Springtime Yarn

It’s sunny here today and even tho its still cold oputside that makes me think of springtime…and what yarns I have in my stash to knit with this Easter. So I thought I would flash some stash spring themed yarns today…

So first up I have a local hand dyer – Dye Candy – Lindsay AKA Hutch is a magician when it comes to colour combos and looking at this skein makes my heart melt. I love the greens, yellow and pinks that she has incorporated on this…so much so that I bought two different sock bases and a DK base in the same colourways lol!!

Dye Candy SW Merino Cashmere/Nylon Sock in colourway Prairie

IMG_0850Next up we have some yarn from one of my favourite yarn brands – Malabrigo! Two skeins of pink… one in Rios English Rose (left) and the other in Baby Silkpaca Lace in Fuchsia (right).

Malabrigo Yarns are a firm favourite of mine. You get really good quality for reasonable price per skein. I always recommend these yarns to new knitters as a good way to try natural fibres and move away from acrylic. I’m not a fan of acrylic myself but there is a place for it and I did start out using it as a new knitter so I can’t complain. But these days my view is everyone’s time is precious so why spend it with acrylic on the needles and not some fabulous Merino, Cashmere, Alpaca… or other natural fibre.

Now when you think of springtime the colour you will think of first is probably yellow… and probably because spring is represented by daffodils. The next yarn I’m going to flash is some fabulous lace weight from Eden Cottage Yarns. Victoria is passionate about hand dyeing and her colour palate comes from the landscapes around her. This skein is Pegasus Lace which is a beautiful baby alpaca and silk in a very bright yellow colourway called Dandelion.


Now living in Northern Ireland when you think of springtime you also think of the green fields in the meadow. Jenny from Townhouse Yarns has expertly hand dyed this next Skein on her Chatham Lace base of Merino and silk which has sadly been discontinued so I suppose this yarn is now vintage stash!IMG_0846

Another favourite of mine is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light. This yarn is soft and has a lovely stitch definition. This colourway is a limited colourway from the Loop called London Cosmopolitan, and a gorgeous shade of warm orange with subtle hints of pink.

Finally another Irish hand-dyer. This skein has been in my stash for a few years now and I still haven’t decided what it will become (suggestions please!) but it is so pretty to look at and whats not to love about Alpaca, Silk & Cashmere right? Coolree Yarns are based in Wexford and you definitely want to get your hands on a skein or two! This skein has been dyed in a lovely spring blue colourway called ‘Cornflower’.

So what yarns are you lusting over this spring? Please leave me a comment and let me know…


Stash Sunday


WARNING: This post may upset some readers.  It contains information about how you can count your stash yardage.  Although those of you who are completely clueless about this topic may be thinking what the hell is she talking about.  But be warned this information might make you obsessed with counting your yardage!

So I have a friend who is obsessed with counting her stash yardage (you know who you are!). When we met at knit group all those years ago she kept asking me “What’s your mileage?” – I had no idea what she was talking about.  I was totally blind to this concept and it would never have even dawned on me until she explained.

Anyway these days she has changed me into a “cold sheeping yardage counting nut” who is becoming a little obsessed (although never as obsessed as her) about checking stash yardage.

I have always been a knitter.  Mum taught me garter stitch when I was about 4 or 5.  Since then I’ve dipped in and out of knitting but I’ve only really become obsessed with this craft since when I was very ill back in 2008.  It’s now my daily obsession much to the dismay of my family.  They just don’t get my love for knitting (although I did get my first ever knitting present last Christmas – and I’m still in shock – my dear sister bought me a knitting book “French Girl Knits Accessories” – thanks sis!).

Anyway since 2008 I have become what I would term as ‘a collector of yarns’. But this means my stash has exploded into extreme levels and i really need to stash down.

