Monday, March 31, 2014

Yarn Overload: Time for Stash Reduction or at Least Stabilization

Ever since Stitches, I've been on a yarn buying binge. I recently completed Blue Morpho which makes use of a Zauberball. This shawl gave me a lot of ideas for using Zauberballs, so I needed to pick up a few. Then I found a sweater pattern by Lori Versace that looked interesting and the yarn looked interesting. I can never decide on a color, especially when buying online, so I picked up several sweaters worth. I am also working on a double brioche scarf. Same problem, I can't decide on colors, so I picked up several skeins of Knit Picks Swish Worsted. Luckily this yarn isn't so expensive. Anyway, you get the idea.

So its time to start reeling myself in. My friend Tyler is starting a social experiment in reducing stash. His rules can be found here. I'm going to follow his lead modified for my own use.

My goal is to not purchase any new yarn for a year, starting from April Fools Day; good choice of start date! While I say not purchasing any yarn is the goal, it is not realistic. So instead, I'm going to only allow purchases under certain conditions.

  • I can continue with up to two yarn clubs. I am currently a member of Miss Babs Knitting Tour and Cookie A's Sock club. Both include a yarn delivery. I am allowed to maintain these clubs or switch out one club for another, but only two clubs are allowed.
  • I am already tracking my yarn usage in an attempt to reduce leftovers. I will continue tracking all of my yarn usage in this manner. Yarn used to get rid of leftovers counts 1:1. Yarn used to complete a project counts 2:1. What does this mean? A project is started from a new skein or skeins and counts as 2:1; for every 2 skeins used, I can buy 1 new skein, in yards. A project using the leftover yarn counts 1:1; for every leftover yard used, I can buy 1 yard. My goal here is to encourage removing complete items from my stash. I want to use them up! (Note: if I have a lot of skeins or a lot of yardage, say I have 10 skeins of sock yarn in a certain color. Making a pair of socks using 1 skein does not move the remaining 9 skeins into the 1:1 category. I must get it down to less than 1 skein, and then the remaining can be moved into 1:1 category.)
  • Any yarn sold, gifted or traded allows me to buy new yarn in the ratio of 2:1; 2 yards sold equals 1 yard available for purchase.
  • I am allowed to knit with yarn that is up for sale. I must replace it 1:1 by putting another yarn up for sale.
  • While I'm hoping to have enough yarn to do any design work that interests me, I'm allowed to buy yarn for the designs, but I must complete the design in 3 months or I have to get rid of yarn following the above rules.
  • I can purchase yarn for new projects, if the yarn is not in my stash. I must put 1:1 yarn up for sale in this case. If I do not start the project within 1 month, I must put another 1:1 up for sale.
  • Stitches 2015 and other fiber fests. I will allow purchases here, but they will be severely restricted. I will need to set a budget and stick to it. Like usual, I need to focus on yarns I love that aren't locally available as well as purchases from the new kids.
  • The weavers conference in Oakland is exempt. I have been planning to go to the conference for several weeks. It will be my first time at this market.
  • Vacation yarn. I'm allowed a couple of skeins for vacation purchases. It really depends on the length of the trip. I actually did really good in Australia and only purchases 4 skeins. I wish I could say it was due to my will power. It was more an availability thing. At this point, I'm going to say 1 skein a week and / or 1 skein from shops I have never visited before.
  • Yarn Swap Yarn. Swapped yarn is "sold" yarn if i swap more than I pick up. To calculate the true nature of swapped yarn I have: Yarn I leave at the swap - yarn I take home = either the equivalent of purchased yarn or sold yarn. The rules for this difference are the same as any sale or purchase, with one difference, all swapped yarn must be put up for sale immediately or I must start knitting something with it immediately.
  • LYS yarn purchases are allowed under the following circumstances. When a new shipment of sock yarn arrives, I can buy 2 skeins. I want to continue supporting my LYS. I may modify this rule some more because I don't want to cut back on my support too severely.
  • Yarn purchased before the start date will not count against me.
  • Test knitting. I don't do a lot of test knitting, but when I do, I want to make sure that I use a yarn that highlights the pattern being test knitted. I want the designer to have a finished project listed under their pattern that helps sell their design. For this reason I will allow myself to buy yarn for a test knit. I still must try to use my stash first.
  • Stripes & colorwork. This is a tough one. I need to use up the yarn I have, but i will allow myself to buy a second color to get the correct color combination. Buying a color to match will require me to put something up for sale, 1:1. If I don't start right away, then I must put 2:1 total up for sale.
  • Buying new yarn outside of what I'm granted in above sections requires me to put up yarn for sale in the ratio of 2:1. So 1 yard bought, means 2 yards must be put up for sale. I won't require a match of gauge for this exchange.
  • Individual gift skeins will not count against me. If someone gives me a sweaters worth, then I have to give up yarn, 1:1. This will make sure that I want this sweaters worth of yarn more than something in my stash.
  • Yarn that missed being included in my Ravelry stash doesn't count against me when I add it to my stash. I have found some leftovers that didn't get included, and I may run across other yarn that hasn't been included.
  • I have a bunch of cheap cotton and fun fur that won't make it into my stash. This yarn will not count when I sell it. If i decide to use it in a project, I must add it to my stash. It then is available to me as part of stash yarn that I have used. I must list the project in my projects on Ravelry.
  • Crocheting, weaving, knitting are all valid ways to use up yarn.
  • Buying fiber for weaving won't count. I can imagine needing a specific yarn or fiber to learn a new technique and to get my weaving skills to a satisfactory level. I still need to focus on using my stash first and will need to revisit this item if I start stashing weaving yarns.
  • Can I put yarn for sale in advance? Yes. If I have some yarn I want to put up for sale, I don't need to or want to wait for a purchase to list the yarn. Yarn put up for sale gives me future purchases based on the above criteria. This doesn't mean that I run out immediately and buy yarn, but there really isn't a reason to wait to list the yarn. If its up for sale then it can be sold and moved out of my stash.
  • Yarn that's already up for sale (prior to April 1) does not count for or against me. In other words, I cannot count it for future purchases.
  • I can pull yarn out of my sale bins for weaving without aditional penalty, if I weave it right away. If its a yarn I've counted in advance, I'll remove it from my available to purchase totals.
  • Can I change the rules? Yes. Its hard to say what will work and what won't. I may be overly generous in my yarn purchase criteria and its hard to say what I've missed.
  • You can really tell I'm an engineer!

