Sunday, November 30, 2008

Step 7 + Exciting stuff

Step 7 is to knit stuff for a long time until you use up all the yarn that is assigned to a project. You could've figured that out on your own.


More importantly, look!!!



My drum carder came! It was a Christmas present from my parents (and yes, it came already and yes I'm already playing with it. Blame Santa for dropping it off early. And by Santa, I mean the mailman who looks like he could be Santa, if Santa were a salty sea dog.)

Anyway... that's my first batt. I know it's a tad ugly, but the instructions said to run some scraps through first in case there's extra dust of some sort on it that will discolor your nice fiber. It's a nicer color in person, though.



One more:



I've already stabbed myself several times with the lickerin. It's awesome.




And two miscellaneous foodstuffs:


Pumpkin trifle from Thanksgiving


Tiniest clementine ever!

I swear I'm going to start taking better pictures of stuff. It's just hard when the sun goes down at 4 pm after spending all day behind rain clouds. Every day. Sigh. Oh Portland. (On the bright side it's almost December and it's like 53 degrees, so...)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pictures of things!



Thanksgiving









My new coat! I've been looking for a cheap, nice wool peacoat for a long time and finally found one at Buffalo Exchange downtown, so I'm pumped. It obviously does not fit Delores very well...I fear she is a bit chunkier than I am, making her pretty useless for actual dress form purposes, but really I just wanted to hang scarves on her anyway, sooo...





My friend Aaron is staying with us (that's him on the right in the Thanksgiving picture.) This is my dog helping himself to Aaron's sleeping bag and pillow. He'll actually sleep with his head on the pillow and a blanket over him. It's awesome.


I am thisclose to being done with Christmas knitting (and on to Christmas blocking). Early, yeah, but the next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy so it's just as well. I've learned that I really, really like buying/making/finding presents. Unfortunately sheer enthusiasm does not help me come up with things to give my freakin' boyfriend, on whom's birthday next Friday I may or may not have used up all my good present ideas. Sigh.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Step 6: Shop your Stash

Pretty straightforward- match up projects you want to do with the yarn you have. Pair up everything you possibly can. You'll probably have leftover projects, and a pile of yarn that doesn't quite fit anywhere in your goals, and that's fine. Just set all those aside. Assign a purpose to as much yarn as possible and write it down somewhere safe (if you've stashed it all on Ravelry, just put it in the notes). Now hopefully you'll be all excited about starting new projects that you ACTUALLY HAVE THE YARN FOR RIGHT THERE OMG!



(Maybe some pictures coming later. I am in a food semi-coma, so we'll see.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Step 5: Make a List

If you have Ravelry and an updated queue, that's perfect. Otherwise, comb through your books, your magazines, online patterns, your sketchbooks...whatever. Make a big list and aim for variety. Sort it if it makes you feel better. Consider gifts you want to make. And so on and so forth.

This is pretty straightforward but may take a while. In my case, I have my Ravelry queue plus a huge number of sketchbooks/loose pieces of paper with ideas on them/etc.


(Also, for Christmas, may I suggest Buying Handmade?)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Step 4: Kill your Babies

This one is less fun. It is time to be brutal.

Go through your stash (which is, hopefully, still on your floor, but otherwise photographs or lists will work) and pull out anything you don't think you'll use and put it in a pile.

- Acrylic from your pre-fiber-snob days? Pile.
- Gifted yarn that's just not your color? Pile.
- Sock weight when you just don't ever really use sock weight? Pile (this one is me. Sigh. I will keep a teensy bit though, for toys and gloves.)

You get the picture.

Now, go through it AGAIN, just in case. Keep knitting friends in mind. Would they enjoy a particular skein more than you? Do they have a birthday coming up? Something to consider.


Next, divide your pile into three categories: Sell, Gift, and Donate. Nice stuff that's in good condition and will fetch a decent price, put into sell. If you can think of a recipient who would enjoy a particular skein, put it in the gift pile (make sure they're not trying to cut back themselves, though.) Anything else goes into donate.

Sell the stuff you've got in a destash sale, either on Ravelry, ebay, etsy, or a physical garage-sale type deal if you've got enough. You're probably not going to get full price for it, but if it's in great condition, you might make back a decent percentage.

Wrap the gift yarn up all pretty and send it on it's way.

Find somewhere to donate the rest of it. Many schools and after-school programs will take it, as well as other creative programs for kids. There are also groups of charity knitters that you might be able to find online who will happily take it. Some LYS's (Abundant Yarn in Portland, for example) have a charity bin where you can donate unloved yarn for someone else to use for charitable purposes. If all else fails, put it up for free on craigslist and make somebody's day.

I cannot stress enough the need to be ruthless, especially if your stash is huge. I know you've paid good money for it, and you'll probably take a loss, but just consider it the price you pay for sanity. Try to only keep as much as you think you can knit in a year, or less if possible.


This is also a great time to frog all those projects you are probably never going to finish. If you haven't touched it in months, let it go, and sort the yarn along with the rest.


