Saturday, September 17, 2011

Memory Lane Part 2: Girl Sweaters

In my last post, I indulged in a little reminiscing about sweaters I've knit for my boys that they've now outgrown. Now it's time for Part 2, where I give a last look at the sweaters (and other items) I made for my girls in years past.

I had so much fun passing these on to a friend with a brand new daughter. It felt like Santa Claus in September! The "oohs" and "aahs" she and her mother gave over each one were extremely gratifying, of course, but the greatest pleasure was knowing that these products of my love-filled labor will not spend years gathering dust in a closet. I hope she will do as I suggested and pass them on to another new little one when they have been outgrown once again. The thought of these sweaters being loved many times truly warms my heart!

Every once in a while I find myself in a knitting "slump", when I don't have a desire to pick up the needles much at all. Going through these knitted memories, however, was enough to keep my creative batteries charged up for a very long time!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memory Lane Part 1: Boy Sweaters

I, like many knitters I know, slow down a bit on productivity during the summer months. We've been having lots of fun around here, enjoying beautiful weather, and sharing lots of summer adventures. That does translate into a little less knitting than usual. One thing I have been doing, though, is going through the sweaters that my children have outgrown, reminiscing about the days when they used to be so small, taking photos, then sending them on to new homes where I feel confident they will be loved and used as intended. 

I must admit I was surprised at just how many I have managed to knit for my own children over the years! Lots and lots of lovingly crafted sweaters and other small items have been gifted to others since I picked up the needles again about 11 years ago, but I had forgotten how many stayed here to warm my own flesh and blood. I don't often wax sentimental, but this trip down memory lane was definitely an occasion for nostalgia!

These are photos of most of the boy sweaters (plus a sleeper and a couple of hats) my guys wore when they were infants and toddlers. (I don't know how well you can tell, but the photo above on the right shows B's pumpkin costume his first Halloween!)

As you can tell, I lean heavily towards blues and greens for my boys, as well as having a strong preference for vests. It has been so much fun to pause for a moment just to remember some of the cute little knits from my past! (Stay tuned for "Memory Lane Part 2: Girl Sweaters".)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Less is More: The Power of Constraints


If you have been following this blog from the very beginning, you know that it was born from my self-issued challenge not to buy new yarn this year. This has been a fantastic choice for me, because it has forced me to face my stash and realize just how much wonderful yarn I already have to work with. Aside from one justifiable yarn emergency, I have kept to my resolve not to bring new yarn in, and I'm making steady progress as far as sending it out in the form of finished items. It feels great!

One side-effect of this decision, however, is the fact that I'm now working with a finite amount of yarn in a finite number of fibers, weights, and colors. No longer am I allowing myself the luxury of browsing for a new project among the endless fiber possibilities both local and online. Sounds like a drag, right? Like a limit on my creativity? In reality, though, I have found these self-imposed constraints to be a fantastic fuel for the creative process.

Really?, you ask. Am I just trying to put a good face on it? Well, let me show you a project where a limited amount of yarn led to unexpected, yet (IMO) great results.

One such example is shown in the photo above. It's a spring top for my toddler which I call "Daisy Belt" (her name for the old song "Daisy, Daisy", where the girl being sung to is named Daisy Bell). I started out with a pattern called the "Shades of Summer Dress" {Ravelry link} by fantastic up-and-coming designer Elena Nodel (aka Anadiomena).

I knew I wanted to use this light blue yarn from my stash, but I didn't have a whole lot of it. I knew right from the start that this would not actually be a dress, but a top. Luckily, the pattern is worked from the top down, so I knew I could just knit until it was gone. As I went along, however, I realized that I would definitely NOT have enough blue to knit the ruffle unless I made it way too short. What to do?


Well, I knew I was going to put white daisies at the waist (it had to be called "Daisy Belt", after all!), so I wondered if a white ruffle would look good on the bottom. Might as well try, right? I had a few different white yarns in my stash, though not the same yarn as the blue. I've never really experimented with "mixing" yarns in a project, but because of my Yarn Out Challenge, I was now compelled to try it. I experimented with a couple of different options until I settled on the final choice.

