Stashdown Part 1 – The Stash

So you want to be a stashdown superstar? Over the next few posts I’ll lead you through some of the approaches I take to reduce my stash. Getting to grips with your stash is usually the first step and that is the focus of this post. In later posts I’ll talk about how to make a Stashdown plan tailored to your needs, how to implement it and how to keep track of your progress.

Check out your stash – do you really want it to be smaller? Does it no longer fit in the box(es) it’s supposed to? Does it fall on your head when you open the wardrobe? Is it hidden in every nook and cranny of your home so your partner/parents/flatmate won’t realise how much yarn you have? Does it keep you awake at night with guilty thoughts or put pressure on you to be knitting or crocheting? Are there skeins of yarn that have lived with you longer than your partner? Whatever the reason it’s time to look it in the eye and get a handle on it.

Get a measure on it – Grams, Metres, Litres, Ziploc bags, whatever works for you. I like to measure my stash in metres because that gives the best indication of how long it will take me to knit it. If however your stash is taking up too much space then grams would be a better measure (litres are tricky!) One way to measure your yarn is to add it into Ravelry. This can take quite a long time but I think it’s worth it. Once the yarn is in the system simply click the little green ‘X’ button in the tabs on your stash page, it’s usually beside the ‘search’ button. This allows you to download an Excel spreadsheet of your stash. From there it’s not too difficult to add up the metres column, if you have any trouble please comment below or contact me on twitter.

When adding yarn to Ravelry I suggest adding a rough date or year to the entry if you can remember :) I really like to add pictures to my stash pages, even a phone pic or a picture from the manufacturers website. This is invaluable when trying to match patterns to stash, when queuing patterns or planning yarn purchases. If you have Ravelry on your phone/tablet it can stop you from buying yarn identical to what you already have. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this! Also it means you can browse your stash for ideas wherever you are. Or simply admire your favourite skeins on your lunch break. You can even put your fibre stash on Ravelry too if you spin.

Organise your stash – If you’ve spent the day uploading your stash then you are probably surrounded by yarn. This is the perfect opportunity to organise your stash in a way that will help you use it. Everybody has their own way to do this, for ideas read the blogposts by Stew, Crafty Tails, the Fringe Assocation and I. I like to sort mine by yarn weight(lace, sock, 4ply, dk, aran & bulky). I have a box under the bed with lace, sock and 4ply in ziploc bags. Then two baskets in the wardrobe: one holds DK, aran and bulky and the other has all of my odds and ends, in bags together by weight, along with various tools. Any jumpers-worth are in a bag of their own in the press.

This is also the perfect time to assess your stash. Is it mostly jumper quantities or mostly odd balls? Do you have lots of sock yarn but rarely knit socks? Or, like me, do you have lots of laceweight but keep buying DK weight to make baby knits? Is it all the one colour? Is it all in your favourite colours, meaning you never have the right colour to knit a present for a friend with different tastes? What fibres dominate, is there too much cotton or not enough washable yarn? Looking at what you have, what you need, what you buy and what you knit will help you to shop smarter. Next time a special skein seduces you or the local yarn store has a sale, you will be better equipped to choose something that fits your yarny needs. You’ll be a savy shopper looking to enhance your stash with the right colour, fibre, weight and quantity of yarn.

Figure out how long it will take you to use up your stash, to check if you have reached SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.) Just tot up what you used the previous year on Ravelry. This is easier to do after a year of tracking or participating in stashdown. For example last year I knit/crocheted about 11km and I have 28km in stash so it could last me 3 years if I never buy another skein! Fingers crossed I can increase my knit rate this year.

How do you deal with your stash? Are you part of Stashdown or otherwise on a yarn diet?

Knitlethetic Training

It’s just over two weeks until the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games Ravellenic Winter Games 2014! After a rough start the group is up and running, the teams are forming and the events list has been posted.

