Every year Hallmark (it’s headquartered here, don’t ya know) hosts a craft-type fair that features Hallmark employees and their arts, crafts, music, side-hustles, what have you. It is awesome and there is a lot of talent on display, but it’s a closed community of participation so you expect to see familiar faces and familiar wares which was why I was surprised to come upon a yarn booth this year.
“You weren’t here last year,” I said, side-eyeing the proprietor suspiciously. She hadn’t been, she assured me. I gingerly approached the yarn. I played it cool. I like yarn, but I’m also a price-sensitive recovering stash addict. I didn’t let on that I’m a dedicated knitter. I did not divulge that stumbling across an unexpected yarn booth made my day. Uh-oh, no prices. I would have to ask. I hate asking. Having to talk to someone is sometimes too much work to bother. But the yarn was nice and I like to support indie dyers so I did ask even though I worried I was setting myself up for embarrassment if it was too expensive for me. It wasn’t and I let my guard down. I admitted I was a knitter. I confessed I liked her yarn very much. And then I broke an informal rule I’ve adopted and bought yarn from her even though I had no project in mind for it.
I must have been feeling guilty because I took one of the 3 skeins (I didn’t fall too far, see? And the other 2 skeins are a matching pair of buttery yellow I bought with a general idea of a baby sweater. Also I might be forgetting a skein or two, I have mush for brains) and immediately cast on mittens for MJ.
And then another hat after I frogged the first because it was entirely too large and gobbling yarn at an alarming rate. Did I think to measure the gauge of the mittens I’d made and plan appropriately? No, I did not! Here I thought I was winning when I actually measured the kid’s head instead of just guessing at that, too. One measurement is pretty meaningless without t’other. Ripping is annoying, but worth it if you end up with a perfectly sized hat and enough left over for a bonus! pom.
Pattern: Barley Light also by tincanknits
Size: Knit toddler size to achieve child
Mods: Knit the garter stitch panel in plain stockinette
We have a matching set for as long as all the parts don’t get separated (so approximately 1 wearing) with enough pink to appease my kiddo even if it’s not the tonal baby pink skein she wanted to buy for her own nebulous 3-year-old purposes.
I used every scrap of my skein and it was oh so satisfying. Are there knitters, I wonder, who make a point of trying to use all of every skein? I bet there are and I can see why.
I went on a vacation, gosh, more than 2 months ago already. I always pack more knitting than is reasonable or appropriate. I’ve finally learned that vacation leisure time is so packed and leaves me so exhausted that it leaves little time or energy for my usual leisure activities. I’ve also learned that my limited trunk space is better utilized by new fabric/yarn/souvenir purchases than lugging around yarn I already own so this vacation I tried to reign it in a bit. I didn’t cast on a new lace shawl, for example, or bring a second lace project in case I finished the first. I just brought along a hat that was already in progress. And a sleeveless top. And some socks. Plus an extra skein of sock yarn in case of emergency. See, very restrained!
The hat was a Blue Sky Fibers kit I bought thinking it might make a good gift for a knitter I know. Then I decided that a hat requiring weaving in 42 ends felt more mean-spirited and burdensome than well intentioned or generous. Laboriously turning 21 mini skeins into teeny tiny little balls of yarn by hand confirmed that I had made the right call.
A long car ride is the perfect time to do tedious tasks and now I have a colorful, stripey, slouchy hat for me to keep for myself. I ran out of one color, but it was an easy thing to sub in one of the other 20.
I don’t know if I’ve ever actually knit with the emergency skein of sock yarn I always bring on vacation. Even still, I never want to be in a position where I need it but don’t have it.
Stash Rule-of-Thumb #967: Fingering-weight yarn is great stash because you only need 1 skein (2 tops) to make a pair a pair socks and you can always justify a skein or 20 (or more) of sock yarn on hand.
The Problem: This long-ago-stashed skein of sock yarn, when I held it, told me it didn’t want to be socks. Its seacell content begged to be worn somewhere north of the ankles. Its tonal coloring lent it to a wider array of possible projects. My first thought was Multnomah, but I didn’t have enough yardage. Also that thing about how I haven’t successfully made a habit out of wearing shawls, nor has anybody else I know for gifting purposes.
The Solution: A hat, then.
Pattern: Sockhead Slouch Hat by Kelly McClure
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Vintage
Mods: Cast on 8 fewer stitches & skipped 1st set of decreases accordingly
I could feign irony or sarcasm that I finished a hat in time for the season’s first 90-degree temps, but I knew that this make was unseasonal when I started it. Instead I’ll pat myself on the back that I finished it instead of letting it languish until midway through next winter.
Last weekend I sifted through the stash looking for inspiration for incoming babies being born to people I know in the near future and was truly surprised by how much of my stash is comprised of scraps of questionable utility. They’re too small to make a garment but big enough that they might be useful someday somehow and not a one matches another. What I had didn’t inspire nursery items, but the scraps from the totes I made for the kids for Christmas caught my eye. Could I eke a couple bucket hats out of them? I could! Barely. MJ, poor thing, got really upset when she saw me cutting these out because she thought I had massacred her tote bag and yet the matching set doesn’t seem to make her heart swell as much as it does mine.
Bucket hats are the best. You get to use fun fabric and not too much of it. They’re useful. They’re unisex. Oliver + S’s pattern is perfect and free. They make great gifts. Not this time, though: I made these in size medium for my kids. The new babies get nothing for now, but don’t worry. There’s still time.
I used to sew a series of concentric circles on bucket hat brims, but I read somewhere to sew a spiral instead. BRILLIANT. Such a simple and elegant solution to a problem I didn’t know I had.
Four little scraps put to good use. Very little impact to the stash, but a bit of a relief to the overwhelmed psyche.