What a fantastic result! I am thrilled with the way it turned out, and I have received some great feedback from the Ravelry community. Honestly, if I had not been constrained by my stash, I don't think I would have come out with a project half so wonderful. My creativity and problem-solving skills were forced into action in a way they would not have been if I had purchased the right amount of yarn to knit the original dress. Who knew limits could be so liberating?

I have more to say on this topic with at least one more example to share, but I'll save that for another post. Meanwhile, if you're interested in different points of view on it, read this, this, and this.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Boy Sweater


Here's another baby sweater I completed a little while ago. It's a great basic pattern for a toddler pocket pullover that I've made many times in different colors and with different modifications (including upsizing it by using thicker yarn). It's called "Wee Willie Whistle" {Ravelry link}, from a book by designer Louisa Harding entitled Miss Bea's Band. (This is one of 6 books in her "Miss Bea" series, which I adore.)

Here's a close-up of the fun star buttons I used at the shoulders. (Is it just me, or are cute "boy" buttons much harder to find than cute "girl" buttons?)


This one has already been gifted and was well-received. I am definitely having a lot of fun with my baby sweater challenge this year!

The Reincarnation of Blankie


So, I guess it's been a while since I posted. That doesn't mean, however, that my needles have been still. In fact, I have quite a backlog of projects to show off here! The first is "Take 2" of B's special "Blankie". (If you don't know the backstory on this, you'll want to read this post.)

I finished Blankie II on our trip to Utah at the beginning of April. (I even had just enough yarn left over to knit a miniature blanket for his stuffed animals.) B was very complimentary--"That looks awesome, Mom!" and even, "It's so soft and snuggly, Mom!" However, he was not ready to give up Blankie-the-First quite yet. We managed to convince him to sleep with both the old and the new, and discussed the sad truth of having to say goodbye to the original when we returned home.

All during the drive back home, he held tight to his old blanket. I was very concerned that the transition was going to be too painful. However, the moment we arrived home, B surprised us all by walking into the house and immediately throwing "Old Blankie" in the trash! Since then, he has wholeheartedly embraced "New Blankie". Whew! Crisis averted!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baby Sweater #7

I managed to finish N's sweater all except for the zipper. I will hopefully be installing that sometime this week, then I'll take some photos and dedicate a post to that project.

In the meantime, I've completed another baby gift--a cute girl sweater:


This is from a (free!) pattern called "Provence Baby Cardigan" (available here). I made several modifications, though (of course!): knitting the body as one piece, mirroring the leaf pattern on the fronts, knitting the sleeves down from the armholes, and doing a seed-stitch collar instead of the rolled version in the original pattern. {Ravelry link} Here's a close-up on one of the buttons:


And here's a detail of the leaf pattern:


I love how it turned out! I tried to enjoy the "girliness" of this project as much as possible, because the next several babies I will be knitting for are all boys! (This seems to be a year for having boys among my friends and acquaintances.) I hope the recipients parents will love it, too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Yarn Emergency

You may notice that my yarn-purchase counter (see sidebar) has been recently reset. This was the result of a true yarn emergency. You didn't know such a thing existed? You must not be a knitter. Or at least not a knitter with a three-year-old who is extremely attached to his "Blankie".

Here is a photo of the blanket I knit for B in the last few weeks before he joined us on this side of the womb:


How can I describe the feelings that went into this project? Creating something soft and warm for a tiny being growing inside of me, who is part of me . . . well, if you've ever created something for your own unborn child, you will understand. Here is a photo of him with the blanket at just a tad over two weeks old:


He seems sort of oblivious to it in that photo, but in the three-and-a-half years since then, B has grown rather fond of "Blankie". It goes with him everywhere, and is a necessary companion at naptime or bedtime. It has been a very real source of comfort to him through the stresses of infant- and toddlerhood. This, for example, is what he wanted to do when we brought him home from the hospital after surgery on his thumb:


Although all of my children have special blankets they've loved since birth, B is unique in choosing a "favorite corner" on his. I have no idea what made that corner special--it never seemed any different to me--but he could always differentiate it from the other three. In fact, in the past couple of years, he would insist on finding that corner before he could settle down with Blankie. He would gently rub it back and forth across his upper lip, visibly calming down almost immediately.

More recently, he began inserting his fingers into the stitches of his favorite corner, pulling and twisting them out of shape. The holes got larger and larger, but to be honest, I was surprised by how long the yarn held up under this kind of "loving". A few days ago, however, we noticed that B's favorite corner now looked like this:


It's hard to tell from the photo, but the hole is large enough to fit over B's head--definitely a safety hazard. We were able to effect a temporary fix by tying a large knot in the corner, but it's only a matter of time before he unties it. I've been trying to prepare him for the necessity of a new blanket ever since I noticed the beginnings of a hole, but I'm not sure he truly understands what that will mean. I had him look through blanket patterns with me and talked about choosing yarn colors, but he just smiled and said, "The kind you already made is the right one, Mom!"

So, I purchased the same yarn in the same color (so glad it's still available!) to attempt a reincarnated version of Blankie. (From Jimmy Beans Wool, if you want to know. Best customer service of any yarn shop I have ever experienced!) I realize that he may completely reject the resulting blanket, but I have to try! I feel very gratified that something I made for him has brought such love and comfort to him for so long, and can only hope that a new blanket will do the same in its own way.

Friday, March 04, 2011

March Progress Report

I once knew a woman who declared March 4th her own personal holiday--as in "March Forth", a day to evaluate her life, decide on necessary changes, and commit to moving forward. This is the same sort of thing many people do on January 1st, I guess, but I love the idea of having additional checkpoints throughout the year. I don't know about you, but I definitely need them!

If you've been following this blog from the beginning, you'll know that I have set myself a challenge (well, a group of related challenges, really) in order to bring focus to my knitting life and hopefully allow my creativity to blossom. This is my monthly progress report on how I am doing with those challenges.

Stash Goals
  • No yarn in. Still staying strong! (See counter in sidebar.) 
  • Catalog patterns in Ravelry. Still at the same place as last month--trying to figure out how to keep track of things that are not in Ravelry's database or not able to be added to my Ravelry library.
  • Keep a project queue on Ravelry. This is one of the best tools for me to stay focused. Part of my problem in the past was losing track of projects I had in mind, even if I already had the yarn for them. The queue is a lifesaver!
  • Use up oddballs and leftovers. No further progress on this during the past month. I may need to specifically schedule an "oddball" project in between other projects in order to make this actually happen.
Gift-giving Goals
  • Create a gift for each baby born in my local church this year. I have completed six baby sweaters/vests (five of which have been delivered to the recipients), and have everything ready to go for gifts seven and eight. I will begin on those as soon as my current project (a sweater for my older son) is completed.
  • Knit at least one sweater for my husband and each of my children. I have finished The Big Gray Sweater for J and The Cream Puff Sweater for my older daughter. As mentioned, I have a pullover for my older son currently on the needles, which I anticipate being able to finish sometime next week. I am still deciding what to knit for my younger two children, but I'd say I'm doing great on this!
  • Knit at least three new items for myself. As I expected, this may just be the most difficult of all my goals. I have decided to focus on knitting something for myself after the next two baby gift sweaters are completed--maybe if I schedule it, it will actually happen!
  • Create at least three random gifts. Still mulling this over.

So, now to move on. Happy "March Forth"!

Note: I realized this morning that the comment function was not enabled on these posts. Oops! (I have been receiving so much feedback on Facebook that I didn't even notice.) I have now enabled comments, however, in case you were dying to leave one here. :)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Baby Gift #6: A Boy Vest


Here is another baby gift completed, which brings my 2011 total up to 6 so far. I am currently working on a pullover for my oldest son ("Finally, Mom!"), but then I have two more baby sweaters (one for a boy and one for a girl) that need to be completed this month. I feel great about staying on top of this goal!

The above vest is one I come back to over and over again--I've made it several times in different yarns and sizes. (My younger son has grown through two of them--time for another!) The original pattern has a smaller neck opening and buttons on one shoulder, but I prefer the ease of a larger opening with no buttons to fiddle with. It's called the Oz Vest by Louisa Harding {Ravelry link}, from her book Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. Hope the recipient's parents will like it!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The "Cream Puff" Sweater and The Finishing Process


As promised, my next project after The Big Gray Sweater was a "girlie" one--a spring top for my daughter. (If I knit spring clothing, spring will come sooner, right?) It's from a Sublime pattern called Frangipani {Ravelry link}, but I call my version "Cream Puff" because of the yarn color I chose and the modified sleeves, which are slightly puffed. (See this blog post for details on the sleeve construction.)

Over the years, I've received lots of comments on the quality of my finished knitted items. As I have mentioned here before, I am constantly striving to perfect my finishing techniques. I think there is a difference between something looking "homemade" and something looking "handmade" or "hand crafted", and I do my best to achieve the latter.

Sometimes, though, people get the wrong idea. Once, a friend who hadn't been knitting for very long told me that seeing my finished items made her feel like a complete failure. After talking to her about it, I discovered that she assumed my projects looked like that as I was knitting them! (Oh, if only that could be true!) In actual fact, nothing comes off my knitting needles looking perfect. Finishing takes work, and is really a craft in and of itself.

Just to give you a basic idea of the process, I've decided to swallow my pride and show some photos of this Cream Puff Sweater before it was finished. The image below shows the two front pieces before they were joined to the back:


Notice the curling edges, the bumpy, uneven stitches, and the yarn ends hanging out. It's always tempting at this point to despair. I mean, who would want to wear a sweater that looks like that? And, honestly, even though I have experienced this stage over and over again and know it is not how the finished item will look, I still feel a little niggling doubt when I see this. Here's a photo further on in the process, when the sleeves were completed, the back and fronts sewn together, and the collar knitted on:


Better, yes, but still curling, still bumpy, still sporting stray yarn ends. Even after weaving those in, the sweater will look awful. Do I throw up my hands in despair? No! I take a deep breath and move forward with faith! Time to wash and block:


Here is the sweater in the sink, swimming in a bath of mild soap and cool water.


And here it is all pinned out on my blocking tiles to dry into a more presentable state! Getting it wet causes the yarn to relax, and stretching it out to pin it smooths out the uneven stitches. When it's dry (this cotton blend took forever to dry, by the way), I just needed to sew on some buttons:


Then it was ready for K to wear! I am very happy with how it turned out, but--more importantly--she loves it! Definitely a successful project.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Big Gray Sweater


It's finished! I am ridiculously elated to be able to say that. I spent the better part of one day just looking at it and marveling that it was actually completed. (And that it turned out great, though I say it myself!) J loves it. He wouldn't take it off all of Friday, and on Saturday he even wore it while presenting at a conference! (It has officially proven itself in public.)


The most amazing thing about this project was a new technique I tried for installing a zipper. My knitting life will never be the same again! I read about it in Interweave Knits, and there's a video tutorial here.

It involves using a little tool called a knitpicker that looks like an ultra-tiny latch hook:


After marking my zipper tape (see the video), I used the knitpicker to pull loops of yarn up through the garment front (in one particular column of stitches) and then through the zipper itself, placing the loops on a knitting needle:


I then knit each stitch together with a picked-up loop from the body, and immediately cast off. (A little tricky to explain in words, but if you've ever attached a patch pocket as-you-knit, it's basically the same technique.) This is the resulting zipper facing (on the wrong side of the sweater):


I love how neat and finished it looks. I'm quite a finishing perfectionist, but I've never had much luck making zippers look good. Now, though? So long zipper-installation phobia! I'll probably start inserting zippers everywhere . . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Boy Sweater

I'm currently about halfway through a sweater project for my husband (a gray alpaca pullover version of the Cambridge Jacket. Scroll down on that page if you're interested.) {Ravelry link} It's not quite as fun to post progress photos of a large, gray piece of knitting, though, (or to knit it, really!) so I'll save that for when it's completed.

I did take a break while making a decision on the zipper details, and seized the opportunity to knit this:

It's from a pattern called Kinsale, and I finished it in three days! (It's knit top-down with minimal seaming, if you care about that kind of detail. I added the applied i-cord edging around the neck and widened the sleeves slightly.) I think it will be a handsome and practical sweater for a soon-to-be-born little guy. {Ravelry link}

There seems to be more "wow" factor with girl sweaters in general, but it's nice to alternate. I need to make something with lace or ruffles next. (After I finish the large gray project, that is--back to work on that one now!)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Lemonade from Lemons: Another Baby Gift

Just a quick post to show off my latest finished project. This cute little sweater is based on a Sirdar pattern purchased from Patternfish. (Have you heard of Patternfish? No? Check them out!)

I completed the body and edgings first, then started on the sleeves. This is not my usual order of business, but I couldn't wait to see how the ruffle would turn out. This was good, because I ran into some trouble with the sleeves fitting into the caps. I may have ripped the entire thing out in frustration if I didn't have a nearly completed sweater batting its eyes at me, waiting sweetly for its sleeves.

After a couple of days of research and thought, I ended up trying out an unusual technique of knitting the sleeves downward from the armholes. (I've done this several times with a square armhole, but it's much trickier with a set-in sleeve.) I followed the formula for "afterthought sleeves" in Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits, but I know a similar method is explained in Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top.

This worked great, except that it made a wider sleeve than intended in the pattern, which therefore required more yarn. Since I was working with a limited amount of yarn (cf. my "Yarn Out" Challenge), I decided to make short sleeves instead of long. To deal with the extra width, I decreased one-third of the stitches at the armband, resulting in a cute puffed look. (Yeah, I meant to do that all along.) Talk about lemonade from lemons! I may start doing this kind of sleeve on purpose for girls' spring and summer sweaters from now on.

Another "glass of lemonade" resulted when the buttonhole turned out to be too small. The size of button that would fit through it looked puny and insignificant in comparison with the rest of the sweater. I had the idea to make a snap closure instead, using the small button as the center of a sweet flower on top. Now that's more like it! Amazing how a project can turn out even better than the original when creativity and determination meet unexpected problems . . . . {Ravelry link}

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Progress Report

About a month has passed since I first decided to begin my 2011 "Yarn Out" Challenge. I feel it is time for a monthly progress report on my goals. Here goes!

Stash Goals
  • No yarn in. As you can see by my counter in the sidebar, I am doing great!
  • Catalog stash in Ravelry. Done! I LOVE being able to "shop my stash" from the computer. Glad I finally made the effort to do this!
  • Catalog patterns in Ravelry. Nearly done. I have entered all the books and leaflets that are linked in the Ravelry library. I didn't see a way to add single patterns that I own to my personal library, so I'm having to be a little more creative with this one and it's going to take some more time.
  • Keep a project queue on Ravelry. I have been doing this, and it works great for me to remember what I want to create.
  • Use up oddballs and leftovers. This will be a continuing goal. I am currently working on clothes for my daughter's 18" dolls.
Gift-giving Goals
  • Create a gift for each baby born in my local church this year. So far, so good! I've completed four, and have projects queued for the next three I know about. The trick will be to keep on top of the baby news!
  • Knit at least one sweater for my husband and each of my children. I am about halfway through a sweater for my husband--I'm planning for that project to take about two more weeks. (Largest one done first!) I have projects queued for two of my children, but have yet to decide on what to make for the other two.
  • Knit at least three new items for myself. I have the yarn and patterns all ready to go. The hard part on this one will be choosing to work on something for me once in a while!
  • Create at least three random gifts. I have a couple of ideas for this one, but have not decided on anything concrete. (I do know who one of the recipients will be for sure, but am still deciding on the perfect project.)
Articulating my goals and "reporting" to others about them through this blog has worked as a great motivator for me. I feel great about my progress so far!