In preparation for this I have been putting my stash on ravelry (please don’t look it will frighten you) and tagging yarn to projects in my queue so that I focus on what I have rather than buying. And I do have a lot of nice yarns…


Over the last five years my ravelry stash has exploded beyond epic proportions and I really need to stash down to a more manageable amount. In advance of a plan to do this I have been reviewing what I’ve got and it’s been a real eye opener. There is some good shit in there and here are some of the statistics…

Yarn Weight

39% (125) of my stash is fingering/sock weight yarn. To be honest I could have guessed this as I do buy a lot of ‘shawl weight’ yarn. But I was surprised it was so skewed to this yarn weight. DK was a close second at 23% (76) followed by Lace weight at 18% (59).

Colour Family

I love colour and over the years my buying habits have changed when it comes to yarn colour. I have always been a lover of reds and pinks but after looking at the stash stats it’s interesting that my most popular colour was blue at 19% (55) followed by pink at 16% (46) and then red at 10% (29).


When my yardage obsessed friend helped me calculate my stash yards back in 2008 it was around 40 miles, but today at the last count my yardage is 162,828 OR 92.5 miles.  So basically I could stretch my yarn from my house in Carrickfergus to Ballymoney and back again :-O.  I know its bloody shocking and if I dont get it under control now I’m going to end up a yarn hoarder which is even worse!

Stashdown Plan

So am I going to get my stashdown?  Well for a start going forward I will not buy yarn unless I really need it.  I did ‘cold sheeping’ for 5.5 months last year and it went okay until I came off it and then I went mad buying all the pretty yarns I had mentally noted during that time.  All it lead to was a mass purchase blast when I came off it so this year I am not cold sheeping.  I am going to be realistic.  If I really (and I mean really!) need it then I will buy it but I will not do the impulse purchases anymore.  But before I choose to buy it I will have to check my stash to see if I can dig out something suitable.  That might restrict me with colour choices but it will help me use up my stash.

The Rules

So just to refresh the rules for the rest of this year will be…

  1. Check stash for yarn needed first.
  2. If I don’t (and I mean really don’t) have the right yarn for a project I will buy it. But don’t buy yarn unless I really need it!
  3. Keep my ravelry stash log up-to-date and post weekly (Stash Sunday) about my progress
  4. Join more MKALs and knit-alongs to help me stash down (as I seem to finish things better when I have deadlines)
  5. Finally Remember to enjoy using all the pretty yarn I already have in my stash

So what about you…are you joining me to stash down?

Friday FO: Little House Shawl

This week’s Friday FO is a mini shawl that I made for a friends daughter. This is a free pattern on ravelry called the Little House Shawl created by Joanna Johnson who says the design was inspired by the books of Laura Ingalls Walder in Little House on the Praire.

The shawl itself comes in sizes child and adult so you could make a matching mother-daughter set if you wished. The matchy-matchy look is very on trend this season.

Its a good pattern to try as a first shawl. I really enjoyed making it and here’s the finished object…




I used lots of leftover yarn to do the feather and fan edging. You can have great fun playing around with the colours but it would work in a solid yarn just as well.

The shawl forms a half-crescent shape which wraps neatly over the shoulders. What a pretty gift to inspire a future knitter 🙂

Copyright: All images are copyright to Gillian Harkness. If you’d like to use any please ask first.

Tutorial Tuesday: Yarn Leftovers


Most knitters have a box, a basket or even a drawer full off leftover yarn from projects. But how do you know how much yarn is left? And what do you do you do with it?

I collect leftover yarn like there’s no tomorrow…most knitters are the same! Keeping track of what you have leftover can be as time consuming as managing your stash.

Recently I have been reviewing my stash to work out a plan of action to stash down in 2015. As part of this stash overhawl I’ve been cataloging my leftovers (though I’m not counting them as part of my mileage stashdown count…just in case a certain person was wondering! Lol It’s just an experiment to see how much leftover yarn I actually have…and hopefully help me focus on projects to use it up).

How do you work out yards left?

