Sunday, October 26, 2008


My studio is a complete mess--I'm surprised that I can find my work table, much less sit at it to write a blog. All this mess was created by the guild's annual swap meet, fondly referred to as the "Stash Reallocation Sale."

I'm committed to some serious stash-busting. The stash is just too darned large, and if I can make it smaller, either by selling, trading away, or using up the fibers, I have an excuse (As if I needed one!) to buy a bunch of new fibers. The stash is also a bit ridiculous--I have yarns that I got when I bought my floor loom--in 1995--that the loom's previous owner got when she bought the loom. All of these have been carefully stored for years decades, but I had to ask myself: When am I ever going to use up 14 skeins of pink and white bulky mohair boucle? I don't like pink, I don't like mohair, and I don't like boucle. The stuff needs to go.

Saturday was spent going through the boxes in the stash and deciding if I should keep it or let it go. A couple things started off in one pile and wandered back to the other: the half-pound of llama stayed to be blended with some cotted merino roving of a similar color; the black-and-white two-strand mohair stayed because it's really weird; the cut but unchained chenille warp stayed because I couldn't inflict it on my fellow guild members. Other things were easy: a 2.2-pound of very fine silver lurex was a no-brainer, as was the pink-and-white mohair boucle, and a bunch of other stuff. When I finished sorting through everything, I had 2 1/2 boxes of stuff, along with an inkle loom and a warping reel, to take to the sale.

This morning, I dragged everything down to the guild meeting, and before the sale even started, found exactly what I was looking for: a clock reel. A clock reel is a wonderfully tricky skein winder that has a counter built in for calculating the length of the yarn in the skein. The name comes from the clicking or popping sound the counter makes. The reel is immortalized in the song, "Pop Goes the Weasel," which describes the workings of a clock reel:

Round and round the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey stopped to pull up his socks,
Pop goes the weasel!

Most of the clock reels I've been over the years have been antiques, and very valuable, so it was a delightful surprise to walk around the corner of the building and there one was, with a price tag on it! Made by Fricke Enterprises, my new clock reel has a two-yard circumference (so each "pop" is 2 yards), and is mounted on a small floor stand. This is going to make winding off and measuring yarns much easier, as I've always had to use a niddy-noddy in the past, and then calculate the amount of yarn by counting the number of rounds in a skein, or by using a McMorran Yarn Balance, which seems to be general at best. Now I can calculate yardages pretty accurately while creating skeins, so I'm saving quite a bit of time and effort.

Money isn't currently growing on trees, so I had to make sure I sold enough of my stash to pay for the clock reel. It was easier than I thought--the warping reel went almost immediately, followed quickly by some roving, some yarns, and a set of Denise interchangeable circular knitting needles that I bought years ago, used once, hated, and never touched again. At the end of the day, I sold enough stuff to cover the cost of both the clock reel and a small stack of vintage (1930s) needlework magazines. My clock reel was free! I packed what didn't sell (about 2 boxes of vintage yarns) and dragged everything back home; hence the messy studio. I gave the clock reel a whirl this evening, and skeined the black-and-white mohair: there's 256 yards, so I need to give some thought to what I'm going to use it for once I get the studio tidied up.