Monday, February 07, 2011

My Gift-Giving Challenge

One of the great side benefits of my knitting hobby is the joy of giving lovingly handmade items to others. (Now, I'll admit that not everyone appreciates a hand-knit gift, but most people I've given items to have at least pretended to like them.) Some knitters find the most satisfaction in the process of knitting. I, however, knit because I love the product of knitting and what it represents--a unique, hand-crafted manifestation of my love for another person.

I have realized that this is the reason why much of the yarn that remains in my stash was purchased to make sweaters for myself. It's not quite as much fun to knit for me as it is to create gifts for others, so these projects often get sidelined or even forgotten. As I work toward my goal of working through my yarn stash, however, I will be revisiting these projects and giving some "gifts" to myself as well.

I have decided to set some actual goals for gift-giving (to myself and others) in order to help me along in my "Yarn Out" Challenge. Here they are:
  • Knit or crochet a gift for each baby born in my ward (local church group) during 2011.
  • Knit at least one new sweater for my husband and each of my children this year.
  • Knit at least three new items for myself this year.
  • Knit or crochet at least three "random" gifts for others during 2011.
Again, I reserve the right to re-evaluate my goals throughout the year, but I feel like this is a good place to start!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ninety Gallons of Yarn

Yes, it's true! I finished an inventory of all the yarn in my closet. (Well, nearly all. There were a few random things that didn't make it into the count for various reasons, but I'm calling it good for now.) This is really no small accomplishment, since it involved taking photos of each yarn, uploading the photos, and entering the appropriate information in my Ravelry notebook. I won't complain too much, because the amazing Ravelry database really does take a lot of the tedious work out of the process. Still, when you've collected as much yarn as I have, a complete inventory takes time.

Just how much yarn are we talking here? Well, let's put it this way. I'm storing it in 28-quart Sterilite bins in my closet, and I came up with . . . drumroll . . . over 90 gallons of yarn. (J says that "Ninety Gallons of Yarn" would make a great name for a blog. What do you think?) I realize that some people will drop their jaws at this amount, while others will scoff at how little I have. The size of a knitter's yarn stash is extremely personal, and I personally have decided that I can no longer drift by with the excuse that I am also a yarn collector. My stash is currently too large for me, and I want to do something about it.

Now the question I have is what my goal will be. I don't really feel the need to get down to "Yarn Zero". In fact, I definitely want to have at least some yarn on hand for last-minute gift knitting. I'm going to tentatively set my goal at two bins of yarn remaining in my closet by the end of 2011. With no yarn coming in and lots going out in the form of beautiful handmade items, I feel good about this goal. However, I will allow myself to periodically reevaluate and revise this number if necessary.

In related news, I have made significant headway on my book, magazine, and pattern inventory. This is important, because once all of those are cataloged, I will be able to use the amazing tools on Ravelry to pair up actual yarns in my stash with actual patterns I already own. (Imagine that!) I will be able to do this kind of searching from my computer instead of leafing through shelves of books and digging through bins of yarn. I will be able to see and know almost at a glance what I have and what I can make with it. Brilliant!

Finishing Frenzy

"Winning isn't always finishing first. Sometimes winning is just finishing."
~Manuel Diotte

This turned out to be a weekend for finishing, and boy do I feel like a winner! I made some great progress toward my goals, and, most importantly, I still have a great level of motivation to continue.

First of all, I finished my yarn inventory. (I'm going to write a separate post on the results, so stay tuned!) I also added finishing touches (like buttons) to some gifts, including these:

Front of toddler vest {Ravelry link} made from the Aidan pattern by Holli Yeoh.

Back view of vest. This one only used about half as much yarn as I had anticipated, so I should be able to make another one to gift at some point.