The first thing you need to know is work out what the yarn is…if you have a photographic memory like me that’s not too hard. If your a member of ravelry you could work out the yarn by scanning through your projects pages. Worse case scenario you have no idea…then ask your knit buddies…it’s surprising how some knitters just know what the yarn is from having a squish. For the leftovers you have no darn idea what they are we will come to them later…leave that pile to the side…there is other ways to use these up.

Once you have worked out what the yarn is then you’ll need to grab a set of scales and weigh the ball to see how many grams are left. Most households have some form of cooking scales which can work fine. I actually use a mini scale that is sold for jewellery merchants to weigh gold…your probably thinking its just because my yarn is as precious as gold ;-)…but it was so I weigh my yarn more acurately – I can get 0.000grams on the scale.

Once you know what the yarn is and how much is left then you can do a little mathematics to work out what is leftover. For example you have 10gs of yarn that is 150 yards per 50grams.  So 150/50 is 3 yards per gram.  So that would be 3×10 = 30.  So you would have 30 yards leftover.  Yes it’s as simple as that!

To store your left overs you can add a little sticky note with the details of the yarn and the yards left, and pop both into a small plastic food bag.

What do you do with your leftovers?

If your a member of ravelry you can get access to a huge volume of patterns that use small amounts of yarn.  There are a few particular favourites that keep trending on the threads.  Some of my personal favourites are:

1.  The Beekeepers Quilt

Individual little hexipuffs made using left over sock yarn (or any other fingering weight yarn) that can be sewn together to create a blanket or quilt.  They are knit in the round and are very portable projects (just like socks) that can be knit on the train, bus, in a queue or while chatting with friends.  This pattern has been so popular on ravelry there are currently almost 8,000 projects.  Now that’s a lot of hexipuffs!

2.  Vertices Unite

This is a Stephen West shawl.  It was one of three shawls released for Westknits Summer KAL 2014.  The shawl itself is formed from geometric shapes which gives the knitter scope for playing around with lots of colours.  Its built from the centre like a jigsaw and finished with a very pretty i-cord border.

3. Turn a Square

This is a hat design by Jared Flood (AKA Brooklyn Tweed).  It uses worsted weight yarn and as the pattern is striped you can create using your leftovers.  I have made a couple of these myself and it makes a great last minute gift.

4. Care of Magical Creatures Charm Bracelet

There are actually three versions of this bracelet (the link above is for the second one but the other can be easily found on ravelry).  Nothing more I can say than what a cute way to use up your leftovers!!

5. ZickZack Scarf

This is a free download on ravelry for a chevron scraft that can be made with numerous small amount of yarn – think enough for one or two rows at a time.

6. Baby Surprise Jacket

The legend that is ‘Elizabeth Zimmerman’ herself created this baby jacket pattern back in 1968 and it is still a firm favourite among the knitting world. Commonly referred to as BSJ the pattern has an amazing construction – you don’t actually know what its going to look like until the magic folding at the end.

7. POP Blanket

Designed by Tincan Knits through inspiration from American Pop Art this blanket can be made to any size desired.  It uses approximately 35 yards of yarn for per square and is a very portable project for on the go.

8. Saartje’s Bootees

If you need an emergency baby gift then these bootees are the way to go.  They are very cute and you can play with various colours to get different looks.  Then just add buttons, a little sewing of ends and they are ready to keep baby toes snug and warm.

9. Stitch Sampler Shawl

Anyone who knows me well knows that I do loves my shawls.  This one is very good for learning new stitch patterns and playing around with colour combinations.

10. Memory Blanket

Mitered squares individually created and sewn together to form any sized blanket you like.  A nice way to keep little bits of yarn from projects as your children grow as a memory of both the item knitted and the person you made it for.

What about the little pile of yarn you said to leave over to the side?

Well what better way to use those leftovers that you have no idea what the yarn is by making POMPOMS!!! 🙂