Tag Archives: stash

Checking in

Six months into the year. Half way through. Have I been making more? Do I care less?


If nothing else, I’m still happy with my lunchroom.

At the beginning of the year, I set myself some goals. Run more, read more, make more. The goals were modest, achievable, and I started really well.

Running went marvellously. I started a 10k training plan and blasted through 70% of my 240 mile goal by about April. So I can afford the current hiatus due to a stunning combination of wonky hip, work stress, and It’s Far Too Hot To Go For A Run Let’s Just Drink Beer At Home syndrome. Also, douchebags on the prom who resent allowing runners any space. Nice weather brings out the worst in people.

Reading also has been proceeding at a good pace. I’m six books ahead of schedule, and my e-book queue is down to 77 books. cough. I’ve only ditched three books unfinished due to awfulness, and actually genuinely enjoyed a few extremely random choices from Before I Learned Not To Trust Amazon Reviews. I keep meaning to take a book and a couple of beers down to the beach and just hang out on my own but it’s like eight minutes away and I am a terrible lazy lump. Slumping on the futon and open a window is almost the same thing, right?

The only thing I feel slightly shamefaced about is the making. I stormed in with Galaxy and Little Birds, but then I got a mental block on the next project, MURDERPIGS.

(There is a story behind MURDERPIGS. It is long and complicated, and I will tell you one day. For now, you only need to know that it is a cardigan.)

Anyway, I made a slight miscalculation with gauge and ended up with sleeves wide enough to make off-colour jokes relating to wizards. Worse, I ended up with one sleeve wide enough etc etc and then made another one. Sigh. So it got screwed up and stuffed in the corner for a couple of months while I spent my time very industriously replaying Skyrim.


I did eventually manage to kick myself into action and frog those sleeves. I then put the whole project in the knitting naughty corner so it could think about what it had done, and allowed myself to make some other things. To cleanse the palate, as it were. I may also have allowed myself to replenish my stash.


Just a little.


Yeah. I kinda remembered that Etsy exists. And then there was a sale in a local yarn store and now I’ve found out about Unwind Brighton and soon I’m going to need a bigger house, let alone stash box.

As of right now, I’m on four FOs and three WIPs, which puts me just about on target for 12 items this year, if I ignore how much I have left on the WIPs. And the sewing project which is also sitting looking balefully at me from the corner. So actually, I think this has been quite a successful half-a-year. I hope you lot have been having a nice time of it, too.

Drops baby alpaca silk


I’ve had an envelope of yarn sitting on the dining table for about a fortnight. I hadn’t even added it to Ravelry. Quelle horreur! Baby alpaca silk blend and I’d barely spent any time rubbing it on my face. (You have to do that to make sure they really used the babies).

As I was photographing it (and discovering that my phone camera is now better than my actual camera), I remembered that I had also augmented my fabric stash over the summer. Give me a wage, and put me near the internet? Stash happens.

Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery

Of course, I can’t remember what I was planning to do with any of these. I’ve got a pattern for a wraparound dress that I think I was going to try (maybe in the brown shimmer fabric?), but I’m looking at the other patterns thinking I just don’t want to make them. My tastes have obviously changed over the last five years.

I might make a skirt out of the skull and crossbones fabric. I don’t know why, I don’t know if I would ever wear it, but I think it might be fun.

I’m also feeling a bit disillusioned with buying fabric online. I like the convenience, but I’m a bit tired of ordering two fabrics described in the same way (brown shimmer jersey, bright blue floral jersey) and receiving two completely different fabrics (cotton jersey, swimsuit material). I’m going back to bricks and mortar. That’s not a problem, Brighton has lots of places you can go to and touch and play with your fabric, if they do frown on you rubbing it on your face.

Maybe I just need to buy from more reputable companies, to do some research into named brands or manufacturers. Perhaps when I find the Rowan of woven fabrics, I’ll be able to order blind and not end up quite so disappointed.

Got any tips for fabric enstashination, online or otherwise?

Yarn snobbery.

I’m now back from THE WEEKEND WITHOUT YARN [thunderclap, howling wolves, etc.], but still lacking a project. So here’s a random post I found in my drafts folder. As I recall, I’d just flipped from one argument on Ravelry about how acrylic melts babies, into another about how ‘fancy’ yarn was a waste of everyone’s time and we should all be happy with dishcloth cotton. It was a lot angrier before today’s edit. 😀

My feelings on yarn have evolved over time. When I started knitting for serious, I went to the Indoor Market and bought a bagful of acrylic. There was nothing else there, except for some limp dishcloth cotton. And the novelty yarn.


