29. april 2014

Too much stash-formation. A post on (dis)organizing stash

System? Kind of.

This is a reply to What's in a Treehouse's excellent post on stash organization.

I have only been a knitter for a good two years, even if I've known how to knit since I was a child, and occasionally knitted a sock and a half. I realized last February - according to Ravelry - that adding my stash to my notebook there might be a good idea, especially considering the speed at which new skeins mysteriously entered the house. I've got most of my stash there, except new yarn not catalogued yet, some old yarns with no labels, some yarns of shame, and the old winter sock yarn for knitting thick, slightly felted winter socks. (Those winter socks have so many names in Norwegian, it's amazing.)

The stash tab on Ravelry is genius. When I'm at a LYS, I can check if I already own that colour in that yarn. I often do. (My taste is quite consistent, as witnessed the second time I went to Iceland and came home with lots and lots of Léttlopi yarn; many, many colours and shades, but also many of the colours I bought last time I was there.) So, it saves a lot of duplicates. It's also a great help when I go shopping online, with preventing me from buying the same yarn colours and shades over and over. 

Taking good pictures of yarn is difficult, even if my smartphone has a pretty decent camera. I've learnt to make sure the centre of the photo is of the yarn, and not the labels. When you add yarn from your stash to projects on Ravelry, you see only a very tiny icon cropped from the centre of the photo, and if that centre contains the label, then you can't see the colour. For the same reason, I've made it easier for myself with adding the actual colour of the yarn, and not just the number, to the colourway field. That makes it faster to pick the right colour, particularly if I'm adding the project on the phone.

I like the boxes, they make it looks semi-tidy. The empty holes at the lower right belong to fabric boxes. Below, not on the picture, is more yarn and two boxes of toys waiting to become new and exiting again.

I recently bought the largest Expedit shelf from IKEA, and it's already almost full. One row of boxes contains fabric, and two boxes are for toys, but the rest is yarn related. Most of the yarn is stuffed in boxes in the shelf, but some is on display. It's a little reminder to knit with good quality yarn, and it's also my yarn candy basket. (In tray shape.) It may also be laziness. It certainly is a lot messier now than it was a mere month ago.

Living room stash. My bookshelves have doors, so I don't have to look at the mess.

I sort the yarn mostly by weight, and since I mostly knit for my daughter, I rarely have sweater quantities. It's good for sampling new yarns, but I try to buy at least 100 grams so I may actually make a garment of it. Even stripes and colourwork have the potential of becoming boring. Not a lot of it is bought with specific projects in mind. That's not how my creativeness works. I need to have the right weight and colour yarn ready when inspiration strikes, or else the spark is gone.

Yarns for specific projects are usually stored together, as well as the yarn that actually are sweater quantity. I also store yarn for hats and mittens together. Some yarns are stored in plastic zip lock bags, most are not.  I've seen no moths so far, and pretend they don't exist.
It has worked so far.

Yarn downstairs.
The stairs, an overlooked
storage spot.

Not all my yarn fit in the new storage. Some are stored among the books in the hall downstairs, others among the books in the living room.

Two poor boxes are still stuck in the stairs. Because toddlers and yarn are worse than cats and yarn. 

My stash is ridiculous I know. But at least my taste in yarn is getting better.  

How do you store your stash? Do you use Ravelry to keep an inventory of your yarn? 

28. april 2014

Short inspiration

Spring here in the south always happens way too fast for me. While winter is still firmly lodged in my brain, everything turns green and suddenly there's dandelions everywhere. But with 18 C outside, it's hard to stay in denial. (The Easter holiday helped as well - six days all sunny, and pretty warm too.)

Sewing may not be the most economical activity I ever do (at least measured in time units), but at least nobody suffer while making clothes for me or my daughter. Except for me of course. Possibly those surrounding me as well. There is usually some, or possibly a lot of, swearing. (I'm a Northerner. I'm allowed. Culture and stuff.) 

Skirt for the very pregnant me. Still on the thinking/swearing stage.

I've been working on a skirt for my self, but sewing pregnancy clothes without a pattern really takes some thinking, measuring, rethinking, and quite a lot of swearing. (Sorry.) With the warm weather going on, I decided to make a pair of shorts for my daughter instead. She got to choose fabric, a surefire way to get her to wear whatever I make at least once. She chose a plain turquoise jersey. Huh. 

That ruler is a superb tool for winging things! And for guiding my rotary cutter.

I had no pattern, so decided to wing it. I measured her waist and desired length of the shorts, but forgot to measure the inseam. I used a pair of pants in the same kind of material as a rough template, and just had to make an educated guess about the length from the waist to the crotch. I used a fancy eraser pen from Clover to mark the fabric, with appr. 5 mm seam allowance. I sewed with an overlock stitch on my quite ordinary Janome machine. I just dotted along the crotch (or does it have a nicer name in sewing terminology?) and used the ruler to cut the diagonal on the top, and the straight line on the bottom. Then I turned the pants and drew up the other side. And cut. That's when I discovered that rotary cutters and jerseys are mortal enemies. 

