Monday, January 12, 2009

The Stash

I read an amazing post this week by a woman named Liz, over on Crossroads Knits. Since I can't seem to link to it, if it isn't on top, scroll down to the post named Resolved.
It's equally applicable, whether you sew, knit, or create with fiber in any way, so all my sewing friends who've just tuned out, you can tune back in.

It got me to thinking. I've been experiencing a paradigm shift in my attitude lately.

It's a new year. That time when we all resolve to finish our ongoing projects, to shop our own stash (be it fabric, yarn or whatever). I feel a bit like Oprah; I read last week in a rag mag that Oprah said "I can't believe I'm sitting here talking about weight again" (yeah, that too....)

I can't believe I'm talking about finishing up the UFO's... (and Carolyn's talking about not buying more fabric....and hell is about to freeze over. LOL)

But somehow I'm feeling as if I've undergone a sea change in my approach to my projects.
I want to finish up what's in the hopper. I want to limit my production, and finish what's on the table before casting on / cutting out.

Which brings me to the topic of the stash.
Most everyone who sews or knits accumulates stash. It's that difference between what we want to accomplish and buy the materials for, and what we really have time to make. Amazingly, some people actually start out deliberately to build a stash! It's as if they've read about so much stash that they feel it's a necessary accoutrement.

At some point most people who've developed a stash vow to use it first, to use it up, to not add to it.
And at the new year, prompted by Stash contests and KAL's, people get into "stash busting" projects.

I confess, I'm baffled by Stash Busting.
Sewing up the stash I understand. Using what is in inventory instead of buying new, sure.
Knitting with yarn already purchased before hitting the *Buy* button on the internet or venturing out to the LYS; that I get.

But what is with "stash busting" projects. That I don't get at all.
I read about people making pet blankets using yarn double stranded in order to use more of it...of people sewing up projects that use a lot of fabric just to run up the numbers. People choosing projects based upon the amount of yardage a project will consume rather than by the desirability of the finished item.

What is with that?
I mean, if you bought the yarn in the first place, isn't it yarn you love? If you don't love it anymore, why bother knitting it up in "stash busting" projects. Isn't the time involved in knitting a project at least as important as the materials that go into it?

I understand the concept of a stash Sewing contest that prompts you to use fabric that is aging in your closet - fabric you may consider "the good stuff" that you've been reluctant to cut into. Maybe you need the prompt to go ahead and Use it.

But what I don't understand is the desire to use it just for the sake of Using it.
Do you get it?

Regarding the size of the stash:
Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's the end of the era of conspicuous consumption. I hope so.

Personally, I really really don't feel the need to add to either my fabric or my yarn stash. I also don't feel the need to use it just to use it.

I finally just got my yarn stash totally cataloged. Yup, I've got more than I need. And if I had it to do now, there are more than a few yarns I would not own.
But, I've got 30 (yeah, count 'em, 30) major sweater projects stashed that I'd really still like to make. Here's to hoping that I get them made before I no longer want to make them.
If you're on Ravelry you can see the awful awesomeness of my stash, catalogued. If you're not, you're spared that experience. But it's all there.
I'd like to do it for my fabric too, but it's not happening, because there just isnt' a reason yet.

What I'm working on right now - that Dickinson pullover from the last post - I'm on the top of the second raglan sleeve; The Marijke scarf using stashed Blue Sky alpaca silk yarn (I'm halfway done with that), and the black Drops cardi that I'm going to finish even though it won't fit me (there's that weight thing again).

What else I'm working on: The cashmere jacket that just doesn't want to get finished. And the class samples.
oh, and a few pair of pants that'll actually make the circumference of my butt.

I do indeed need to get moving too.

So, do you get this whole Stash busting thing?
How do you feel about your stash?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Plugging In again

Hello! and Happy New Year.

I've been off-line a bit longer than I intended.

I'll let you in on a secret. I'm a bit burned out on the sewing. I needed/need a break from it.
The Great Coat Sewalong really took a lot of energy, (I know, I signed on for it), and the wedding sewing and formalwear sewing did, and I just need a break.
There is so much on the "must do" list that it's feeling like a chore. Ya know?

So, Since I posted last I've gotten out the knitting. In part because I've had a lot of car-time.
For Thanksgiving we drove to S Carolina - 30+ hours in the car, and I only drove about 1/3 of it. The rest I spent working on my Dickinson pullover.I finished knitting the front in the car. Since then I've worked on the sleeves. Last night at knitting group I finished one of the sleeves, only to discover this AM that it's too long and too wide at the top, so I'm going to rip back down to before the beginning of the raglan shaping and
start the raglan shaping sooner and decrease at a sharper angle. It won't take long. Fortunately just after I took that picture I separated the sleeves (I had been knitting two at the same time on one needle) so I only have to reknit the top on one. I should have this sweater ready to wear with my teal plaid pants by Jan 30 when we go up to Chicago.

I also made a trip up to Rockford IL and then over to Davenport IA to see each kid, and spent a bit of time in The Yarn Shoppe in Davenport where I got started on hats for Mark and Megan. I finished both in time for Christmas giving. I added a ribbed cuff to the double knit hat for Mark.

Then I came home and started finishing mittens that had been languishing.
Karen's needed thumbs:

Megan liked the Sea Mineral mittens and her hands fit the small one so I knit the mate and added thumbs and those are finished

and I picked up this pair that I'd only knit one cuff on and finished knitting the mittens from the chart I'd made up a year ago. I'm naming these Celebration in honor of my friend Sharron, who's in Colorado now with her daughter.
Edit to say that My dear friend Sharron lost her long battle with cancer this past Saturday. She was a wonderful, fun lady who will be missed. These mittens are in honor of Sharron, in some of her favorite colors.

Then I knit the mate to the one that I'm calling Violet Prism and decided that I'm keeping this pair for myself.

In the vein of knitting for myself, I've started one project this year. January 4th I cast on Marijke using size 4 needles and the Blue Sky alpaca/silk that I had in stash in the ruby color.
I realized when dh and I went to Saugatauk MI for New Years that I don't have a single scarf that I've knit. I've given away all of them. Time to rectify that.
in the way of all lace knitting this will look infinitely better when blocked.
I could have chosen an easy pattern, but nope. This one has a 28 row repeat and is patterned on both sides. No return purl rows to relax on. But I'm loving it. Cherries!!

This week I also got an email from dvmCindy from PR. She's just starting the drops cardi that I've let languish, and she got me motivated to get that out of hibernation.

So right now I've got 3 projects I'm working on.
1. The Dickinson pullover which I can work on in company or while watching TV because the pattern is easily memorized.
2. The Drops Cardi where I'm on the stockinette part of sleeve 2 - totally mindless knitting
3. the Marijke scarf which is complex and requires every bit of my concentration.

Plans are to have the scarf and Dickinson finished before Jan 29 to take to Chicago when we attend Strictly Sail. It gets cold walking down to Navy Pier.

2009 is my year to knit and sew for myself.

I look forward to catching up with all of my blog friends in the next couple of weeks. I have some sewing to do, but not much to talk about.

Re The Great Coat Sewalong: I've got to do some arranging and editing of the blog - not much but it will take a bit of time, then I'm opening it for public viewing. Give me until Jan 15, ok?