Yarn diet? Yeah, right.

Two skeins of lovely yarn from last year's giveaway.
Two innocent looking skeins of yarn

All of you knitters and crocheters out there know how the story goes.  You’re young, you’re in love with this new crafting thing and you just can’t stop yourself.  You have to have yarn in order to knit (or crochet).  You buy a skein.  Then, you use up that skein but your project isn’t finished yet.  Who knew that anything could use up more than a skein of yarn??  You go back to the craft store to buy more yarn.  While you’re there, you see another color that you really, really like, so you add it on to your purchase with no idea what you’re going to do with it, but it’s just so PERFECT and so gorgeous that you know you will make something completely amazing with it.

You start scanning the internet for the perfect project for that yummy skein that you just bought, but everything that you really want to make requires two skeins – or more!  But you only bought one.  Now, what?

Pretty yarn
Yarn for a project – plus a little because it was pretty.

That’s right.  Back to the craft store.  But, you know, it’s a fun place to browse around in, so it’s not so bad.

Before you know it, you have amassed a basket full of wool in the living room, a storage tub full of acrylic blends in the closet, a wheeled storage box full of fingering weight under the bed, a stack of tubs full of yarn in the corner and you’re using another one as a nightstand.  Your family all know that they will receive something made with yarn for birthdays and definitely for Christmas and you can be commonly identified as “the one over there in the handknit shawl/hat/scarf/sweater.”  You justify all of this yarn with the knowledge that you can always create a gift for someone out of your yarn stash at any time.  You will never be without a project to work on.  Boredom no longer exists.

Tell me, am I the only one?

So, you decide to slow down on the yarn.  Use up some of your precious hoard before you buy more.  We call this a “yarn diet” and it works about as well as a calorie-counting diet does, especially when the holidays roll around and you start planning out your gift projects.  You paw excitedly through your bins and boxes of yarn looking for the right yarn for every project.  You find a skein or two, but either the colors you have aren’t quite right or the color is perfect but it’s too chunky or too fine (gift projects need to work up quickly, after all, if you’re going to get them all done), or the yarn you want to use isn’t machine washable (all gift knits should be machine washable), or whatever.  SO, you get online and order yarn for all of your holiday projects.  This is most of your Christmas shopping, so you’re really saving money, right?  DIY is the way to go.

Flip-top fingerless gloves
I made SO MANY of these! Christmas 2015.

So, you start making things.  You use a lot of the yarn that you bought for the holiday gift projects, but there’s always some left over to feed the stash some more.  But hey, there are birthday presents to make, too!  And every once in a while you have to make something for yourself.  You’ll get to it.Yarn diet? Yeah, right. Blog post graphic.

And then, you decide to make a rule for yourself.  You must finish one project before you can buy yarn for a new project.  I don’t know about you, but that resolution doesn’t usually last long for me.  I am not a monogamous knitter.  My creative brain comes up with ideas for new projects faster than I can knit them up.  I actually have a Trello board set up to keep track of my new ideas and which stages my projects are in.  Now, if I could just get my workspace that organized, I would be unstoppable! [cue evil laugh]

Sorry, I’m getting a little off track.  I might have had enough caffeine today.  Back to the subject.

After a while, though, (there is no set amount of time, as individual results may vary) you find that your stash has grown beyond your ability to work up within your lifetime.  It’s a horrifying thought, but the truth is that it’s time to push some of your babies out into the wide world.

Now, the way I see it, there are four different approaches to this dilemma.

 Method number one: charity projects.

Susan Finch of www.binkypatrol.org
Susan Finch, founder of Binky Patrol

Now, charity projects are fabulous, and definitely a worthy use of your time and your yarn (check out http://www.knotsoflove.org/nicu-blanket-patterns, http://www.binkypatrol.org and http://www.warmupamerica.org/, for example) and they do have the potential to use up a lot of your stash, but when you have amassed more than you can work up within your lifetime, the problem still remains.

Method number two: gift some of your yarn to a friend.

I have done this, but in very limited amounts.  I once gifted some of my precious handspun (by me) yarn to a very good friend as a Christmas gift because I knew that she would properly appreciate it.  And I still, technically, “made” it for her, since it was my handspun.

Method number three: donate to a thrift store.

I actually did this last Summer.  I took every storage tub full of yarn that I had, opened them up and looked at every single skein/ball/cake of yarn in each box and asked myself if I would really enjoy working with it in any way.  I know that’s a pretty broad question, but it was my first time.  I found that about 1/3 of my stash was actually yarn that I didn’t like the feel of or didn’t even want to look at.  Wow!  Into the donate box it went!  And then into the back of my car and then directly to the thrift store before I could change my mind.

Eureka!!!

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It was really nice, actually.  I now know that I can go to my yarn stash at any time and I will only find lovely yarn that I know I really want to work with.  My stash is so much more inspirational, now.  Which can actually cause me to spend a lot of time dreaming up more projects, if I’m not careful.  With great creativity comes great responsibility, I guess.  I mean, the kids need me to cook dinner.  I can’t just dream about my yarn all day.

Method number four (which realistically isn’t an option when we’re talking about something with as much crafting potential as yarn): throw it away.

Yup.  Into the landfill.  I know, it’s not really an option for me, either, but I just thought I’d throw it out there (ha ha) in the interest of being thorough.

If you can’t bear to take any of these approaches to your excess yarn, you can always continue to hoard it and let your children and grandchildren deal with it someday after you’re gone.  I actually loved using the yarn, crochet hooks and knitting needles that I inherited from my husband’s grandmother, but she really didn’t have that much yarn stored up.  And every time I use one of her crochet hooks, I think of her, which makes me smile.  I sincerely hope that there is someone else in your life who will love what you leave behind (someday) in your stash, too.  And I hope that you will stay creative, in one form or another, until the end of your days.

Craft on, friends.

It’s a Woolly Life: what’s happening

I’m going to be tote-woolly (bad pun) honest.  I started writing this blog post yesterday and then realized that I was just rambling about pretty much nothing, so I decided to delete it and start over again, because, you know, I could go on and on about all of the things going on, but it would take me until next week to list them all for you and I just don’t have the time for that.   I have a rehearsal dinner to plan (because my son is getting married next weekend).  Sorry.  I know you were looking forward to that list, but I really wouldn’t want you nodding off in front of your computer or your smartphone.  If you happen to be in the company of other humans, that might be a little embarrassing.

It's a woolly life: what's happening

Anyway, since this is supposed to be a blog about woolly things, there have been a few recent happenings in the woollier part of my world that I can share.  I had a design proposal rejected.  I have not given up on it, though.  I am keeping it around and planning on refining it some more.  It might work with just a color change.

I also finished a shawl pattern and got the photos done.  Yay!  As soon as it goes live, I will shout it to the world.  You can count on me.

Close up view of Sedimentary Shawl pattern by Wendelika Cline
Poor quality photo taken on my phone because I forgot to charge the battery for my Nikon camera.

And I have another pattern finished that just needs the photos.  There is actually a little sunshine happening out there today, so I just might see if I can talk my 17-year-old into modeling for me.  She was pretty good-natured about working with me on my last photo shoot, and I do believe the battery for my camera is actually charged right now, so that’s a bonus.  It’s easier to get photos done, that way.  Ask me how I know.

Something pretty is in the works!

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I am also working on a new project, of course.  It’s so new, in fact, that I don’t even have an Instagram pic to show you yet.  I started playing around with a 2-color linen stitch and I’m really liking it.  I’m actually “swatching” in the size and shape of a cowl, so that I can write up the pattern if it turns out to be super fabulous and then, I won’t have to work it up again.  I sometimes cheat like that.

I’m actually pretty excited about this one.  The best designs are the ones that capture your imagination and just won’t let you go.  My Gypsy Caravan Shawl was one of those.  I didn’t realize how much this one had gotten hold of me until I was at my acupuncture appointment this morning and I was lying there (supposedly relaxing) thinking about some really cool things that I could do with it.  I came up with three different ideas!  Thought about them all the way home and decided which one I like best, so my plans for this evening will definitely include a little bit of woolly experimentation.  I have never seen anything like this before (not to say that it has never been done), so I am really excited to see how it will turn out.  Wish me luck – or better yet, skill.