Turquoise. With freshly made stains. 

The whole process took five hours, a wee bit of cursing, a lot of mistakes, and ended with a usable pair of shorts. My daughter put them on and they got dirty right away. Success! So I made a second pair when Terje (that's my husband) put her to bed. This time it took two hours, and then I cut the pattern pieces for two pairs of shorts instead of just one. When I got to choose fabric, I chose...monkeys! (Or apes. Are they apes?)

Monkeys. Or apes. 

Two shorts done. In 7 hours, that's about 1000 NOK (appr. 167$ or 100£). Quite expensive shorts. (I'm a teacher, that's not even a high salary.)

A list of sewing mistakes and discoveries (incomplete):

1. Forgot to measure the inseam.
2. Rotary cutters and jerseys don't go well together. 
3. Rotary cutters and rib fabric don't go well together. (I'm a slow learner. Or stubborn. Or both.)

Just a little reminder of stuff to avoid. (The cutting mat was a strike of genius forethought, as I bought it before I had even heard of a rotary cutter. You should not avoid either - they are both superb tools.)

4. It is very difficult to sew buttonholes in jerseys. You need backing. (At least I managed to test this on scrap fabric.)
5. It's hard to sew a nice fold with jersey. It flares. At least when the seam is close to the fold. It flares when you fold it double as well.
6. The rib fabric should be about the same size as the elastic, if it is a wide rib and a wide elastic. If the rib is wider, it just buckles, and that's not pretty. 
7. The diameter of the waist rib must not be a lot less than the diameter of main fabric it connects to. It will cause the main fabric to bulge and flare below the rib. 20% difference is apparently too much. Will try with 15% next time.
8. When cutting patterned fabric, it's a good idea to make sure the pattern match on front and back. Half a monkey off looks weird. Hence cutting the double amount of pattern pieces. It deserves a picture so I'll add one below.
9. At least I learn a lot from the mistakes I make. I bet the swearing would be much worse were it not for this precious fact.

Not good. At least I didn't sew the pieces together before I noticed.

Have a lovely spring, with (hopefully) few crafting mistakes, great weather and excellent company!

12. april 2014

Yarn shopping and stash

Pinterest, Feedly and Blogger can be dangerous places. Especially when you find the most gorgeous, irresistible yarn out there.

A link lead from this to that to Etsy, and indie dyers Sunset StitchesThe colours, oh the colours... you just have to see for yourself. Add bonus: Names from Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and True Blood on their yarns. I needed that yarn. Never mind that I’ve never knitted a sock before (Not counting heavy, lightly felted winter socks). If I ever want to, it is good to have the yarn at hand, right? 
This is Soar, Ravenclaw! 

Ego knitting! Defo!

I also bought this wonderful yarn called Cheeky Merino Joy from Rosy Green Wool - GOTS-certified, from Ninapetrina. It must be the softest merino I have ever touched, and the yarn shipped so fast it was in my mailbox a day and a half later - great service. I liked it so much that I promptly ordered five more skeins. Yarn madness indeed.

Love the vacuumed wrap!

My new collection! Yum! Green colour is off.

Green, more to my taste.

 I'm very good at rationalizing my yarn related shopping. So good actually, that my stash have increased from half a plastic bag (two forgotten skeins of cotton that was supposed to become a hat (cotton, hat, Norway - how stupid is that), a few skeins of heavy winter sock yarn, and one full and one used skeins of baby wool from when I was expecting my eldest 17 years ago) and to this. (Ravelry account needed.) In just over two years. My most recent purchases are not even in there yet (nor is a largish box full of bulky weight yarn that I plan to use for, uh, felting projects?). 

It's very hard to stay on the narrow path with so many interesting - or should I say tempting - yarns out there that I haven't tried yet. Especially when Norwegian LYS, at least those in the area, have such boring yarn (sorry, but they are. Norwegian yarns tend to be either sturdy or superwash. Decent exceptions exists, of course) on their shelves, I can't even window shop, or touch, or anything without actually buying something, because the window shopping happens on the Internet, and the touching happens when the yarn arrives in my mailbox. The colour fails - ouch.

More yummy yarn, on its own awesome yarn tray.

I even struggle with giving away the worst of the yarn, from when I started knitting and I bought everything that looked knittable. I look at it and think, "well, this has potential, it could become a little tunic, or I could add that colour, or maybe I may knit something for someone one day, who actually likes pink"? Feeble fantasies of course, since I always choose the good yarn from my stash when I start a new project. 

When I knit, I feel good. When I knit with good yarn, I feel like a queen. I like that.

5. april 2014

Spring hats - vårluetid

Yes, she's a girl! Can't you tell by the purple shoes and the flowery hat?

Spring has arrived, and new woolen needs appear.

