Yarn, Glorious Yarn

These days, I’m spending most of my time trying to finish two scarves that have been on the needles since summertime.  One is a Mini Mania Scarf, designed by one of my most incredible friends, Sarah.  She took such a basic, simple thing – the linen stitch – and created so many different ways to work with it to design a simple but gorgeous product.  My favourite discovery that she put into her pattern?  “Swing knitting” – when you hit the end of your knit row, rather than turning it around and purling it back the other way, you just “swing” the WIP around and begin a knit row all over again.  This works out perfectly for me, since I’m going back and forth between two different skeins of yarn for it and had already planned to cut at the end of each row to have as much fringe as possible.  My plan is just to keep going until I run out of yarn.  It’s been on the needles so long because, quite simply put, each row seems to take me forever – I haven’t timed it, but it’s got to be about 15-minutes per row…not surprising, since I cast on 500 stitches!  So this little project lives in my car and mostly comes into movies and staff meetings with me.  It’s one of those projects that feels like it could go on for the rest of my life, it’s taking so long, and that always makes me nuts when I look at it and think, “You’re just a SCARF, how are you taking longer than some of the sweaters I’ve made in my lifetime???”  Then I look at it again and remind myself how condensed linen stitch gets.  If I had to guess, I would think that there are at least 15 rows per inch on this, which means that it’s slow going.  But I’m so excited for how lovely and sunshiney bright it will be when it’s done that I don’t mind.

The other project is one of my own design, one that I set down for awhile and just came back to.  It’s a scrappy diagonal scarf, one that’s based on ideas from a lot of different sources and stitches.  My biggest motivation was wanting to find something for all of the mini-skeins I seem to have collected in the last few years, those bits and pieces of yarn that aren’t enough to really make anything with but that are too precious to throw out or waste on scrap yarn.  I had a bit of fingering there, a little bit of sportweight there, and so I’ve been going back and forth, every other row, mixing the colours together and getting what I think will be a fabulous rainbow fractal.  It’s so exciting to me every time I get to go back to my project page in Ravelry and add in yet another new yarn, which then can officially be moved to my “Used” page when it’s a part of the scarf.  I’m hoping to be able to finish it this week – if it turns out as well as I think, I’ll write up the pattern for it as well.  One of the greatest things about the knitting community is our shared knowledge base.

The thing that I’m loving the most about this second project is that it’s letting me try a whole slew of different bases.  Some of them are ones that I’m already familiar with – a scrap from a pair of socks I made, a little leftover from Megan’s hexipuff craze.  It’s really nice to pull those out again, revisit them, and see how I had initially rated them on Ravelry.  But the real excitement are those skeins that are bases I’m not familiar with.  Sarah has taken part in the Phat Fiber box multiple times and every now and then, she’ll set aside a sample that she thinks I’ll like from her box, only to have it appear for one of my birthdays or a holiday.  I bought one once and while I liked the experience of getting a box of little samples and pawing through them, it very quickly brought me to the question of, “What do I do with all of these little odds and ends now?”  I feel like I now have an answer to that question – you make something that is perfect for using up scraps!  Other knitters would probably do a teeny little swatch, then make something out of that as they continued to create more and more.  It’s such a simple concept – send a knitter about 15 or so yards of a yarn, and if they like working with it, they’ll buy more.  I’ve come across a few samples that I’m now realizing I can’t possibly live without, and so I have resorted to the ultimate form of desperation as a knitter – stalk stashing on Ravelry.  A lot of the contributors to the Phat Fiber boxes are indie dyers, and I’m discovering that some of them have empty storefronts online or closed up shop, and that sometimes there’s very little “stash shopping” I can actually do.  But you can bet that when I find people who have those bases I just can’t live without, I’m going to go to the end of the earth to try to get a full skein!  It makes me realize how important it is to actually *use* what’s in your stash, rather than just getting more and more and more.  These days, I’m every more likely to shop through my stash and try to use what I have, rather than taking a trip to the yarn store to see if they have what I need.  My stash is big enough, that typically *I* have what I need, if I can just let go of the idea of getting that one perfect shade of purple that I’m visualizing…

Oh yarn…sweet, wonderful yarn.  I always have this sense of curiosity about how addictive it is.  Is it the colours?  The fibers?  The way it’s spun, or the fancy little label on it?  Maybe the colourway name…who knows?  All I know is that when my brain goes on autopilot and drifts, it usually drifts to thoughts of yarn.  What I’m knitting with it…what I’d like to be knitting with it…pattern designs…colours…shapes…textures…and while there might be some yarn bases that I don’t like or projects that made me want to weep while I was creating them, I can all but guarantee that if the apocalypse came and the yarns I love the most in the world were no longer available to me, I’d happily take a skein of whatever was handy.  That’s how important knitting is to me

Which leads me to next question…what on earth did I do with my hands before I was a knitter?  Did I really just sit and watch TV with no project going?  Crazy!

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