Yarn Along: Tidying Up

Last week, I did a little experiment. Elizabeth sent me five "mystery fibers." They were each labeled, A-E, in their own bags. I didn't know which one was which but I knew I had llama, yak, merino, cashmere, and alpaca. The idea was to play with each of them long enough to see if I would react.

About 20% of the population reports being "allergic" to wool. Most of them are actually just sensitve to wool's prickly fibers. Truly allergic people have respiratory symptoms--wheezing, sneezing, running nose, itching and tearing eyes. Every one of those bags caused me allergic symptoms, though the cashmere was not nearly so bad as the others.

This fact made me exceedingly sad. My visit to the yarn store had shown me what amazing yarns were out there. It had also been heavily skewed towards wool. It's a part of the knitting world that will not be a part of my world.

I made an order to WEBS shortly after completing the experiment. I ordered several cotton yarns, just one skein each. The plan is knit gauge swatches and find a yarn I really love so that I can browse patterns (one of my new favorite pasttimes) and know that I can find an alternative to wool. So, I'm knitting lots of squares again:-). I never would have thought I'd purposefully order yarn to just make swatches, but now I'm seeing that I need to just knit with a few options before I get over my head with yarns that aren't going to work.


I'm still reading Organized Simplicity. And I think its principles are affecting my knitting a wee bit. A friend laughed the other day when she saw my well-organized knitting pattern book. I guess I've started enough new crafting hobbies the wrong way that I'm determined to be organized and careful from the get-go with knitting. The day after our knitting "Momcation," there was yarn on the living room table and I found needles under the couch. Someone had already torn a label off a bright pink yarn, only one of its kind, leaving me the first mystery yarn in my stash. I know enough about how to keep things organized after all these years with all these kids to see that this was a disaster in the making. So, I determined to do this right, right from the beginning.


I have two notebooks. One is for patterns. I like to print right after I download, so that I don't need my computer to knit. Knitting has been a wonderful way to pull myself away from the computer and I like it that way. All the patterns are filed, according to age and gender, in page protectors.


The other notebook is for gauge swatches. I slip the knitted gauge swatch into a page protector with the band from the yarn and a note reminding msyelf what needles I used to knit the swatch and what my gauge was. A zippered pocket holds buttons behind a clear plastic window and sewing needles and notion behind the buttons.


I really didn't want a "yarn stash." It seems counterintuitive to so many things: battling clutter, avoiding overbuying, finishing what I start...After the "momcation," I had several skeins of yarn. I had no idea whatsoever what I was going to knit with them. Come to think of it, I had no idea how to knit;-). I also learned that knitters like to gift other knitters with yarn. So, there were several skeins there of very nice yarn, some of it so nice that it's still waiting for me to deicde what is worthy of its knitting. The stash --since apparently there was going to be a stash-- needed a home. I have installed it in the cabinets of our antiquated TV hutch. [Yes, my husband is a television executive and our TVs are all turn-of-the-century boxes. I figure if he ever decides we need a flat TV, that just gives me a much bigger space in the cabinet for knitting books.] The yarn is there, with mine on the top shelf and the girls' beneath it. And I have the girls trained to keep their projects on their yarn shelf when they're not working on them. I'm going to help them sew project bags this week.


I have a basket with all my Harmony needles in a small bag. The cables not currently in use are also in the basket, along with a tape measure, stitch markers, needle gauge, and some straight needles. The little green triangle from my first knitting lessons also lives there, inspiring me with warm memories.


I keep my current project (and I try to have just one) in a drawstring project bag. There is a tiny pair of scissors in there, my current yarn, a page-protected copy of the pattern with the numbers for the proper size circled, and any notions I may need during that knit. When I'm home and not knitting, the project bag goes in the basket and the basket goes in the cabinet.


Our growing collection of kntting books and pattern books are in the cabinet, too. A place for everything. I don't want to ruin the relaxing effect that knitting has on me by turning into yet one more thing that has us scrambling and searching so that we can relax and create.

My girlies are learning to knit, and loving it. I tend to be very liberal with creative materials. My children  have unfettered access to paints, paper, crayons, clay, magic markers, chenille stems. Our craft room is always on the brink of disaster. (The things Christian has done with duct tape and cardboard and paint are astounding.) While I want to continue to be unabashedly enthusiastic in all their creative pursuits, I have learned a thing or two. They have freedom within well-defined limits with the knitting supplies.

And I am still committed to very limited UFOs and a very small stash of yarn.


Psst, I started my Baby Surprise Jacket. My life is going to be a little crazier than usual next week, so I wanted to get a head start. Very fun knit! Won't you join us for a knit-along? Look for a post announcing prizes by the end of the week and sign up to start by May 9th!

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