The upside of the fleece washing

I have more to say about my recent fleece-fermenting experiments, but for now, I’ll just say that having washed fleece on hand has proven to be a Good Thing(TM) and I want more of it.

A couple of weeks ago, I started obsessing over the Boardwalk sweater (and colourway), and (since I’m still trying not to buy stuff), I figured I had a chance of blending it from undyed fleece:

image title

I’ve been pecking away at the initial batt-building: a bit of this, a bit of that, in the mornings before work. My first-pass batts (not blended at all; just together’d) contain wool from three different fleeces (a mostly-white shetland with some grey, an almost-alpaca coloured Manx Loughtan, and Bolshy), plus some pale fawn alpaca (which seems to be way nicer than I expected – must investigate further):

IMG_3898

(The dark brown is over-represented in that photo). This morning, I divided, subdivided and recombined the batts and carded the first truly blended batt that has a bit of everything in it. The light was too poor to take a photograph, but I’m pretty enamoured with the result. Probably a bit cooler than the original target colour, but a fabulously interesting heathered oatmeal.

I’ve also enjoyed the batt-building/drum carding process way more than usual; probably because it’s been an experiment, and an adventure, and I’ve not been aiming to ‘finish’ a fleece or stick to a deadline.

In short: I want to do more carding and blending like this, so I’m going to need to get lots of fleeces washed so I have lots of fibre to choose from. (I also want to play with dyeing more of the fibre before blending, but that’s another story)

Knitting (or spinning, or weaving) my way into a box

My stash does not currently fit in its designated area. What that area is (several boxes, size immaterial, ahem!) is less important than the overflow.  Stuff that cannot be put away is at risk from dog, moth, dust and general life, and it also contributes to that ‘cluttered’ feeling that I hate so much.  So, when I was doing my stash inventory,instead of pushing odd balls into odd spaces where they really don’t belong, I put them in an (empty, not-for-trash) trash can. Then a second one.

And I thought I was done!

Then I looked around and saw The Cone. And then the two bags I purchased most recently, just a couple of months ago. Then the box of potential projects I packed for my first weeks in the new house. Then I remembered about the yarn for WIPs that’s currently on top of the freezer. Then the yarn in the yarn bowl a friend made me.  And the Rampton project that never got finished before I left.

And I thought I was done.

And finally I remembered that long cardigan, Myrtle, made from 10 skeins Debbie Bliss Maya which is all but finished – and hideous. There’s no saving it; it’s the wrong pattern for the yarn, so I need to rip it. So I guess that belongs in the pile as well.

So my milestone will be to knit/spin/weave my way back into box storage only. It may take all year!! (for clarity: I don’t have to knit from The Pile Of Stuff that is Outside The Boxes. Instead, I will put away what I can, as I can, and use the pile’s reduction in size as an indicator of my astounding progress…)

The State of the Stash

Yesterday I performed my annual stash-toss and inventory; it’s starting to become something of a tradition now!  (Two years makes a tradition, right??)

It’s safe to say I haven’t managed to reduce the stash at all this year.  Numbers are up in every category except spinnable fibre. It’s not that I’ve been buying loads: on the contrary, I’ve bought almost nothing.  But between ‘spare’ yarn and fibre from the Wheel of the Year club, membership of the Twisted Disc club, and just not having much time to work on my own projects, the stash has grown.  Here’s a recap of last year’s summary, with last year’s numbers in strikeout; this year’s in bold:

  • Just over 19kg under 24kg of stash, fibre and yarn combined;
  • Which includes 60.075 74.052 km yarn (that’s 37.3 46 miles)
  • Of the yarn, 14 14 km are handspun, so 46 60km are millspun;
  • I have over 12 11km of laceweight yarn, and 13.3 14 km of sock weight yarn;
  • Almost 17 24km of yarn (apart from lace and sock yarn) is specifically intended for weaving;
  • I have almost twice as much unspun fibre, by weight, as I have handspun yarn (5.5 5.0kg vs. 2.81 3kg).

As for last year, this doesn’t include fleeces. I will (hopefully) do a separate inventory for them when the weather has improved enough.

I’m aiming to buy nothing, or almost nothing, next year; I will allow myself maybe 4 exceptions to be spread evenly through the year. And even then, I might decide they just aren’t helping.