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry .

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Yarn & Knitted Art in Melbourne

    I saw several interesting pieces while in Melbourne. Melbourne seemed to embrace the concept of street art and had wonderful museums. These are a few pieces that made use of yarn and or knitting. Make sure you get to the end for the pièce de résistance.

    The first is an example of yarn bombing. In the Fitzroy section of Melbourne they have these great bicycle racks that have a bicycle shape. Some one took the time to yarn bomb them. This was an older yarn bomb, but it really accentuated the shape of the bike racks in a fun way.

    In the Melbourne Now! exhibit there was this fun interactive installation using yarn and other materials. It was like walking through yarn barf, but in a good way.

    The piece was by the Slow Art Collective.

    The third piece was on exhibit in the Yarra Gallery at Federation square. It was part of the Wonderment Walk exhibit.
    This is a sculptural work by the artist Elizabeth Workman emulating the crystal structure of rutilated quartz. Visit her site for other inspirational knitting.

    I'll definitely need to keep my eye out for more interesting yarn craft art.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry; All art copyright of the artist.

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits..

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Vacation Knitting, Complete

    Brickless was the final pattern of the Miss Babs knitting tour for 2012. As soon as I saw it, I thought it would make good vacation knitting. I wound the yarn and there it sat, until January when I needed travel knitting for a trip to Australia.

    I started the pattern on January 4, as its my practice to start my travel knitting before the trip. I want to work through the basics to make sure there aren't any gotchas. This was particularly important since I was going to replace the ribbing with a brioche rib.

    As mentioned in an earlier post, I didn't get much knitting done on vacation. So, I picked it up to finish it before moving on to other knitting. I finished it with about 18" of yarn remaining, but only got six rows of the final netting section.

    A few notes should you attempt this project with brioche ribbing:

  • My brioche rib:
    Row 1a (RS): KFB, (SlYO, BRK) * , (SlYO, K1)after the first section repeat. This row ends with a BRK on the initial row and ends with a SlYO, K1 on subsequent repeats. It doesn't really matter -- just continue in pattern. It only matters that the A rows start with a KFB.
    Row 1b (WS): P1, (BRK, SlYO) * , K1
    Row 2a (RS): KFB, (BRK, SLYO) * , K1
    Row 2b (WS): P1, (BRK, SLYO) * , K2
    BO row (WS): Finish off this row in straight rib to transition to the next section, ending with a KFB. (Don't forget this last KFB, as it sets you up correctly to start the lace netting section.
  • Use this brioche pattern with a grain of salt. On subsequent rounds, you may find that the pattern doesn't work exactly (You may end differently on a row that requires a different start on following rows). Just continue working in pattern and it will work out.
  • The bind off row is the setup row for the netting section. You will need to make sure you have an even number of stitches at the end of this row so that your netting will work out.
  • I knit the equivalent of 12 rows of ribbing in brioche rib. This means that I repeated my 4 rows 6 times. You need to knit both the a & b rows to get one row of brioche rib.
  • Since I ran out of yarn, I would reduce the number of brioche rows. Remember to complete both the A & B row.
  • This shawl is huge! I should have stopped after the fifth repeat + 1 netting section instead of trying to make it through to the sixth repeat + 1 netting section. If you do only five repeats, you won't need reduce the number of brioche rib rows.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits..

  • Monday, March 10, 2014

    Knitting Shops in Melbourne, Australia

    While I was in Australia, I was lucky enough to visit quite a few yarn/craft stores. This is a quick overview of the shops I visited.

