of brown and make a nice worsted-weight 3 ply.

The Appeal: No prep, aside from fluffing the batts a bit. A relatively low-risk introduction to a larger woolen-spun project.

The Hesitation: Well OK, there isn't one. If Spinzilla rolls around, I'm up for it, and our family decides we're in a place that I can participate, and I don't have anything else major started, I'll do this.

6. Long Shawl Spin

Now it's time for me to own up to that * after the first sentence. I could, of course, go back to this big spin I've had on the wheel since May. I started this a couple weeks before vacation, knowing it was ill-advised, but I was still so into spinning, and had literally nothing else to spin. I sampled the living daylights out of it, came up with a beautiful plan, and had this excellent start. But I haven't wanted to touch it since I got home. I've been so tired, and this just seems so long.

The Appeal: I do like finishing what I start. I have never hibernated a spinning project, or taken singles off a bobbin just to set them aside. (I'd have to do this for #5 above; I'd want all four bobbins handy.) It is gorgeous.

The Hesitation: Trying to spin this right now feels like trying to knit Galadriel's Mirror did back in March. It just doesn't work for my life right now. Besides, even starting it was breaking one of the guidelines I set for myself back when I made my Spinning Goals for 2017: No Fingering (at least in large amounts)! So, setting it aside might even be construed as following rather than breaking my personal rules. This spin has been hanging over my head so heavily that it's the reason I didn't spin for a month after Tour de Fleece. If I'm really honest with myself, it might be a choice between setting this aside and not spinning at all for a while. Unless I'm ready to exert a supreme act of will, which effort I should really save for parenting my toddler.

***

So… I'm a little stuck. I have a wee spinning snack I'm almost finished with, and a couple little knitting projects I'm pecking away at. But I know I'll want to sink my teeth into something bigger soon. Do you have any advice? Can you hear what I really want, even though I can't seem to hear it myself?

 

Statement Hat

This year, I made a hat. Not just any hat, but a hand-sewn hat made from sealskin and coyote skin. It was made with a ton of help at every step from the Monday night Anglican women’s group, which I attended faithfully this year. One friend basically adopted me, gave me patterns, let me use her tools, gave me supplies when I’d picked the wrong ones. I made slow progress, since my spinning obsession meant I only worked on it Monday nights, but I did make progress. All the ladies followed my progress with encouragement, and not a little amusement. By the time we were out skidooing regularly in April, it was nearly done. It just needed a liner. 

I wore it once. And then it disappeared. 

We’re not sure it happened. The day I lost it, I’m pretty sure it made it inside the house, but I can’t be certain. We weren’t always the best about locking the door (we’re better now) and things like this do go missing. I put out a plea on Facebook, asked everyone who was at places I had been, checked around, but it’s just gone. 

I could not accept this. This was not just a hat. This was my year. This was the time I spent with people who have become very important to me. This is cultural learning that came through actual relationships.

I knew that even though the hat was gone, the relationships and learning were all still there, but still, I couldn’t just accept this. I had two weeks before vacation. I had enough supplies. I decided to make another one. 

I have documented it here in a rudimentary way for your interest. This is not a tutorial because it is not my cultural knowledge to share. But I thought you might like a hint of the process, primarily in pictures. 

Step 1: cut pieces. (Tracing them incorrectly and then retracing them with help in a different color is an optional sub-step.)

 

Step 2: sew up the slices of hat top. 

 

Step. 3: sew halves together

 

Step 4: attach outer ear flaps

 

Step 5: attach “outer” front flap

 

Step 6: attach earlap lining

 

Step 7: attach snaps for front flap  (allowing a four year old to attempt to hammer the snaps in while you hold the thingie on your hand with your fingers that you value very much… is again an optional addition of flavour)

Step 8: attach front flap lining (doing this at 2 am is not recommended)

Step 9: make lining (same as step 1-3 but on some kind of fleece lining – at lest I still had the liner from the first hat and didn’t have to make it again)

Step 10: attach lining, praying that your guess on how to turn it inside out and attach it was right, because it’s 2:30 in the morning and you’re leaving town for 7 weeks the next day

Right up until yesterday; I didn’t know if I was going to finish this hat before I left. I had accepted that I might not. Staying up so late last night to finish was certainly not the best advised step I’ve ever taken. 

But I’m so glad I did. This year has been hard in a lot of ways, and I’ve been ready for a break for longer than I care to admit. The last few months have included some real struggle. Making this second hat was an act of defiance against all that. It’s me shouting at the universe, at myself: this year has been hard, but it’s also been amazing. It’s been beautiful, and it’s won things for me personally that could not have come any other way. I’m sure God has done things in my ministry over past year that I don’t even get to know about, but which are exactly why I do what I do. It’s me saying, there are parts of this year that have been precious and irreplaceable, and I’m putting them first. It’s me saying, I need a rest, but I AM COMING BACK. 

It was something I needed to say. And I guess I needed to say it with a hat. 

Delicious Indecision

I am in between spins at the moment- I just finished something you’ll hear about soon, but right now  my bobbins are clear. It was an opportune moment to pull out a big braid I’ve had for a while and do some sampling. 


This is 8 oz. (actually 7.3) of 50/50 Merino/Yak, from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, in the colorway Supercolorfragilistic. 

I bought it from the late great Natural Stitches in the East Liberty neighbourhood of downtown Pittsburgh. It was the last fiber stash acquisition before my spinning hiatus, which ended this past January. As such, it’s always been on the top of the pile, but I’ve been too intimidated to spin it. I always felt it deserved to be something fine, and I knew I didn’t have that spin in me. 

I’m still not quite there, but I’m getting closer. Close enough that I spent part of the weekend sampling. 

I was encouraged by another member of the Wool n’ Spinning ravelry group, mjm, who had recently completed a light fingering weight 2-ply from her yak/merino. That’s what I wanted too. Above you see my three preps for sampling: from right to left, stripped 6x, laid on a handcard and rolled into a rolag (not actually carded; this is what mjm did), and staple lengths for over the fold. 

My experience with this fiber was rather different from what I’ve heard from others because of how compacted the fiber was from sitting in my stash for over two and a half years. I’ve heard others say they found it too slippery for standard short forward, but this spin into a fine single with short forward as if that was what it was made for. The compacting helped with that. 

By contrast, spinning woollen style off a rolag was pretty difficult. It wanted to be thicker than I was willing to go, the uneven density made it temperamental, and there was no way to deal with all the neps and things. The final yarn is almost too light. Yak already has a lot of fuzz; spinning this way almost made it too light. One wants a shawl to have SOME drape. 

A happy middle ground was spinning over the fold. It was challenging enough to demand my attention, but I got a consistent enough yarn to make me happy. Still, I don’t know if it can compete with how effortless it was to spin short forward off the stripped fiber. 

As you see, all three tiny skeins barely tipped our postal scale. But through slightly illicit means, I got a much more accurate measurement. 


I was able to determine that either over the fold or stripped and spun worsted would give me the wpi and yardage I want. The decision will come down to what sort of spinning experience I want, the behaviour of each skein in a swatch, and how I want to work the color. 

That’s the other big question about this spin: what should I do with this wild rumpus of colors?

I’m new to color management in spinning, especially with these painted tops. I find when I’m new at something, the choices can be overwhelming. I don’t know what I want well enough to rule anything out. 

I’ll tell you now that  I’m spinning for Emyn Muil by Susan Pandorf. Hence the 2 ply fingering. 
The choices are many. Gradients are always interesting, but what kind? End-to-end as above, or out-and-back for a mirrored effect? Lined up as much as possible, or intentionally misaligned a little for some extra blending in the transitions? In rainbowish order as dyed, or differently- I’m toying with the idea of grading by value instead of shade (look across the middle of the picture below and squint). 

Honestly, I’m not sure I like the reality of gradients as much as the idea of them, either in the making or the wearing. Being inspired by the grey and brown rocks of Emyn Muil, I’m quite tempted to just pull it apart and scramble it randomly to mix as much as possible. Would that make a yarn so busy that the patterning would be pointless? Or would that be mitigated by all the brown that brings the values fairly close together?

Puzzle, puzzle, puzzle! It’s funny, because in all other areas of my life, I like to make decisions as quickly as possible. Unless I’m ignoring it entirely. If I have to face a question, I want it solved. But with these spinning conundrums, I just love sitting with the questions. I like collecting them and tasting each possibility, and I very much like hearing what everyone else thinks. (Hint hint! Comment with your opinions!) Maybe that’s because making a yarn in my mind is much easier than making it in long hours with my hands! I get to sort of date around with lots of different yarns before settling down to a committed spin, which can easily lose its romance. But I feel no guilt for savouring this initial excitement, enjoying all the unknowns. I’ll try to remember this feeling next time I find myself stuck in some transitional phase of life. 

Realistically, I don’t have to decide anytime soon; we will be traveling for seven weeks starting on May 15. I am hesitant to start a big spin right before we leave, and I have some other projects I want to finish in the meantime. As much as it pains me, it looks like I won’t be spinning for the next few weeks. But I will enjoy my sewing and knitting, and spin every variation of yak and merino in my head!

Totoro and Tinies

This has been the year of Totoro in our house. 


I knew I liked Miyazaki and that Ny Neighbor Totoro was kid friendly, having watched it in the dim past. But nothing prepared me for the experience of watching it with two little girls of my own. We received a copy as a Christmas gift, and I cried the first five times we watched it. 

It’s hard to put all my thoughts about this film in a paragraph. There are so many moments that capture, with insightful care, exactly what a moment of real life is like, if you give it your full attention. It shows you the magic of the ordinary, until you fall in love with it, then it shows you ordinary magic. 

This is my girls’ favourite movie. It’s actually the main reason we gave up TV for lent, because we were watching it every day. 


Ever since I bought my mystery punis years ago, I had imagined them as little fingerless mitts, somehow working a contrast color into dots on the back. Since we have been so besotted with Totoro, the dots became Totoro spots. 


They are super soft. I didn’t know anything could feel so buttery on my dry hands. And hopefully, thanks to the tight three-ply, they’ll be durable too. 


I showed them to N, who took them, tried them on, and announced, “you can make some for me in the opposite colors.”


I had less leftovers than I thought, so they ended up more as palm warmers than anything. But she won’t even take them off long enough to let me put the dots on right, so I guess she’s happy!

These little associations and integrations of the stories we love with everyday life always make me happy, but especially this story, which is such a celebration of everyday life and childhood. 

What are the stories your whole family has enjoyed lately?

Stashdown 2017

I have a problem with my stash. I don’t like having one. I don’t judge anyone who has one, I just dislike having one myself. 

It’s so much fun to buy things, and the world of making is full of opportunities to buy things. It’s so easy to confuse the joy of making with the thrill of acquisition, for inspiration to become lust. My stash, as much as I do like the things in it, is a reminder of that confusion. I have no problem buying things; but now, I just want my buying to be directly and intentionally related to my making. Right now, my making is instead shaped around the aftermath of a long-forgotten spending spree. That can be fun too, and limits are really just opportunities for creativity. But I’m getting to the point where I want to do more than that. 

I’ve gotten pretty good about buying yarn. Somehow years of working in yarn shops convinced me that there is nothing new under the sun, that there will always be good yarn ready to buy when I’m ready to knit it, and there’s not much reason to buy yarn unless I’m about to use it. For the last 4 years at least, I have bought yarn only when I’m going to use it in the next 6 months. I still have a good bit of languishing yarn, though, even after all that time.

Fiber, though… fiber is a big issue. Every day on Instagram I see dozens of indie creations, and once they’re gone, they might not come back. There are more fiber clubs than I can count. To say nothing of all the possibilities in prepping one’s own fiber. It’s no wonder that many spinners have a stash that makes mine look like a sneeze.

I have about eight pounds of prepared fiber, and half a dirty cormo x fleece. It doesn’t sound so scary when I put it that way. But all of it is between three and eight years old. And that fiber that weighs about as much as my newborn babies takes up two large boxes in my mom’s basement. Even at my currrent rate of spinning, it would take a good two or three years to spin all that up. And it would be very easy to buy that much again every year.