This is a smaller version of a pattern called Girls Cap Sleeve Cardigan Vest from Knitting Pure and Simple. I used some cute pink flower buttons that I've had in my button stash for quite a while, too! {Ravelry link}

This little vest is a perfect example of the quote at the top of this post. It's a project I started and nearly finished (ahem) a couple of years ago, and finally finished this weekend! I had it all completed except for the arm and neck bands--I couldn't find an edge treatment that looked right to me. After letting it hibernate for (ahem) a couple of years, I was inspired with a simple and elegant solution: pick up stitches, one round stockinette, then bind off. I think it turned out perfectly! It was inspired by a pattern in a book called Vogue Knitting on the Go: Baby Knits, but I made several modifications to the original. {Ravelry link}

My daughter specifically asked me to make her some slippers for her approaching birthday, and I remembered this cute crochet pattern from Hook Candy I had purchased a while back. They were extremely quick to work up, I used up some stash yarn, and I made my girl happy--what's not to like? I'm going to have to make some for my toddler and myself now, too. {Ravelry link}

I also resurrected a long-ago finished sweater that I hadn't worn in a couple of years at least. One of the buttons had fallen off, so I planned to replace it. Then I decided that I didn't like the original buttons anymore, so I replaced them. It was also looking quite pilly, so I used my handy fabric shaver to give it a new lease on life. Here it is:

I wore it today and got several compliments. It's based on a pattern from one of the Yarn Girls books, but I made lots of modifications. My favorite is the cabled button band with the buttonholes built into the cables! (Yes, I realize I am a knitting nerd.)

So, that's my update for now. Hope to be back soon with the details of my yarn inventory.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My 2011 "Yarn Out" Challenge

After years of denial, I am at last ready to admit that I have some bad habits when it comes to yarn. Did you know I have some yarn? Yes, I love the stuff, and I have a whole lot of it filling up bins and boxes on shelves in my walk-in closet. (That's not my closet in the picture above, by the way. I just wish it was!) I use yarn to knit and crochet, of course. However, I am at a stage in my life where I have far less time to indulge in these crafts than I might wish, yet, I still have all that yarn. And, until a few weeks ago, a lot more of it was coming in than was going out as finished projects.

Someone on one of the popular knitting lists long ago came up with a fantastic acronym that exactly describes the root of my problem: HALFPINT. It stands for "Have A Lovely Fantasy Project, but I've No Time." I always seemed to be able to find time to dream of new projects and even order the necessary yarn for them. Finding time to actually use the yarn and create the project was harder to come by. And with the yarn stashed in a bin in my closet, it was far too easy to forget what I actually had.

The time has come to finally take control of my yarn. This is going to be the year, my friends! Instead of framing it as a New Year's Resolution (does anyone keep those?), I've decided to give myself a challenge. I'm always game for a good challenge! And writing it all down where others can see it is a way to keep myself accountable.

Here are my rules:
  • Absolutely NO yarn "in" for 3 months. This will be effective from the date of my last yarn purchase, which was January 4th, 2011, so my target date is April 4th. At that point, I will evaluate my progress and decide if I need to continue the strict embargo, or if I can relax the terms a bit.
  • Catalog all my yarn using the incredible tools on Ravelry. Post an honest accounting here of what I have.
  • Catalog all my patterns on Ravelry.
  • Keep a queue of projects (also on Ravelry) in order to remember what I want to create!
  • Use up oddballs and leftovers by making doll clothes, blankets, etc.
The purpose of all the cataloging is for me to have easy access to the resources I already own. I'm hoping that being able to easily "shop my stash" online will help stave off the temptation of browsing for new yarn and patterns. (And if you are at all interested in needle/fiber arts, you MUST check out Ravelry. It is mind-blowing. How did knitters or crocheters LIVE before Ravelry?)

Once I know just how much yarn I actually own, I want to set a specific goal for how much of it needs to go "out". I've already started out the year with a gift-making frenzy (everyone seems to be having babies around here!), which has given me a great momentum. Here's to my 2011 "Yarn Out" Challenge!