What makes me buy yarn?

So for today’s blog post I thought I would touch on yarn – otherwise known as ‘stash’. We love our stash don’t we?

In the timeline of stash development most knitters (but not all knitters!) start off with good old acrylic, in mostly pale solid colours. For perhaps baby gift knitting such as cardigans, blankets and hats.

Overtime (and this period of time varies depending on the knitter) we visit yarns shops and gradually meet more and more new pretties (yarn) and slowly our stash grows from acrylic to merino, from merino to alpaca, from alpaca to silk or cashmere (the good stuff!). Our fibre exploration grows and grows. There is so much natural fibre options out there these days and once you are hooked on the natural stuff it is very hard to go back to squeaky acrylic (IMO).

When you get to this stage I was told that means you are a yarn snob. But I say stuff that label. It just means you embrace the natural beauty of the world. Acrylic does have its place – personally I just can’t knit with it any more as it makes my hands itch.

So as you discover new fibres for knitting you also gradually get to grips with colour. I absolutely adore colour. For me colour is life! Why just have dull pale shades of black and white when you can have rainbows!

And colour is a huge thing to. There are deep tones, brights, pale natural shades and neons. There are solids, semi solids, speckles and gradients.

In fact the choice of both colour and fibre is mind blowing!

Now I’m going to set you a task – this weekend have a really good dig through your stash. What do you see? Do you see any trends? Do you have lots of one particular colour? One particular fibre? Do you have lots of every colour and fibre? Stash dive and explore. I promise you will be surprised when you look at the bigger picture.

For me colour goes along side my mood. So some days I crave bright pinks and reds (like a hug) and other days I need calm so I’m more drawn to blue. There is a psychology behind colour too. And as an holistic practitioner colour also means healing (I will talk more about this soon).

My colour palette used to focus on shades of reds or pink. Actually I would knit a lot with red. But over the last couple of years I have noticed this has changed and I’m exploring colour more & more. But not more muted tones. I’m actually growing a deeper bond with warmer tones of colour, although I’m still not sure about wearing neons. I have knit with them but I think you need a particular confidence to wear them and I’m not quite there yet. But Stephen West knows how to rock those beauties!!

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen me posting about my purchases last weekend at a yarn festival. Here’s a flash below. As you can see I really do love colour! I think its the colour that draws me to yarn purchases the most.

Did you know if you’re a member of ravelry and you have your stash uploaded there you can do in a colour search in your stash. I will put up a tutorial on how to do this over the weekend.

So take an hour this weekend. Review your stash. Explore what you have and come back next week to find out more about what your stash says about your personality.

Enjoy!

PS. I bet you find yarns you forgot you had too!!

 

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.

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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…

 

Dálki

 

BLOG POST UPDATE: There was over 8,500 downloads on ravelry for this hat pattern when I offered it as a free download when it was first released.

It’s now a paid pattern again but lots of people have fed back to me that they LOVE it because it is such simple construction – so great for budding beginners who want to make a hat for the Autumn/Winter (yes folks it’s not that far away now!!).

For some yarn inspiration you can see the current list of projects on ravelry here


You may have already seen my recent published Dálki Hat. I released it on Ravelry a few weeks ago, initially free for the month of February. But given its popularity and the numerous messages I have gotten to say “I missed it…can I have a copy?” I have decided to offer a discount this week in celebration of EYF.

Continue reading “Dálki”

Stash Sunday

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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…

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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).

Yardage/Mileage

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…

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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.