As for me, I pulled out all my donate yarn not too long ago (there's a big bag of acrylic lost somewhere in my parents' house, I think, heh..) but I have a neat little stack of stuff that I'll either trade or giveaway in some sort of blog contest...so stay tuned :-)

Step 3. Take Stock

This part is fun.

1. Vacuum your floor and lock dogs and children in the other room.
2. Get out your stash and dump it.
3. Roll around a little just to get it out of your system.
4. Put all the balls of the same type of yarn together so you know how much you have of each.
5. Consider sorting them by weight so you can see, for example, how much sock yarn you have, or how much laceweight, and so forth.
6. Anything that you have less than a ball of, put in a separate container or bag where it will be safe. You'll deal with these leftover yarns later (though feel free to dip in for trims and embellishments throughout.)
7. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and photograph the stash and put it on Ravelry. Or make a list. You don't really have to do these things, but they will definitely help if you don't feel like leaving your stash out on the floor during the next few steps. Doing it all at once certainly has it's advantages, though.


I felt bad for the dog and was too lazy to vacuum so I put mine on the table. Heh...

I have this:


Plus this blurry wad of overflow here:


And this huge amount of "OMG IT'S ON SALE" ambrosia from knitpicks:



Oh my.


(and in case you're wondering, this is what's in the background:



I bought a kit for $1.50 at a thrift store and then just sorta went my own way with it. I like him! )

Step 2: Eliminate Temptation

This is when it's going to get hard. The reason most attempts at "cutting back" seem to fail is that we present ourselves with opportunities to buy more yarn. Therefore, some rules are in order.


Though this should be obvious, the number one rule is this:
NO MORE BUYING YARN. NO NO NO NO. NO MORE. NO MATTER WHERE YOU FIND IT OR HOW MUCH IT'S ON SALE, EVEN IF IT'S SOCK YARN. I am not making any wimpy-ass allowances for you*, this is the big league now, and you are a grown up, dammit, and you're going to play hardball.

(And if you are not a grown up, please don't read this blog, it uses many no-no words.)

and to that effect....

2. Absolutely, positively, NO going into a yarn store unsupervised! In fact, try to avoid going in at all. I like to sit and knit in my LYS's coffee shop and enjoy a delicious tea latte, but I can always do so with my boyfriend (who also knits, now) in tow, since he will scold me violently if I do anything stupid (though my will power isn't really THAT bad anyway.) Likewise, if you meet up with a knitting group at a shop, tell them all not to let you buy yarn. Tell them firmly. Say "If I buy yarn, please rain down your harshest criticisms upon me". If you absolutely can't resist, leave your credit cards at home. Not in the car, AT HOME. You could walk to the car and we can't risk that. You can have $2 cash for coffee or tea, and just really hope you don't need money for anything else while you're out.

3. Likewise, fiber festivals are a HUGE no-no. I know they are a lot of fun and believe me, when I had to skip OFFF this year, I was pretty sad about it. But the great thing is that they come back again every year! And maybe, by this time next year, you'll be allowed to buy yarn again. Maybe. If you work really hard.
If, for some reason, you absolutely NEED fiber (as opposed to yarn), perhaps you can go with strict supervision...but why would you need fiber except to make more yarn out of? So you don't need it. I promise. Unless you're a wet-felter, or something. Or a vendor. But still, bring a hard-ass friend who will keep you in your place.

4. Yarn websites? Nope. Use the parental controls to block them if you have to. Go so far as to put a password on knitpicks and WEBS. Take any destashing boards off of your Ravelry forum page so you don't see them (though you can still use them to get rid of your own yarn, obviously). Whatever your weakness, make it as difficult as possible to access.

5. Instruct your spouse or family to dispose IMMEDIATELY of any sort of paper correspondence coming from such companies. And you are only allowed to read knitting magazines if you can succesfully ignore the ads. If you ask nicely, maybe a friend will scribble all over the ads with sharpie for you.

Feeling the burn yet? You will. You may need to change the route you use to drive home or find somewhere else to kill time on your lunch break. Sorry, but them's the apples.




*Ok, I am granting one single exception, and it is this:

IF you are making a gift, AND it is for a special occasion (birthday, Christmas, Hannukah, a birth, a wedding, etc... no minor holidays, no made up holidays, no sad excuses to purchase yarn) AND the giftee has requested an object of a particular character (color, or fiber, etc.) that you don't currently have available in your stash, you may purchase only what you need and no more. If they haven't requested anything and you can possibly manage to, please use your stash. If you don't, you are cheating, and cheaters never win, especially in the game of stash elimination. DO YOU HEAR ME SOLDIER?

Also if you start knitting a large project and find that you need one more ball to finish the last 6 inches of the second sleeve, you can go get one more ball. But you have to at least THINK you have enough to start off with... no fair starting a project if you know you'll need more. If you need more than one ball, too bad. Frog it and make something else. You should've thought of that before you cast on. Brutal, yes, but self-discipline should sting a little. And maybe tingle.





