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!