Monday, January 12, 2009

One Step Forward (Two Steps Back)

Stash reduction is tough, especially if you have a naturally acquisitive nature, and not nearly enough time to use up all the fiber you've acquired. To help get rid of some of the more "unusual" fibers (OK, crap I'll never use in a million years), I joined a group on Ravelry: the Karma Yarn Swap (KYS). The idea is to turn some of your unloved darlings loose out in the world, and things you like will come back in their place.

The idea took a bit of getting used to (about 10 seconds). Basically, people post what they're offering, then if you like it, you claim it, and than have 3 hours to offer something else in its place. Most of the threads in the group are regular trades, but weekends are another story entirely.

While the Ravelry fora are set up for messages, they can be used to do a bastardized version of IM or chat by staying online and frequently hitting the "refresh" button on the browser, or hitting the F5 key. As a result, weekend evenings are time for a KYS specialty: the Kick-Ass trade thread. One person serves as the moderator (a necessity, as there are dozens of posts a minute), and puts up the first item. It goes to the first person that can type "Me" and hit "Send," and that person then has 10 minutes to put up the next item. Meanwhile, everybody is busy chatting. It's fast-paced, nerve-racking, and fun! The items offered are also supposed to be "kick-ass" (really nice), so there's a chance to pick up nice goodies to add to the stash in exchange for less-loved goodies.

So far, I've been able to send away some linen-cotton blend, a wild chenille with bits of Lurex, a skein of my handspun, several skeins of Spinnerin boucle mohair, a couple skeins of Panda Silk, and a gorgeous skein of Jaggerspun Zephyr that I'll never knit (but it's so pretty). It's a good bit of yarn gone, but in return, I've gotten a skein of DK-weight superwash, 2 skeins of alpaca, and I'm waiting on more alpaca, some Filati cotton, and a couple skeins of Southwest Trading Co.'s Karaoke.

So, does improving the stash count as "stash reduction"? Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Marathon" Knitting

A week in, and 2009 is turning out to be an interesting year--I'm learning all sorts of new things, including a lot of words that probably aren't in common usage (and probably shouldn't be).

Firstly, the stash diet. It's...going. I don't know if "well," is really accurate yet. I've gotten two things finished, and gotten a few other things started. On Ravelry (where I spend too much time that I should be spending on fiber), I joined the Burning Up The Stash (BUTS) group, for some support in reducing the giant stash. It's been good for me--I spent two days cataloging a large portion of the stash into my Ravelry stash (the weaving fibers and the raw fleeces aren't cataloged), so I have a good idea of what I have. I also borrowed Stephen's camera (the really good one) and took photos of everything, so nearly everything has at least one identifying photograph in the stash database. It's nice--I can now go "shopping" right in my own closet, and if I really feel the urge to stroke my fiber stash, I can still pull things out of the TARDIS stash closet.

So, what's finished? The first is a cute little tea cosy, based on a pattern published around 1890 in Weldon's Practical Knitter, an English needlework magazine. The pattern is for a "Bachelor's Tea Cosy"; my guess is that the bachelor in question isn't bright enough to take the tea cosy off the pot of tea, as there are openings for the handle and spout. I worked this first one in Patons Classic Wool: Regency for the garter-stitched lining, and Bright Red for the brioche stitch outside. I love the brioche stitch--when each row is done in brioche stitch, it makes a really pretty rib pattern. I may knit a couple more of these very "homely" tea cosies--I think a giant tomato in red and green, and a pumpkin in orange and green would make nice gifts for friends.

The second is yet another pair of mittens, this time out of the leftovers of the Regency yarn I used for the tea cosy. I started this pair last Sunday, when I went to the Asian Art Museum to see the Treasures from the Afghanistan National Museum exhibition, and stayed for the knitting meet-up hosted by Afghans for Afghans. This pair of mittens, along with whatever else I can get knitted for them in the next few months, will eventually go to some child in Afghanistan so they won't have cold hands next winter. I've knitted so many pairs of these mittens I practically have the pattern memorized--I just check to see how many stitches/rows for the size I'm knitting.

I've also cast on my Irish Hiking Scarf, and I'm well up the leg on the second sock of a pair of Opal socks, so I'm keeping my needles busy. I also spent a couple days at my Bond knitter and cranked out a bunch of knitted squares (Good-bye acrylic!) to make a baby blanket for Warm Up America. That was the easy part--the "hard" part is crocheting around each square (a round of single crochets, followed by a round of half-double-crochets), then sewing them all together. However, it ate up all the leftovers that have been kicking around since I finished the Fibonacci stripe afghan several years ago.

The total yardage either consumed or being consumed is now at 2,355 yards. A "marathon" of yarn is 46,145 yards (26 miles, 385 yards), and that's my goal this year. At this point, I'm in my second mile, so I'm doing pretty good.