Thursday, February 09, 2017

To stash or not to stash?

The kitties do make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It is very soothing to make the face and see how the personality grows and the little thing sort of starts to speak. That is true of all the creature-making. It must be because it finds the child in me. In most of my adult days it is seldom seen, but once I start making a toy or a picture with an animal or a doll in it, it triggers something, it wakes up the sleeping kid and it does feel good to be connected to her at times. Maybe this is true with most adults who make toys or imaginary creatures. In this imaginary world, nothing needs to be perfect either, it is those mishaps that really make a person come alive.

Sometimes we as adults hate to waste time and refer to playing somehow as a waste of productive time. Playing is stressed to be a child’s work, but I think that play really means freedom of creativity, a permission to enter a range where you can create with no other reason than for the joy of making. I do love to make a garment and if it is successful after all the problem solving that was involved in the making, the finished garment feels a true accomplishment and I can prance around proudly wearing it but when I have made a toy (for me!), the feeling is different, even though there might have been even more problem solving involved. I guess the whole process is more emotional than rational, so in many ways different mentally. Making a toy, always manages to bring happiness back to me.

Thank you for your comments, I love getting feedback. I have not doubled the yarn often, but that is something to think about in the future. The crochet pattern I used in the scarf in these pictures and in the shawl in the previous ones, is called Crosshatch in Sarah Hazell’s stitch dictionary.
There is a tutorial in New Stitch a Day of this pattern stitch. MarlyBird gives a very good chart on it.
I found a tutorial in Raverly by Lauri Bolland on how to turn this stich pattern and crochet it corner to corner. This (Pinterest link) is the tutorial I used. I hope this helps.
I finished the scarf and it does feel good for two reasons, the color combination did work even though I had my doubts and I used 400 grams of Drops Alpaca (1440m/1296y). I had the old skeins in my stash where the ball band tells you that 50 grams is 180m but today the yardage has changed and it is only 167m per 50 grams. It is a bit heavier these days. I probably would still use 3mm hook for it.
The scarf is a good size, I could have continued a bit more, but since it was getting heavy, I decided to call it done and added clusters of 5 double crochet stitches on both ends. I crocheted rows of these at random intervals along the way too. I had two skeins that gave me trouble, I was not sure of including them at all, but then knew that if I could not add them here, they would linger in the stash into the unforeseen future. This brown was one and then the greenish brown the other. But now that they are there, they seem to belong to the group. Maybe they are the ones that add this little crack, that is always needed.
This yarn combined with this stitch pattern brings out the best of both, I think. It somehow adds to the soft quality of yarn without it losing its whole body and becoming too soft and out of control. Now my collection of alpacas has odd balls left, but not much of the same quality.
I am thinking of making another long scarf and will try to use all the different ones in this one. I made a little square using another stitch pattern and while it worked beautifully with Drops Alpaca, it did not work out with the less fuzzier ones.
It somehow dulled those, so I am back to the Crosshatch pattern. You would think that I would be fed up with this pattern… well, I was there for a bit and made these little wristers in between and now am ready to go back.
Before making the wristers, I swatched again and I discovered two new things. Short rows work in crochet, they are very noticeable, but they look intentional and not distorted or bad in any way. And this edging, I think it is lovely. Both findings will hopefully someday become a part of a sweater or a shawl. These wristers were crocheted with heavier Alpaca yarn, it might have been Vidal Alpaca by Hjertegarn, but I am not sure. It felt heavier and since I was making wristers, I wanted to have more stability than with the shawl or the scarf and thus used the same size hook, 3mm.
These cuffs were very quick to make. I had my fears (coming mostly from a knitting back ground) that this mosaic crochet would produce very thick and stiff pattern, but that is not true at all. The feel of the cuffs is just lovely, it is soft and since they are done sideways, there is plenty of stretch as well.
I had to add buttons as crochet and odd buttons just go together so well in my mind and had to try bit of embroidery. I would not even call it embroidery, but as it involved thread and actual needle with an eye, it can be called that. It does add a lovely bit to the cuff.
Only the other cuff has this detail, as I was afraid of running out of the blue yarn and had to stretch it by doing mosaic pattern to the very end. (There is starting or it has started already a CAL called Hygge. The design is by Kirsten Ballering and there is beautiful embroidery on the shawl that I believe is done when the actual crochet is done. If you are interested in crochet and embroidery, you might want to take a peek. The shawl is a beauty.)
Going through this Alpaca stash has taught me many things. First, one ball of yarn goes a long way, there is always more than you think. Even when you tire of some yarn and think that it is troublesome and that there is never going to be a good place for it, there most likely is. There comes a time and a place for it. Sometimes one just needs to cast aside all the prejudice and with an open mind search for something totally new.
When I have something lovely to work with in the beginning, most likely new yarn, the expectations run high. When I take old yarn, the expectations are low and the final product can surprise in a happy way (of course the opposite is totally possible too, but that is the same for both). There is something very gratifying in using the stash.
(This last picture has the colors just about right.)
But… I could not live without a stash. I need all these possibilities that the stash provides me. It truly is like a box of colored pencils, I could not only have one, I need many. And not only colored pencils in one color, but I also need water colors, and pens and ink pens… for collages I need different papers… you get the point.

When I go to a yarn store, I hardly ever any more buy anything for a certain project in mind. I buy what feels right and is beautiful in whatever colors suits my mood that day with a strong belief that a day will come, when I make something with it. When I look at yarns in a shop with all the people around me, I cannot go to my imaginary world and then and there know what will come of it. There have been times when I have gone to a yarn shop with a project in mind, have got the special yarn and once back home, after trying it, have found out that it totally does not work at all. It is very frustrating, so for that stash is good. If I were to make a sweater, I would swatch from my stash yarn to see if there is anything that feels right and if there is some but not enough, then I might go and buy more of the same kind. After so many years of knitting, crocheting and weaving, I mostly know what I like and what works for me. My preferences have of course changed a lot during the years of making, and today I would not buy half the yarn I have in my stash. But when I pick up something that is not in the comfort zone today, it might spark something and might lure away from the known path and push the imagination towards a new area.

I know many who does not like to have stash and I get that, because I would love to have tidy closets and the lightness of not having all this stuff, but my creative mind would not thrive then, I think. Then on the other hand, I might be doing something totally different then, and that might not be a bad thing either. There is no knowing.  As much as I hate having all this stuff, I love it nonetheless.

Using the stash must be the key. Since I have it, I must make the best of it. If it is usable, I guess it is justified to have it. (Sigh… I am almost convinced now that having all this yarn is a good thing… It is… or what do you think?)

Wool with you,


  1. I think if it is organized in a way that sparks your creativity, it is a wonderful asset -- and you don't have to go to the store every time you have an idea!

  2. I think stash has great creative value. It is also a good thing to have in hard times, as a person can keep creating even when one could not afford something new. In any case I think having a completely uncluttered home is a bit boring...and how deep the stash goes is no one's business! I sure do not discuss or show off mine. :)

  3. Anonymous02:36

    I think you make astoundingly great use of your stash!
    And if it makes you feel great, then it is perfect.
    It is really not hurting anyone.

  4. I love the comparison of stash to colored pens and pencils - the tools of a fiber artist. A spic and span home with no clutter would not be a comfortable, happy place for me to live. I think every crafter gets to decide how and what to stash. You are so creative with new pieces and you have upcycled some older garments with your stash so you are using it. Like you, I so enjoy being able to go to a bin of yarn and imagine the possibilities.

  5. So beautiful! Everything you make is lovely. I am planning to do the Hygge CAL & I am being strict with myself to use only stash yarn. So exciting!!