How to deal with gifts
If, during any portion of this stash elimination exercise, you should receive an unsolicited gift of yarn, you may accept it to avoid being a jerk. But you must immediately deal with it in the same way you deal with the rest of your stash, by going back to steps 3, 4, 5, and 6. Obviously, you should not ASK for yarn as a gift, and if someone simply OFFERS you the yarn, don't take it unless it's cashmere in your favorite color.

Step 1: Admit Your Problem

The first thing you have to do before conquering your stash is decide that you actually WANT to conquer your stash. If you're only trying to cut down because your husband is whiny or because your mother nags you every time she comes to visit, that's not going to cut it. You have to WANT it. You have to TASTE it.

Personally, I don't really think a stash is a problem, as long as (1) you can afford it, (2) you have space for it, (3) it isn't more than you can realistically knit up (in which case you might as well use that money for a good cause or something.) But there are definitely benefits to cutting down.

So first, figure out what you're trying to accomplish.
I've got approximately one CD tower + two cedar chests of yarn (one of which is at my parent's house across the country and which I guess will be ignored for the purpose of this destash... I'll have to do it all over again with that batch later,) plus a spacebag full of unspun fiber. I'm not worried about the fiber, it seems like a pretty reasonable amount. It would be nice, however, if my whole yarn stash could fit in that CD tower, all pretty and on display. I could certainly use the extra storage in that chest, since I live in a tiny apartment with a LOT of craft supplies and clothes. Decluttering is a big motivator for me at the moment.

There is also a certain freedom to having very little yarn on hand. It frees you up to start any project you want, without feeling guilty about going out to buy EVEN MORE yarn just because you didn't have the perfect thing in your stash.

You'll have to identify your own reasons. Write them down and stick them somewhere where you'll see them frequently, if you need to.

This is the easy part. Tomorrow, we talk about the rules. Get ready.

Quit whining and bust your stash already

I hear (ok, well, read, since most of my knitting-related-interaction is online) knitters whine all the time about how they have too much yarn, it's taking up too much space, they spend too much money, but they just "can't help" buying more, blah de blah de blah blah. And I call shenanigans. That's like saying "I know I weight 1000 pounds but I just can't stop eating HoHo's for all three meals." Yes you can. You have to actually WANT to, but you can.

And Miss Alex is going to show you the way.

The 12 Step Yarn Elimination Game

1. Admit Your Problem
2. Eliminate Temptation
3. Stock
4. Kill Your Babies
5. Queue'n
6. Shop your Stash
7. Knitting Fever
8. Re-evaluation
9. Scrap'n
10. Stripe'n
11. End bits
12. GO BUY MORE YARN WOOO!


Stay tuned for elaboration ;-) You can do it, I believe in you. Time to cowboy up and tackle that ever-growing mountain of personal weakness made manifest. You WILL make the stash your bitch.

(And I'll do it too.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

EDI Cowl

(EDI for "Everyone's Doing It", of course)




I've been seeing cowls like this on etsy for a while now, and they look cozy and kind of neat... so I made one (though I opted for kettle dyed merino instead of what appears to be Lion Brand Thick & Quick...but like I've said, I'm a snob). Versatile, too. And since I haven't seen a pattern for these yet, I thought I'd toss one out, even though it's pretty darn amazingly crazy easy :-)







You need:

-2 skeins of Malabrigo Chunky Merino (or another bulky yarn, but I recommend shelling for the Malabrigo. Sooo worth it)
-Size 15 needles, either straights or circs to work back and forth on
-Waste yarn for a provisional cast on, if you want to do one. (I am not going to go over provisional cast ons here. Google it, you'll find plenty of stuff. But if you want, you can also do a normal cast on, and then bind off at the end and seam the darn thing.)

Gauge is...not really a big deal.

Provisionally cast on on 46 stitches (or however many you need to get about 17 inches... more or less, if you want.)

Work in garter stitch until the thing is long enough to stretch around your shoulders, but not much longer.

Put the cast on row on another needle (doesn't have to be another 15 if you don't have it, but you can really just use the other needle you've been working with, or the other end of your circ) and graft the last row to the first row using kitchener stitch (again, if you don't know how to do kitchener, just run it through Google. There are videos a plenty to help :-) )

Et voila! The easiest darn thing ever, but it's cute and oh-so-cuddly. I was planning on selling it but I'm pretty sure I can't part with it, so oh well. Heh.



Ravel It!


Also, here's a squirrel with an apple in it's mouth! Yay fall!!





(the fine print: Your use of this pattern constitutes your agreement to use this pattern only for personal, non-profit use without specific written permission from the designer (just email me!) Items made from this pattern may not be sold without permission, nor may the pattern itself be copied, sold, or distributed in any way. You may print one copy for personal use. Please do not reproduce the text of this document on other sites- just post a link :-) Thanks guys!)

If you need to contact me with questions, my email address is presentsknits@gmail.com - please email instead of commenting since it's much easier for me to reply that way! Thanks!

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