This year I’ll be running with the Stashdown Ireland crowd, hoping some of their collective restraint when it comes to knitting rubs off on me. I already pretty much knew what I would be doing for this year’s games project, even before they posted the events. My last games I attempted to complete that giant wedding shawl, and lets just say I didn’t quite meet the closing ceremony deadline. I also knit a wee shawl from my handspun stash which I did manage to complete. This year, I’ve chosen a less ambitious project. Famous last words!

I’m planning on knitting this jumper from Drops, using the left over yarn from my vest. I bought 20 balls of the Rowan organic wool DK three years ago, just after I moved to Edinburgh. It’s since been discontinued, and I suspect that I nabbed some of the very end of it. But it’s lovely to work with, nice and round and springy. It worked really well on the cables, and I’m hoping it will cope just as well with the textured lace of this jumper.

Now since I can’t actually cast on until the opening ceremony, I have actually been motivated to swatch for once. I knit this up over the weekend, with a section for checking my stitch and row gauge, and with a wee trial of the yoke pattern. I really like the pattern, and it’s quite similar to part of Damask, so it’s familiar territory. Simple enough so far, right? No problem. The tricky part, however, will come from the adjustments I make to the pattern as written.

Here’s my adjustments wish list, which I will be theorising on and testing between now and the starting whistle.

  1. Making it shorter. It seems to hit the model a bit lower than I would like for my shape, and on top of that I’m a shortie in the body already.
  2. Make my own waist shaping to fit my own curves, rather than where Garnstudio thinks my curves are. (No disrespect to the lovely peeps at Garnstudio, I’m just not the same as their Ms Average, and that’s ok.)
  3. Shorten the sleeves to elbow or 3/4 length, similar to my Owls.
  4. Reduce the ease from the positive ease shown in the picture to something a bit snugger. I might not go full on negative ease, but a closer fit.
  5. Putting in darts to accommodate my roundy tummy.
  6. Put a panel up the sides with part of the yoke pattern, to break up the monotony.

First, of course, I have to get my current measurements, which will involve recruiting my lovely hubby. I’ll also be going through my copy of Knit to Flatter, and a few other resources, and taking a second look at the owls pattern for a bit of inspiration. The jumper, should I complete it in time, will be part of the following events:

  • Sweaterboard cross (self explanatory)
  • Lace longjump
  • Stash skeleton (because I’ve had the yarn for over 6 months. Well over six months)

See, Stashdown Ireland have me downing my stash already! See you at the start line!

Start as I mean to go on!

Well it seems it is the season for KALs and CALs! There’s the Irish Yarn Club, with patterns by Carol Feller and yarns by Irish dyers. Then there’s the very popular Follow your Arrow Mystery KAL with Ysolda Teague. As if that wasn’t enough AoibheNi is hosting a something-for-yourself CAL with the Freya pattern. I don’t think I have the right yarn in stash for any of these so I will be plugging away trying to match patterns to the yarns I have. So far this year I’ve finished a Citron and a Jewelled Cowl from a Zauberball Lace Ball. The Citron was cast on just before new years while waiting for a puncture to be repaired. I got some strange looks in the car garage but it kept me busy. It was perfect knitting for the Christmas season, easy enough to knit while being sociable. Exactly what I needed. The Jewel Cowl is based on a very-modified version, knit flat on the bias and then grafted together at the end. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough yarn for it to fit over the head but it’s actually a perfect size. Unfortunately I got to the end (i.e. ran out of yarn) during knit night. Grafting is not a very sociable act but I was desperate! The beads are size 8, all 500+ of them added individually with a 0.6mm crochet hook.

I’ve done very little knitting this week as I’ve been working on a Cross Stitch Sampler for my niece. I’d like to have it ready for Saturday so that’s stealing all my time. Also I’ve been trying to spin more (part of my resolutions). To encourage me in this endeavour I bought some of the very first batch of fibre from our own lovely Dublin Dye Company. I was seduced by a sample before Christmas and had to have some as soon as it was available, and isn’t it beautiful!