  6. I love your posts and find every one of them inspirational. Going back a ways, I loved the time you recorded the hours and minutes of daylight as the seasons moved along. In regard to stash I regard it as beauty in a useful form. That said mine is more than a little out of hand. It went from being on a few shelves to taking up a walk in closet and now is close to taking over the whole room. I may be moving fairly soon so it is on my list to go through it all. I will have to give up and do it pretty soon as I have gone through and sorted the whole house including my bedroom and closet. I will have to choose the yarn room or the garage next. Not sure which will be the bigger challenge. Please keep your thoughtful posts and delightful projects coming.

  7. as long as my stash makes me happy, all is good. If I collect so much (or the wrong kind) that I feel stressed whenever I think about it, then it is time to clean and get rid of something. I often find that left overs makes the most beautiful projects, and they certainly spark my creativity!

  8. There are boxes of nails and screws in our barn. They are ready and waiting for the day they are needed. That being said, I feel confident that they will never be used up or that our barn will be void of these metal fasteners. My yarn stash feels necessary. It's ready and waiting for the moment that I need it's service. Stash can spark creativity in an instant. Stash screams possibilities. It moves and motivates me just by opening the cupboard and gazing upon it. I keep a hand written list of my yarn and the amount of each. I can honestly say that simply reading that list has inspired lovely projects. I keep the stash under reasonable control and I only by what I love. It makes me happy!

  9. Anonymous18:23

    This is such a good read. I have been through many seasons of emotion over my stash--sometimes the joy, sometimes the guilt, so I thank you for your thoughtful observations and for photographing and sharing your projects. They are so beautiful. Each one. Now, soon, I must go back to the yarn store to purchase the lovely ball of alpaca that I have picked up and put back on the shelf twice in the past month. It is the halo and the color that attracts me and makes me go back, but then I stand there and ask if I really NEED it. When that stern side of me reminds me of what I have already, I set it back on the shelf and off I go. My stash is not HUGE when compared with many, so now I have justified that lovely little ball of greenish-blue alpaca. Thanks for your help!

  10. Anonymous22:30

    A stash of yarn is like colored pencils or paints. You don't always know what you need when you start out, but if you have a little of each, you can find interesting things. I think the color it self is very stimulating for me for generating ideas (sometimes more than I can actually do) and that is very important. You may guess correctly that my house is in no way 'spick and span' tidy. Clean, yes, but things creep out of their assigned spots and every now and then have to be sent back to their places, but I would not have it any other way. Thank you for the post. Helen

  11. Anonymous23:54

    Besides seeing all the creative and beautiful things that get published on your blog, I think often I like your philosophical thoughts and the turnings of the seasons, the best. I enjoy seeing someone wade through this life and their stash, turnover and examine all the facets, and produce the jewels of our lives. Always simple. Always thoughtful. And always a joy to tie us all together, as though you have invited us to your doll tea party to play. Your blog is a wondrous delight. Renée

    1. Anonymous05:37

      Oh, yes, I agree! I check daily on your blog and am in utter delight when I find a new post. I love, love, love your posts of your environment, your knitting and other pondering and the perfect photos of your projects. I would wish to see a jotting from you every single day! That would make my day, but such pressure on you it would put. I am so happy to read your blog. Never stop!

  12. I love your lovely bunny knitting tea cup!

  13. the scarf is lovely! perhaps someday i will pick up crochet for more than trim. :)
    i also have a large stash. much of it from when i first got into knitting and just bought all the things! and some from family and friend's destashing. slowly over the last few years i have been going through it and trying to narrow down things i still like, making lists of yardage and weights so i can match it to new patterns (almost never works, but worth a shot). i also buy things that catch my eye at yarn shops, with or without projects in mind. i sometimes dream of being a no-stash knitter, but i think eventually my WIP pile would catch up to me. seems it is not in my nature to be so tidy and logical. besides, some of those stash yarns have been perfect for gifts over the years. even if i don't particularly like the shiny acrylic it is excellent for hats for folks who have no inclination to hand wash. and i am itching to try making toys like you so i can make tiny sweaters and socks with all my bits and bobs. :)