I know I can’t make myself buy nothing. That’s a wagon I know I can’t stay on. So instead, I made myself a two-for-one deal. It worked with my WIP-down, and even though it took a year and a half to get down to one project, by the end of that time, my habits were different.

So here’s my program of fiber stash control: I’m allowed to buy fiber when I have spun twice the amount I want to buy. That sounds confusing. What I mean is, if I want to buy some 4-oz braid of fiber, I have to spin 8 oz before I can order it. I’ll show you the chart I made in my journal to keep track.


It’s pretty basic. The column on the left is purchases; on the right is what I’ve spun. The dashes along the middle line are my unit of measure. In the right column, one ounce is worth one dash. In the left, one ounce is worth two dashes. So when I spin, it goes into the right column, making room for more on the left. (True confessions: already sometimes it’s the right column trying to catch up with the left.)

The age of what I spin doesn’t matter; even if I spin what I’ve just bought, it still goes into the right column to earn more. In fact, I prefer that; I’d like to get in the habit of spinning what I buy fairly quickly. And since this system means I have to consider every purchase I make very carefully, I tend to want to spin those purchases right away; I’ve been looking forward to them, and they take so long to get here!

I’ve come up with a similar program for yarn. Like I said, I’m pretty good about buying commercial yarn with immediate intention, but I’m still buying, and there’s plenty of stash not getting used. Plus I am now generating all this handspun I want to use as well. Here’s the chart for that.


There’s one rule for this chart. For every project I start that has any new yarn in it, meaning yarn I’ve purchased in the last year, I have to finish two projects out of older yarn.

“Older yarn” can be anything: yarn I’ve had for a while, gifts (even recent), any handspun (for now, even newly spun yarn from newly bought fiber). Basically any yarn that was acquired without a particular intention, that will not get used unless I make a use for it.

There are no rules for how big a project has to be; I can totally cheat and crank out a couple of baby hats from old yarn to start a sweater with new yarn. The catch is, to go in the right column, the project has to be ALL old yarn. If I have to buy more yarn in order to use the old yarn how I want to (like with many of my ideas for using my handspun) it has to wait for a spot in the left column.

A hitch, you may notice, is that there’s no limit to how many projects I can start with old yarn, nor do have to ever finish any projects with new yarn. If I’m not careful, I could end up with my WIPs out of control again. I’m relying on my own sense of being easily overwhelmed to keep this under control, and the hope that my WIP-down formed habits that will stick. I’m pretty reliably down to two projects now, an easy travel one and a complex stationary one, with the occasional quickie on the side, though I do have another big one hibernating right now. I’m committed to finishing that this summer. 

A look at my ravelry account tells me that, if I stick to this plan, I’ll have to spin about 15 lbs to get down to less than 1. Yarn is harder to estimate, but assuming one project per type of yarn, and that I’ll be adding to nominal “old yarn” with more spinning… I’m looking at a good 75 projects before I’m done with old yarn.

Wow. For both yarn and fiber, that’s at least a four-year program! I don’t know if that’s realistic. It’s also a strong argument against stashing, because even if I love something now, am I still going to be interested in it four years later?! And much of my stash is already much older than that. 

I’d like to stick with it for a year and see if I seem to be making any progress. In an effort to find a wagon I can stay on, I may have picked one that’s never going to reach its destination.

My goal is to not be creatively limited by my stash. But really, it’s not my stash that’s limiting me; it’s how legalistic I feel about my stash. It does not really matter, in the light of eternity, how much yarn or fiber I own. If it were taking over my house or making me broke that would be one thing, but that’s not the case. What I’m trying to say is, I could also free myself creatively from my stash by… freeing myself mentally from my stash. Letting it go. Not worrying about it.

 In describing the program above, I can sense the old perfectionism rearing its head again. This is only going to work if I remember that this is a guideline to help me do what I want to do, not a law I have to feel guilty about breaking.

My fantasy is to own only the yarn and fiber I’ll need for the next year, and that it will all fit in this chest!


I do want to make this effort and see how it goes. Of course, the real question is, how am I going to control myself on vacation, when my list of fiber-related visits keeps growing??

How about you? What sort of animal is your stash? How much does it bother you, or do you not worry about it?