I have heard so much nice about the yarns from Pickles, and decided to order some skeins a few weeks back. I had planned to knit a baby cardi, but one of the colours were wrong. But with the warmer weather my daughter really needed a new, thinner hat, and this lovely, soft yarn just begged to be knit.

I did a quick Ravelry search on hat/toddler/gauge 21-23st/cm (21-23 st/in), and what did I see? A pattern I recognized! I had favourited a dress with that flower back when I had just started using Ravelry two years ago. I had no idea there was a hat pattern as well. That hat just flew on and off my needles with for me record speed.

I started knitting on Saturday afternoon, and finished Sunday morning. I was in a hurry, because we had planned an outing to an open farm to watch some animals, play a lot, and have homemade coffee and buns from the café. And she really needed a thinner hat. I’ve been off the hat knitting wagon for a long time…poor little one.

Playtime! Monster dress, and flower hat.

Plutselig er det vår, og nye ullbehov melder seg.

Jeg har hørt mye fint om Pickles sine garn, og bestilte en del nøster for noen uker siden. Egentlig hadde jeg tenkt å strikke en babyjakke, men en av fargene var helt feil. Men nå er det vår, og jeg har tenkt en stund at dattera trenger en lettere lue. Det myke, deilige garnet måtte testes i lueformat, rett og slett. Et kjapt Ravelrysøk på lue/småbarn/strikkefasthet 21-23 m/10cm, og jeg fant denne søte oppskrifta, som jeg til og med har siklet på før, men da i kjoleformat. Lua både fløy på og av pinnene i rekordtempo, sånn til meg å være.

Lua ble påbegynt på en lørdagsettermiddag, og ferdig på søndags formiddag. Den MÅTTE bli ferdig, for vi planla tur til Fritidsgården i Stavanger, og hun trengte virkelig en tynnere lue (jeg har virkelig vært litt lat på luestrikkfronten).

Magic loop, Knit Pro Karbonz 3mm.

No time to wash and block, I did that in the evening instead. Washed it and gave it a lanolin bath, and dried it on a balloon. I haven’t tried that before, but it worked like a charm.
I loved the hat so much that I knitted another right away, this time size 0-3 months. A present for friends who just had their first baby.

Ja jeg vet, vasking og blokking og sånt, kremt. Det gjorde jeg da vi kom hjem. Vasket lua, heiv den i et lanolinbad, og tørket den på en ballong i passe størrelse.
Jeg likte lua så godt at jeg like godt strikket en til i størrelse 0-3 måneder med det samme, som skal bli barselspresang.

Balloon blocking - so cool!

The yarn is a bit splitty, but not worse than I can manage. Most yarns become untwisted when I purl, because I knit combined. Russian purling prevents rowing out, and my rib looks way better. I just have to be careful. I really love the yarn, so soft and lovely. Guess it will pill...

Garnet har en bitteliten tendens til å splitte seg når man strikker. Jeg strikker kombinert (dvs vrangstrikk på russisk måte, slik at maskene blir montert feil vei på pinnene), og det gjør at garnet mister mye av tvinningen når jeg strikker vrangmaskene. Men garnet splitter litt på vanlig glattstrikk også, men ikke verre enn at det er levelig. Og så er det så mykt og godt! Tipper det vil loe en del.

Top: Earflap no.2             Bottom: Earflap no.1

Hats for babies and toddlers that doesn’t have earflaps are a bit unpractical, so I knit a few short rows on both hats to keep the darling ears warm. This time I used the short rows from Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heels. A bit fiddly at first, and the first earflap looks a bit untidy. The second looks a bit better, and on the last flap of baby hat you can hardly see the short rows at all. Even the purl stitches looks better once I got the technique figured out.

For å få bedre passform, strikket jeg kortrader over ørene. Jeg testet ut enda en ny måte å strikke kortrader på, denne gangen er det Kat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel som inspirerte. Det ble litt ujevnt på den første lua, men på neste ser det mye penere ut, i hvert fall på den siste øreflappen. Det ser ganske fint ut på vrangmaskene på ribben også, når jeg endelig fant ut hvordan jeg skulle strikke dem. En vakker dag blir det nok noen sokker med Sweet Tomato Heel.

     Left: Earflap no.3                                                                                Right: Earflap no.4

After being used a week in the kindergarten, I realize I HAVE to add Icord strings on the toddler hat, because the latest play fad is burying mittens, cowls and hats in the sand.

Etter ei lita uke i bruk i barnehagen, ser jeg at jeg MÅ strikke i-cordsnorer på datteras lue. Nyeste leketrend er nemlig å grave ned halser, luer og votter i sandkassa.

Pattern: Little Flower Hat by/av Ewelina Murach
Yarn/Garn: Pickles Extra Fine Merino. Yummy yarn/Deilig garn!
More info about the short row shaping and cool invisible cast on technique on my Ravelry pages/Mer info om kortradene og helt usynlig oppleggsmetode på prosjektsidene på Ravelry: