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…)

Something new

Since my spinning wheel is really too large to travel in my car over the festive season, I needed to find a carry along spinning project.  (For clarity: (it fits just fine at other times of the year, but not so much when I’m travelling with both hounds, my own luggage, and a metric buttload of gifts).  None of my current spindle projects really spoke to me (and actually, if I’m being honest, I really wanted to start a new one for a shawl KAL that starts in the new year).

so I had to find an empty spindle.  Lucky me, I had one – and a ‘new’ one, too!

At Fibre East, which I knew was going to be my last show for quite some time, I treated myself to an IST Turkish spindle, in bog oak.  unbelievably, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to start using it!  I am **always** recommending Ian’s wares to people, and this spindle is no disappointment.

This is my first Turkish spindle, and so I have some adjustments to make.  My habitual thigh-roll doesn’t work well, so it has to be spun with a finger flick.  The wind-on is taking some attention and I don’t have it automatic yet, but I know it will speed up in time.  In the meantime, though, I’m really enjoying this spindle.

It spins strongly and smoothly. It has tiny brass weights at the ends of the arms, increasing the weight and the momentum, just where it’s most needed.  The finishing work is, as ever, absolutely meticulous, and the beautiful wood is allowed to speak for itself, with no unnecessary frills or furbelows.

Just perfect.

(Incidentally, bog oak is very special.  The tree that grew my spindle did so about 3300 years ago.  It fell, and was preserved in boggy conditions.  It is deep, deep brown, dense, smooth and hard – and I love the magic of handling part of a tree that grew in such an unknown age.)

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!!)

Starting afresh

It’s the winter solstice today – and (just in case you hadn’t already heard), the day on which that famous Mayan calendar predicted that the world would end.

I love the solstices – all the points of the year, in fact, but the winter solstice is a real pausing-point for me.  We’re just a few days before Christmas: lots of people are seeing a slow-down at work as projects are wrapped up, either done or ready for a bit of hibernation, and some children are off school already. That, along with the festive atmosphere of the whole country, makes it feel like everyone really is taking a moment for a rest and a deep breath, before we set off into the new year.

Of course, most people think of the new year as starting on January 1 – so these few days, 11 of them, can be a sort of gap.  I think it was a Mary Poppins story that said the old year ends on the first stroke of midnight; the new year begins on the last.  In between, there was the Crack, I think: a very magical time.

Well, I’m going to use the time between the solstice and the calendar new year as my own magical time of ‘between’.  If I want to start the year with a clean slate, it is up to me to get it good and clean.  The last year has most definitely been one of upheaval: I have a new house (starting to feel like a home, even if I am renting), a new job, a new family situation.  I’m not going to say anythign crazy like, “All WIPs will be done by the first of Jan!”, but I really would like a plan by then.  A sense of foundations under me, ducks in a row, and a clear way forwards.

There will, of course, be lots of other stuff going on in this time: family, food, celebrations, gatherings, walks, and general joyfulness.  Good!  There’s nothing like a bit of sound and light to get the spiritual cobwebs blown away.  But there are some preparations to be made, too, and some inward-looking time to be spent, in more than a few areas:

  • Self-care.  How am I going to make sure I get the exercise, nutrition and rest I need to continue healing from this monstrous disease of CFS/ME and be the best person I can be?
  • Home life.  How long do I continue renting?  How do I make my place, wherever it is, feel as homely as possible, and as supportive as it can be?  And what about gardeing, particularly with reference to sustainability and a general wish to be as self-sufficient as I sensibly can?
  • Fibre stuff.  What about the state of the stash?  What do I want to achieve, and to learn in the coming months?
  • What about Yarnscape?  I’ve already cancelled (or just not booked) the shows that are early next year; what about the others?  Could I do them?  Do I want to??

Anyway, have a wonderful solstice, however you mark it, a fantastic festive season, and a joyous beginning to the new year!