    Morris & Sons, Collins Street, Melbourne
    This was the first shop i stopped at upon arrival to Melbourne. It was two doors down from my hotel. The shop carried its own brand yarn (Morris & Sons) as well as many brands that can be purchased in the US: Debbie Bliss, Schoppel-Wolle, Noro, Pony, and Knitpicks to name a few. This was the only shop that carried yarns containing alternate fibers. I found Yak, Camel and Angora. They also carried a lovely, but expensive french hand-dyed angora yarn. The shop had one of the best collections of zauberballs that I've seen in a single shop. In addition to yarn, the shop carried a nice selection of embroidery supplies.
    Yarn & Co, Fitzroy, Melbourne
    Yarn & Co was a pleasant little shop in the Fitzroy section of Melbourne. Fitzroy is a hip, funky neighborhood that is worth a visit. It also has 2 yarn shops! This shop carried Cascade, Patons, Koigu, Jo Sharp, Checkheaton, and Manos. The shops demographics leans towards Bulky Yarn. Great for them; not so great for me. I like knitting fingering and lace weight yarns. I did pick up a couple of gift skeins for my sister-in-law.
    Precious Purls, Fitzroy, Melbourne
    Don't bother trying to find this one. It was a popup shop that is no longer there. Too bad, I was looking forward to this one. The web site needs updating!
    Beautiful Silks, Fitzroy, Melbourne
    This was one of my favorite shops. It was a bit quirky, but had the most unique selection of yarns and fibers. The shop had a wonderful collection of dyeable silk fibers in different, plys, weights and textures. It was tempting, but I don't dye my own yarn at this point. The shop also carried a large selection of sari silk yarns, some local hand-dyed wools, fiber for spinning and dyeing supplies. I picked up my only skein of fingering weight hand-dyed yarn here as well as a couple of gift skeins.
    Wool Baa, Melbourne
    Wool Baa is another nice little shop in the Albert Park section of Melbourne. The shop carried Katia, Patons, Lisa Harding, Noro, Checkheaton (Australian brand), Aslan Trends, Ella Rae, Debbie Bliss, Filatura Di Crosa, Jo Sharp, & Sublime. The shop also had a wonderful hand-dyed thick-thin super bulky yarn. Even though I don't normally knit yarn like this, I regret not buying a skein.
    Lincraft, Collins Street, Melbourne
    Lincraft is like Joann's on steroids. They have a more extensive yarn collection than Michaels or Joann's, including Patons, Panda, Shepherd, Checkheaton, Creeative Basics as well as their own brand. They have a good amount of novelty yarn along with some basic yarns. Add to this a full selection of craft supplies for various crafts and fabrics. You get the idea.
    Clegs, Elizabeth St., Melbourne
    Clegs isn't really a yarn store, its a fabric store with wonderful fabrics, but also a decent yarn stock. They carry Patons, Katia, Filatura Di Crosa, Misti Alpaca, Aslan Trends, Panda, Poems & Rowan.

    I enjoyed visiting all of the different yarn shops. For my style of knitting, (small weight, hand-dyed yarns), there wasn't a lot to offer. We are really lucky here in the bay area to have such a wonderful choice of hand-dyed yarns in our local shops.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits..

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    Stitches West Market 2014

    Is this all mine? No, although I can claim a good portion. This is the stitches haul from six of the Friday night regulars at Green Planet Yarn. It was a good market this year. This was the first year for The Plucky Knitter. There was almost a continuous line outside the booth. I had recently bought a couple of skeins from A Verb for Keeping Warm, nice yarn. So, I waited through the line to pick up some more Primo Fingering. I love sock yarns that contain cashmere. Primo is a 76 - 20 - 5, that's 75% Italian merino, 20% cashmere, and 5% nylon. They also had a 55% Merino / 45% Cashmere fingering blend. I didn't buy any but it was a nice yarn.

    Another first time participant was Canon Hand Dyes. At Knitting Lab last year a bunch of us purchased Vintage Christmas and made socks. We were hooked. It was the first stop for several of us this year.

    The Yarnover Truck was an unique first time visitor. The truck was setup in a booth space. They had a good selection of Baah! LaJolla, one of my favorite yarns.

    Miss Babs is always a big hit, another first stop for many Friday night regulars. I couldn't resist and picked up a couple of sock yarn babbettes. Other popular spots: Cephalopod Yarns, The Verdant Gryphon, A Verb for Keeping Warm, Abstract Fiber, Handwerks, Sweet Fibers, RedFish Dyeworks, Anzula, Spincycle Yarns, Lisa Souza, Dragonfly Fibers and Shalimar Yarn.

    Ok, ok, so what did I buy? You'll need a Ravelry account to look at this link. My stitches 2014 haul is here. I made it to Western Sky this year and picked up a couple of beautiful skeins. I picked up some self-striping yarn and the Zebra Sock Pattern from the Knitters Brewing Company and some "Lost Souls" skeins of Breathless from Shalimar Yarns. I also picked up some Canon Hand Dyes, Brooklyn Tweed, Lisa Souza, Miss Babs, Plucky Knitter, Sassy Sheep, Baah!, Indigo Dragonfly, Redfish Dyeworks, Sweet Fiber, Theresa Ruch and Verdant Gryphon. A sampling can be seen around the border of this article.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits..