Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mission Possible 2008: the stash exposed

A few years ago at the annual January sale at my LYS (Local Yarn Shop for non-knitters), I overheard one woman say to her friend, "If I die suddenly, make sure you get into that shelf at the top of my closet, you know, over my blouses . . . there's another three boxes of stash in there that George doesn't know about." Lots of nervous laughter in the shop: we all knew that she was at least partly serious. While some knitters might buy their yarn project by project (in fact, I was like that for years, having no extra budget for stash at all), many of us are like magpies, having to take home new goodies, sure that we'll find a pattern to suit them someday. Or, like me, we buy an extra skein because our substitution calculations for a pattern are tentative and we don't want to run out and risk a dye lot change. Then the pattern turns out to need less than required and we've got two, or even three, extra skeins.
So those of you who know me, yet were surprised to learn how full my shoe closets are (as if I have such a luxury as shoe closets!), may begin guessing at the size of my yarn stash. Those who don't know me may begin to feel as if they do, especially if they're knitters or, perhaps, collectors of any kind, depending on how they evaluate said stash.
Although my yarn collection has been growing over the past few years, I haven't felt any compulsion to catalogue it, as I could on the brilliant knitting database site that is Ravelry (still in its Beta stage and not open to the public, but you can request an invitation and get in the queue). I did start trying to knit more and more from stash in the last year, especially for Christmas gifts such as wristwarmers, hats, and scarves. Despite these attempts, the yarn was taking over more and more space in an otherwise-designated closet, and to recover space, trim the budget, and reduce consumption a wee bit, I'm joining my first group on Ravelry (besides organizing, it provides several Facebook-like socializing options): Mission Possible 2008. Members of this group must commit to identifying 12 items from their stash and remove them from stash by the end of 2008.

1. and 2.
Here is the oldest yarn in my stash. In the bag on the right is all the Pingouin chenille needed to make a very cute sweater and I've even included the pattern. I don't like the look of the finished textile and doubt that blocking will make much difference. Besides, the yarn kept snapping in the row below and after that's happened three times, it's time to quit!
Chunky orange chenille, two skeins, intended for making cushion covers, but again, the finished fabric gave no joy and I lost interest.

Even more shameful is the abandoning of this Italian Velvet novelty yarn (by Drops), also intended cushion cover. The shame comes in the $25.00 or so spent on this skein which I have never even got onto a needle!

5. 6. and 7.

5. 9, yes 9! 50-gram balls of NZNaturally magic garden Cotton Candy Baby DK in a sage-y colour – I bought this about 6 years ago for a long tunic-like cabled sweater that I got very weary of knitting and realized I wasn’t even going to like it. Since then, I’ve made two baby sweaters from the frogged yarn and some of the intact skeins, but I still have 450 grams left!

6. This bag also contains 100-gram skein of Patons Classic Wool Merino, dark green, leftover from an afghan I knit 6 or 7 years ago. I didn’t like the way this felted when I washed it (Delicate Cycle).
7. 1 small skein (no label) Variegated purple novelty “eyelash” yarn – barely enough for one short scarf and I’ve had my fill of these.

OKAY, so as I understand the rules of Mission Possible, I'm allowed to give away, and that's what I'm doing with all of the above -- What did that little fly-killing tailor brag? (You remember that folk tale?) Seven at one stroke? That's me! A friend of mine who's at the young family stage that doesn't leave lots of budget for yarn has accepted my offer and is taking these off my hands. Thank you, Helen!

8. and 9.

In November, I found that the second expected baby I was knitting for turned out to be a girl. No Rocketry Cardigan for her, so I ordered two more Tulip kits. (I know, you're wondering why two. Me too. But you know, once I get Lily-Anne's finished, I want one of each for the next baby to come along. It makes sense, right?)

This is a stash-busting project that I began last year, using up yarn leftover from a Fleece Artist afghan kit. It looks as if it's not going to be enough for a long scarf, but I'm thinking I'll knit a buttonhole several inches from the end and find a cool big button so that it can be a short scarf that still fastens well.

These are leftover skeins of Zara, a merino I love. The brown and rust are left over from the Shedirs I knit, and the green is from a frogged hat experiment. I'm thinking that two of them might stripe up into a Beanie for next year's gifts.
Both balls are Handmaiden Cashmere 4-ply, left over from earlier projects. The orange ball was originally the size of the black one until I made an Odessa from it. I suspect there's enough to make another, but I think first I'll make an Odessa from the black (and try beading it this time). Then perhaps combine what's left of orange and black for a beanie or wristwarmers.
Using up these 12 items would fulfil the De-stash requirements for Mission Possible, but I'm aware that I have perhaps stretched the giveaway rules a wee bit, so I'm prepared to come clean about the rest of my stash and try to get rid of as much as possible this year (although I will make no promises at all about not buying more).
With all the working from stash I tried to do before Christmas, I never let myself even unwind, let alone cast on, this gorgeous Cashmere 2Ply from Handmaiden. I'm thinking either fingerless mitts or very short (anklet) socks.

I have 3 skeins of Hempathy leftover from the lacy cardigan I made. I think this could make quite a nice scarf, perhaps even with a beaded fringe. Not too motivated right now, since it's more a summer fabric, but it might be fun to try out various stitches with. I could also make a net bag which would be handy for shopping.

2 skeins of Handmaiden Seasilk, bought January 2007 on sale and intended for a scarf – in fact, I started one and frogged it because the pattern didn’t suit the yarn variegation. I’d love to finish this – unfortunately, I suspect I have enough for two scarves!

And at some point, I'll deserve a reward for working through this stash: finally getting to cast on this gorgeous Camelspun. Again, I'm not sure what this will end up as, although when I bought it, I was thinking of either a scarf, or long fingerless mitts

Here's an assortment of mohairs, including enough KidSeta for a a scarf or cowl -- that beautiful beaded piece -- Ice Queen -- in the winter Knitty.
I think the heavier mohairs might get incorporated into another throw I'm going to make for the apartment. But I'm going to put that off for a while because it's one of those stash-busting projects that you end up buying more yarn for and then having more leftovers and then . . .
All kinds of sock leftovers. Not sure how these could ever be combined into something palatable so I may just give myself permission to hang onto them for a few more years. I do like the mini-stockings and mini-sweaters that some knitters make up as Christmas ornaments. Or perhaps to make into Nikki Epstein-inspired flowers for garnishing.

I have already made two berets from the Kid Classic I had left over from the Cable Front Pullover I made from VK last year. And there's still almost three skeins left. This might end up in the throw I'm planning.
Charcoals, greys, worsted-weight (including the Maple Seed hat to be frogged). Hats probably, maybe fingerless mitts, although I'm not sure how much this yarn softens up.

Finally, two skeins of the variegated grey Madil Kid Seta that I made the Reversible Rib Shawl from. There's certainly plenty here for a scarf.
So there you have it! For knitting readers, this won't be terribly shocking. In fact, it's fairly modest compared to some of the stashes organized in Ravelry. How does it compare to yours? And my non-knitting readers, what do you think? Did you ever suspect such a magpie compulsion? Can we still be friends?
I know I promised the Koolhaas. It's done, but I leave too early and get home too late for any kind of decent photography light.
I'm heading to Vanc'r tomorrow (I'm going to try to catch the Roy Arden show at the VAG before it closes and maybe finally see a movie or two from my list). Not sure how likely I am to post again before Monday, so hope your weekend is a good one.


  1. Such beautiful colors and textures! I used to have the same "stash" problem with fabrics, trim and findings back in the days when I was sewing Renaissance costumes.

    I've never knitted a stitch in my life, but I'm starting to get tempted to take it up.

  2. Deja: I should have known that even as a non-knitter, you'd have an appreciation for colours and textures. I have to admit I have occasionally bought yarn with no knitting intent at all, but merely to enjoy it atop my basket of stash and I argue that the whole basket constitutes a decorative item on a par with sculpture or painting. Sometimes it's a bit of a stretch, but I believe it.
    Renaissance costumes, eh? A whole new side of you -- that deserves a post or two, don't you think?

  3. Yes, my Inner Nerd at times still has a voice. :-)

    Even though it's been a good 15 years since I've "wenched," I still have a few of my favorite costume pieces stashed in the closet. Maybe I'll pull them out and take a few pics.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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