It feels great to know where I am, right now. I’m going to try really really hard to keep the stash and spreadsheets up to date this year – and hopefully see more of those numbers heading in the right direction!

(Of course, the one skein of yarn that i really wanted to find and work with over the next week or two? Can’t find it! Gah!!)

WIP Wednesday: return of the gloves

Do you remember this sad little story?

It has a happy ending:

 

Turns out that one of the advantages of sorting the stash is that teeny-tiny balls of handspun might appear from between the cracks.  This really *is* part of the same lot as the other stuff, by the way: I never (or very rarely) end up with matching amounts of singles on the bobbin when I spin, so, when I ply, one always runs out significantly before the other.  I have the habit of winding the excess singles off into a plying bracelet, and plying them together (if I’m making 2-ply), or chain plying them together for a 3-ply.  Sometimes I wonder why I do this: it seems to be turning frugality into a bit of an obsession, could I ever really need those last two grams of yarn?  Don’t I have enough stash, really?  Turns out, sometimes it really is a good idea.

This is how far I got with the gloves before running out: the cuff, thumb and hand have been knit, including a set of short rows designed to ensure that the glove’s fingers all start at or near the actual base of my fingers. (A pet peeve).  FO Friday??  Wait and see… 😉

The State of the Stash

Remember me pledging the Year of Stash Accountability?  well, if you don’t know where you’re starting from, how can you know where you’re going, let alone how far away it is?  So I catalogued all the yarn and fibre in the house (note: the fleeces live in the shed.  I’m saving them for warmer weather).  All. of. it.  With photographs.  The pruriently inclined can check out my Ravelry stash for the full, gory details, but for those who prefer statistics, I present a summary here:

  • I have 18.8kg of stash (fibre and yarn combined);
  • Which includes 59.9km yarn (that’s 36.9 miles)
  • Of the yarn, 14.057km are handspun, so 45.245km are millspun;
  • I have over 12km of laceweight yarn, and 13.3km of sock weight yarn;
  • Almost 17km of yarn (apart from lace and sock yarn) is specifically intended for weaving;
  • I have almost twice as much unspun fibre, by weight, as I have handspun yarn (5.5 kg vs. 2.81 kg). And I thought I could get it all spun up by the end of the year!!

Wow.  I don’t think I need to buy anything else for a while, do you?!

oooo, shiny…

Acquisitions

A couple of extra projects have found their way into my home in recent weeks.  100g of silk/merino top, bought at my local spinning group’s Christmas party:

And a skein of sock yarn, colour ‘Rincewind’, from the Twisted Disc yarn club:

Between them, they probably represent tens of hours of project-time.  Especially the fibre, which must be spun, then knit (or woven, I suppose, but I’m seeing lace in this fibre’s future).  This is not necessarily a bad thing – after all, that’s a lot of entertainment for a very low hourly rate – but it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by all those hours, sitting there waiting for you to get around to them.  By all that potential, sitting in plastic boxes (now bursting at the edges, if you can even get the lids on at all).  And then, guilt comes creeping in: anxiety pops a hairy little head around the corner.  The other half starts eye-rolling at you, and the perpetual worry of moth infestation threatens your precious hoard.

I’ve long since sold or given away all of my less well-adivsed yarn and fibre purchases, leaving me with a stash that is much smaller than in previous years.  But I’m still acquiring materials faster than I’m using them up.  It’s only getting worse, too, as I am neglecting my ‘personal’ stash in favour of working on designs with my own hand-dyed yarns and fibre: work-related knitting, if you will.

So I’ve decided that 2012 will be the year of stash accountability.  Between now and the New Year, I will attempt to log all my stashed yarn and fibre in a spreadsheet, and enter as much as possibly into Ravelry.  From the start of January, I’ll be logging what I use assiduously.  I’d like to say I’ll be posting monthly updates on my stash reduction, but I know how badly I tend to do with schedules and commitments like that, so I’ll stick with the recording pledge for now, and comment on progress here whenever I have something interesting to say…  I will be ably assisted in my goals by the Ravelry Stash Knit Down group, who are a wonderful, inspiring and warm-hearted bunch.  (they also come up with some really crazy ideas.  Check out the 12 12s in 2012 thread if you need proof…)

I’ll also make a commitment always to have one ‘personal’ project on the needles as well as any work based knitting that’s going on.  I think that should help me make time to enjoy the stuff I already have tucked away.