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!