A New Kind Of Stash

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I have come to believe that, if you have a hobby, you have a stash. As a knitter, I have a stash of yarn. As a spinner, I have a stash of fiber. As a sewer, I have a stash of fabric. And we won’t even count the libraries of patterns and books that go with those hobbies! I have come to cherish my stashes. If I can’t purchase fiber, yarn or fabric for some time due to money issues or the inability to get to a store, I still have my stash to work from. I have invaded my stash numerous times and I can see a dent, but I always try to find good bargains or a good reason to rebuild it again. (Don’t ask my DH about my stash, though. He thinks I have way too much, but I don’t think there is such a thing as too big of a stash!)

I have been madly working on my Christmas knitting. I am so happy to say that I have completed at least 4 gifts as of today and I have 2 more on my needles in progress. And it was in finishing one of the gifts that I realized a need for a new type of stash: buttons!

As someone who sews a bit, you would think I would have buttons. But I rarely make buttonholes since my machine is cheap and buttonholes are not easy to make on it. As someone who knits sweaters, you would think I would have buttons. But I usually buy buttons specifically for the project, so I don’t have a sweater’s worth of buttons at all. But I think I have changed my mind now. I need to buy more buttons!

I am making a stuffed dog for my son. I have it all done, except the eyes. The pattern calls for either embroidering the eyes, sewing on felt circles or adding buttons. I am choosing buttons, because that is what I like the look of best. I ran to the store the other night and purchased buttons. However, they were the wrong size. So, I looked through my meager stash. Nothing. I plan to raid my mom’s stash this weekend, and if nothing there my grandmother has kindly offered her stash up to me to search. I will find the buttons for this dog, even if I have to buy more.

But the search for the perfect size and shape and color of button has triggered in me my stashing instinct! I have a new idea. There are hundreds of adorable, beautiful or just plain functional buttons at my local fabric store. And honestly, unless I am getting some really outrageous buttons, they are inexpensive (especially compared to yarn, fabric or fiber.) I think I will start building my stash, picking up one or two different types of buttons with each trip I make. For under $5, I can get a really cute set of buttons and a more utilitarian type.

Thankfully, buttons just don’t come from the store. I always save the extras that come with new clothes. But there is another option. Every time I get rid of a piece of clothing (I do donate most things, but some I choose to throw out because of excess wear or stains or whatever) I have learned to snip the buttons off first. It is a great way to add to the stash!

I plan to have fun collecting buttons now! It is an easy, fun way to satisfy the “stash cravings” without breaking the bank. Anyone else have a button stash?


The Scarf That Didn’t Want To Be

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I have been knitting for at least 5 years now. I have frogged stuff midstream because I didn’t like it. I have had mistakes I needed to correct. I have had items that have gone perfectly. But never have I ever had this many issues in knitting something!

In my effort to make as many Christmas gifts this year, I decided to knit my FIL a scarf. He came to visit last year on a cold day and had a scarf on (store-bought) so I knew he would wear one. I decided to do something with a herringbone pattern. I originally looked at Henry from Knitty.com. I bought the yarn for it (Knitpicks Gloss in Porcini) and printed out the pattern. Then I did a search on Ravelry and found that the idea of knitting it lengthwise was a bit daunting and took a ton of concentration. And I just can’t guarantee that I have the amount of concentration it requires. I decided to switch to another pattern. I found Red Herring from CogKnition and it was perfect! I printed out the copy and finally, last night, decided to cast on.

The pattern calls for using size 6 (US) needles, so I started with that. I knit the first 6 rows and realized something was wrong. Duh. I was using the wrong weight of yarn! I had fingering weight and it called for DK weight! Oops!

So, I cast on using smaller needles. Much better! I got through the first 6 rows (a moss stitch border) and started onto the pattern. It was fairly easy to follow and the 4 row repeat was easy to memorize. I got through the first repeat and thought I was on my way – until I realized I had 50 stitches. It called for 49 and, since it was a 7 row repeat, that extra one stitch was not a good thing. I frogged it again.

I reknit, this time double checking my numbers. Of course, it was 1 AM and I was exhausted, so I should have probably put it down, but I kept plodding along. Until I realized I had 4 stitches left and I needed 7 for the repeat. So I tinked back and figured out where I went wrong. Then did it again two rows later when I did the same thing.

I finally decided to walk away. I picked it up again this evening, thinking that I was finally awake enough to count properly. I got through 3 repeats of the pattern, but it didn’t look like it was forming a herringbone pattern. I just didn’t get it. So, I decided to look at Ravelry to see if I could find another herringbone pattern to see what was happening. I found at least 2 other methods of forming the herringbone pattern. And then I clicked on a link that took me to the Red Herring scarf pattern. And then I saw the note:

09/23/2008: I seem to have overridden the corrected version of the pattern by accident during an update. If you downloaded this pattern between 07/11/2008 and now, please download and use this version instead.

I couldn’t remember when I downloaded or printed the pattern so I decided to check it out. And sure enough, I must have had the wrong version. All of that knitting was incorrect. So, tonight, I frogged it – again!

Thankfully, fourth time seems to be the charm. Tonight’s knitting seemed to produce something that at least resembles herringbone pattern in the few inches I have finished. I will wait another inch or two to see if it really looks correct, though. It seems to be a fairly fast knit, even on fingering weight yarn, so hopefully the rest of it won’t be nearly as painless as getting this scarf started!

I never imagined a scarf of all things would give me so many problems!

Lace Knitting

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I have always looked at lace projects in admiration. I love the way they look- the openness of the stitches, the patterns, the intricacies. I decided, being a “fearless knitter” to try lace several years ago. My first project was easy enough – a scarf knit in bulky weight yarn. It had a lace pattern in the center, so it wasn’t overly involved and I could follow the written directions easily. (I had a fear of charts at the time.)

My next lace project was Branching Out. It seemed like everyone took that on as a first project. I learned all about lace knitting by reading up on it. I learned about lifelines and finally took on reading charts, although I admit that most of Branching Out was completed using the written directions. Branching Out took roughly 4 tries to get started and I used the lifeline numerous times.

Then, about a year ago, my stepfather passed away. For his memorial service, my mom borrowed a black silk wrap from my aunt. She mentioned wishing she had a black wrap for general use and I decided to knit one for her. At a fiber festival last year, I found a skein of Alpaca With A Twist Fino in black. I held on to the yarn, figuring I could make her the wrap for Christmas this year. And I started searching for the right pattern. It took me a long time to find the pattern I wanted and I finally settled on the Shetland Triangle. It was a beautiful pattern, about the size I wanted, and lots of people had recommended it as a first lace project. I boned up on reading charts (I had actually been getting lots of practice with some of the cable projects I was knitting) and then it sat for a long time, unstarted. I think I was totally intimidated. I finally realized that Christmas was approaching and I needed to get started if I planned to get it done by Christmas. I had no clue how long it would take me and I was really afraid it would be the only thing I would get done for Christmas.

I finally started. I was so pleased to realize that it was simple! I didn’t need lifelines! It went rather fast. I only knit in the evenings after everyone is in bed and there are days where no knitting gets done at all, and I had it done in just under a month’s time, while also working on numerous other projects. I love the end result and can’t wait to work on more lace. The pattern that emerged was amazing and I am always in awe over the magic of blocking lace. It grew and stopped puckering and, in general, became a beautiful, wearable piece.

The finished Shetland Triangle

The finished Shetland Triangle

But this project taught me one thing… I hate working with laceweight yarn! I find it to be annoying and it seems to tangle rather easily. I have the beginnings of arthritis in my hand and grasping that thin yarn is really hard on my fingers. I wish for more substantial stitches and a heavier end project, especially if knitting for myself.

So, I made a decision. I will continue to knit lace. But I will stay away from lace weight. Instead, I will knit with nothing lighter than fingering weight, and even possibly heavier. I want so badly to knit Ene’s Scarf, but will only consider doing it in a heavier weight yarn.

I am glad I have come to this conclusion, rather than suffering through more lace weight knitting. Instead, I can knit with yarn I enjoy knitting with, and I can knit a pattern I really like with a fabric that I like, too.

That Shetland Triangle? I do love it. I love looking at the pictures of it and realizing that I made that! But I doubt there will be a repeat anytime soon.