And a Happy New Year!

Well, so far 2014 has been off to a decent start, if you don’t count the weather. Our tiny plane just about managed to take off in Dublin last week, but it was a very bumpy ride!

I got some lovely knitting related gifts for Christmas. The lovely hubby (our first married Christmas!) bought me Finishing School which has been a really good read so far. I’ve really enjoyed her perspective on blocking, which takes a less-is-more approach. He also got me a tripod for my camera which will help with project photos. My sister bought me a knitting themed mug, and of course I got some yarn, including the lovely NZ yarn from you.

The real treat, though, was the Box of Joy. I really don’t need more needles, but they’re so very pretty! And the box is lovely, a really nice addition to my knitting shelves!

I’m following your lead and planning on knitting a sock a month. Luckily, I cast on the second sock of my current WIP in the wee small hours of New Year’s Day, so I’ve already managed to complete that goal for January. And I cast off a cowl last night too, so two FOs so far this year. I’ve also been doing some spinning.

I think 2014 is going to be a pretty awesome year, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us!

Cathy’s Crafty Year 2013

I thought I would share a little round-up of my accomplishments from 2013 and ambitions for 2014. Despite spending most of 2013 finishing my PhD, and then travelling for 2 months, I still managed to complete 51 projects. Most of these are baby knits for my beautiful new niece and all the other new babies this year: 11 baby hats, 9 baby garments and  2 pairs of booties. Next came accessories including 5 hats, 3 cowls and 2 pairs of mitts. I had planned to knit a sock a month for 2013 but only managed 7 socks in total. So my poor husband got no Christmas socks this year, not even the half-knit ones he got last year! Better luck next year.  Overall I knit or crocheted over 11km of yarn in 2013, but I replenished my stash by an equal amount.

I knit 5 shawls this year - Two navy Ishbels for Stew’s wedding, an Ishbel and a Holden for my mum and a Swallowtail for me! The Swallowtail was my first time doing Nupps and I hope to try another nupp-ed shawl in 2014. I also made Venus for stripeycat which was my first Tunisian Lace Crochet. Another one of my 2013 plans completed. I knit 2 garments – a Folded and a modified New Wave cardigan – after polling this blog for ideas! I finally knit a blanket this year too – which has always been a long-term-goal. I knit the Undercover pattern and I’m happy with how it turned out, though it was a present that I’ve not seen in use. Finally I knit some ornaments, cosies and flowers including some of the flowers for Stew’s bouquet.

I’m pleased I held to my ambition to learn Tunisian Lace Crochet with the Venus shawl and to finally crochet a snowflake! In the year ahead I intend to crochet Freya to learn Cnupps and also crochet another project or two. In terms of knitting skills I’d like to try more colourwork this year. I have a Kate Davies pattern (or three!) in mind I just need to find the right yarn in stash. If the timing works out it might be nice to try my hand at test knitting and maybe even designing a few things. Or just writing up my original knits as patterns.

I plan to knit an average of 1 sock a month this year, maybe this year I will achieve it! I’m going to plan them out with patterns, stash and recipients. Knitting from stash will be a big focus this year. I started well in 2013, every month using more yarn than I acquired, but fell of the horse in the autumn. This year I will need to knit or crochet a lot more lace if I intend to use my stash. Thankfully I have lots of lace patterns in my queue, already matched with stashed yarn. Unfortunately that means no projects that require sport yarn or heavier. With the exception of one or two special baby knits :) I have two garment- quantities of yarn ready to go once I decide on the pattern so that will be good.

I did very little spinning in 2013, mostly at the start of the year. My Fibre Stash is down to the boring or difficult to spin bits but I aim to spin more consistently in the coming months. I have one or two nice pieces (Silk brick and camel) that I’ve decided I will spin, despite my fear of spinners remorse.

So with those lofty aims I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Here’s to a 2014 filled with crafting, learning new skills and being happy and appreciated