Oh yeah. You bet I bought it. I used all of it.

I quickly discovered that acrylic isn’t terribly pleasant for me to wear. I apparently have super-special-snowflake skin that does not like unnatural fibres next to it. So I moved onto wool, and thence to alpaca. Now I’m pretty keen to try out all the fibres I can (I just bought my first angora mix, by which I’m quite excited). I want to make more stash-in-shape-of-animal-from-whence-it-came shots.


I understand that other people might be against my preferred yarns on ethical, allergic or other grounds, and that’s fine by me. So I was all the more shocked when I saw the snobby, rude reactions some knitters (and crocheters) have to other people’s yarn choices.

Sometimes, they’ll give good advice. Don’t use x yarn for socks, you’ll never be able to wash them, or don’t use x fibre for a jumper, as it just won’t hold the shape. But sometimes…  It’s not enough to simply say ‘it’s not to my taste’, or ‘I prefer x yarn’, the offending yarn must be disparaged in terms of despising, or loathing. Ideally those that like it must be belittled also – ‘I can’t imagine why anyone would like Wollmeise, they’re only buying it because it’s fashionable, silly sheeple’, ‘I suppose acrylic is fine for beginners, but real knitters use real wool’.


I know that the vast majority of knitters are ‘ooh shiny yarnz yay!’ and couldn’t care less about what other people are using. But I think it’s important to stress that the loud, over-opinionated few who try to impress their opinions on others are just plain wrong. And what do we do when that happens?

duty calls – xkcd

So now we come to the point of this post. I want to reassure the beginning knitter, before or after they stumble into a den of yarn snobs, that it’s ok. Really. Use whatever yarn you want. Don’t let the grumblings of a few over-opinionated chumps put you off. You might keep using acrylic til the day you lay down the needles, or you might decide you only ever want to knit yarn spun from the tails of unicorns. Someone will find fault with either decision; so ignore them, and use whatever you want.

LET’S ALL BE HAPPY AND EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER and pet yarn *pet pet pet*.

Top tips: thrifting for craft materials

Charity shops and the like are awesome places to pick up both ready-to-wear clothing, and materials for your own crafts. I’ve found some awesome items from both categories, and while I’d like to pretend that people are clamouring to know my secrets, and I’m fulfilling the wishes of my fans by writing about it, really I just want to write a top-tips post.

Now; finding great ready-to-wear items in charity shops has been covered so many times before, that I don’t think there’s much point in my reiterating oft-repeated, common sense tips. Instead, I’ll point you to a few great posts I’ve found over the years:

lemondrop.com: Thrift Store Tips — How to Buy Unique Vintage Clothes & Not Get Hosed – with some great tips for how to avoid buying dud items.

The Budget Fashionista: How to shop a thrift store – with some more general tips.

Oxfam Fashion Blog: My top ten Charity Shopping Tips – a more style-oriented list.

If you want to get a bit more creative, however, here are my top tips for trawling the charity shop to feed your fabric, yarn, and haberdashery stash.

1. Prepare yourself.

Reclaiming materials can be a big, exciting, and messy job, particularly when it comes to yarn. Research your materials, and make sure you treat them well. For example, this is not a good way to reclaim yarn:

ex-jumper in process of being unravelled

I have no idea what I was thinking. I ended up with huge knots, and intense rage. Have patience, and engage common sense before you begin.

2. Check the nature/mechanics of the fabric.

For knitted items, it’s really important to make sure that the item does not have serged/steeked seams. If the yarn’s been cut, there will be no tidy skeins for you. If the fabric is bias cut, it might not be suitable for a pattern cut on the grain. Again, engage common sense.

3. Don’t feel destruction guilt.

Sure, someone might have liked that duvet cover to cover a bed. And yes, someone (or a machine) did originally put their time into making that item. But cast that thought from your mind. You now want it, you’re now paying for it. It’s yours. Hack it up with pride.

4. Think outside the box.

Jumper today, cardigan tomorrow. Pillowcase today, dress tomorrow. Fabulous buttons, but horrible material? Mix and match with something else, or get some dye on it. You’re only restricted by your own imagination.

5. Get right to the bottom of that pile.

Look under the pile of books, on the toy shelf, explore the darkest, dankest recesses. Sometimes you can luck out, and someone will have donated crafting materials they no longer need or want. Your average charity shop won’t have a haberdashery department, so they can pop up anywhere.


This 1kg+ cone of laceweight wool yarn was found underneath a pile of belts. For £2.50. Seriously, I don’t want to say ‘look under everything’ but… look under everything. 😉

Any more tips for converting bargains into stash? Any mistakes you’ve made, or wild successes you’d love to share?

WIP Wednesday: Jungle Dressing Gown edition

The UK is having some unseasonably warm weather at the moment, just as I finish up the last of my winter knitting. The people of Birmingham are taking to the streets in unfeasibly short shorts and sundresses, the fragrance of suntan lotion wafts on the air, and the first ice cream vans are emerging blinking into the light.

Just to make sure this balmy weather does not last, I decided it was about time I worked on some summer wear. Sorry, everyone.

Last night I started putting together a dressing gown. I came to this shaping via my pattern drafting book, which contained some rather perplexingly brief instructions on how to convert a plain bodice block into a wrap over. It will eventually have sleeves, and I’m looking forward to wafting around the house like the fabulous creature I am.

dressing gown

The fabric is awesome. It’s a duvet cover I found in a charity shop. Yes, those are giraffes. It also features zebras, parrots, monkeys, and suspicious lions. These guys really crack me up.

suspicious lion is suspicious

‘Umm… did that parrot say what I think it did?’

Also, remember what we decided about sale yarn?


Teehee. I’ve been craving an orange cardigan for a while, and so I’ve been looking online for purveyors of exactly the right orange, with no luck. Imagine my surprise, when after 20 minutes of browsing the sale yarns in my LYS, I move a bag of yarn I’m sure I already moved once, and find these beauties underneath. 50% cotton, 50% wool, the perfect orange and reduced from £55 to £25.

I picked up some zomgsparkly sophisticated buttons to match:

buttons! sparkles!

And when I got to the counter, I discovered the yarn was actually £20. I’m sure that stash-wise, that means it counts in the negative. Right? 😀

Let’s talk about stash.

So there I was this morning, bleary-eyed, just inhaling the first fumes of my coffee, when I spotted a new thread on Ravelry. One word.


‘Oh.’ I thought. ‘It is that time of the week. Maybe I’ll have a peek. Ooh. That’s a nice red. I’ll just put one in my basket. It’s bound to sell out before I get anywhere. But… it would be a good colour to make that top I’ve been considering. Maybe I’ll put another one in. Hmm. Still there. Surely by the time I log in and get into my Paypal, it’ll be sold out. I mean, it’s almost half past now.’

Nope. Two skeins of Ruby Thursday, on their way to me now. Gamble both lost and won.

I feel a tiny bit guilty about this because I bought my first skein of Wollmeise only last week, on a visit to Loop.


I’d said to myself while in the shop ‘ok, you’ve done it. You’ve got yourself some Wollmeise. That’s crossed off the list.’ But a little voice inside me pointed out that I still hadn’t managed to beat the crowds to the online shop, and so I hadn’t really bought Wollmeise, not properly.

Damn you, internal voice. Damn you.

Looking over my stash page, however, I realise that I’m not doing so badly. These are my first yarn purchases of the year, and I have plans for both of them. I only bought two batches of yarn in the whole of last year. Two.

For now, I’m ignoring the three skeins of undyed sock yarn I bought last night, because undyed doesn’t count. Right?

What kind of crappy awesome justifications have you come up with for the acquisition of new stash?

Hibernation. Not just for small fluffy animals.

This isn’t going to be a post bemoaning the fact that I have to remain conscious through the winter. I like winter; it gives me the opportunity to actually wear some of the items I create. And unconsciousness is useless without some sort of consciousness with which to compare it.

Philosoraptor ponders

No, this is about projects. Hibernating projects. The kind of project that slinks off to a forgotten drawer, burrowing down to set up a home amidst cosy balls of dust, and the cables of long-forgotten electrical goods. I was just congratulating myself on getting down to a manageable number of WIPs, and what should happen but one of these neglected projects emerges blinking into the light.


Two years ago now, I bought a drop spindle. I made some craptastic yarn. I even knitted with it. I was proud, but not interested enough to continue. Or, at least I thought I hadn’t been.

hand-spun yarn!

Wait, what? I did that?

It really didn’t look like that much on the spindle, but it’s about 130m long. That, my friends, is enough for an actual object. And reminds me of my original plan, and the original project for which this delightful yarn was spun; a two-tone plied DK to make myself an awesome hat.

more hand-spun yarn!

Am I really doing this?

So. Back up to four projects, one of them involving making the freaking yarn before I then have to knit the damn stuff. There is something wrong in my head, I’m sure of it.