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State of the Stash: 2013

A new year means spring cleaning, and my favourite part of spring cleaning is airing out the stash. It is essential, particularly if you have a very large, very valuable, or very protein-fibre-based yarn stash, to get all those pretties out into the light and make sure there are no little beasties living in your precious wool.

I like to use this cleaning exercise to take a photo of the whole shebang, all laid out at once. I log every single yarn and fibre acquisition on Ravelry as it arrives, but there is such a difference between looking at those photos and getting to feel each skein, braid, and batt. I am so pleased with the stash right now. With the exception of one dingy pink ball of Knit Picks Palette (Peony, I'm looking at you, you ugly little thing), I absolutely love every single skein. I had forgotten how pleased I was with some of my handspun, and how gorgeous some of my indie sock yarns are, and how deliciously vibrant some of my spinning fibres are. Once I got it all laid out I just stood there, smiling gleefully. It's pretty. I know having a yarn stash might seem weird to some people, but to me it's glorious, rainbow coloured, squishable potential, in wooly form.

I arranged it by colour this year, which looked so pretty. For the record, our bed is a queen.

Sorry about the weird angle - it's not easy getting a decent photo!

Jake says any photo taken in a bedroom

must

accidentally include a large sex toy. I say he spends too much time on the  silly parts of the internet. So no. Sorry.

The entire right hand column is handspun. The next column from that is fibre, and the rest is all commercial yarn, most of it hand dyed. It all fits into two underbed bins. Um, there

are

some fleeces in the garage, but I'm not going outside to take pictures.

I took a panorama of the handspun and fibre too - it's pretty awesome.

Oh, and I keep my leftovers. I got rid of a few things after this picture, because nobody needs 3 yards of beige sock yarn.

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Post Knit City Hangover

Not a real hangover, I'm just work-tired. It makes me bad at math and let me think that I had misplaced $275 from the cash box. No worries, Jacob is less logic-impaired than I am, and fount it hidden in the cracks of my terrible spreadsheet. Which isn't a euphemism for anything. Ew.

Knit City was a blast - it was a well organized show with great vendors, teachers, and attendees! To all of you whom I was lucky enough to meet for the first time, or to reconnect with, thanks so so much for coming by the booth, saying "Hi," fondling yarn, and even taking some home with you! As much as I love my dyeing work,

you guys

are the reason I keep at it when things get stressful or monotonous. You rock. Knit night and yarn shows are pretty much the only times I willingly come out of my shell (extreme introvert + stupidly shy = hermit), and it's all because of the awesomeness of crafters.

Wanna see pictures? Warning, they aren't great - the lighting wasn't playing nicely with my camera.

Booth, right

Booth, Left

Pretty fibre

Pretty yarn

Pattern and yarn samples (missing: the new Angelus sample I finished at 1:30 Friday night) and fancy sock yarn!

Moments before the market opened...

5 minutes after this pic, this giant room was in happy shopping chaos!

And, of course, my haul! I shopped more than I meant to, but all of it was from new-to-my-stash vendors which makes me happy. Clockwise, from top: Layered batts, from

Caliope's Fibre

, Bordeaux top from

Muse Fibre Works

, Superwash Sock Twist (Self Striping!!) in "Malevolent Mixture" from

Doctor'd Yarn

, Spark in "Siren Song" and Boneshaker in "Cthulhu" from

Little Red Bicycle

, and

Jane Richmond's

brand new book, Island.

Thanks, Knit City crew. I'll see you again next year!

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Review: Wooden Buttons by Pymatuning Crafts

Sometimes I'm restrained and clever and I buy buttons after knitting the button holes or choosing a sewing project. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and buy buttons because they are beautiful and perfect and gorgeous. This may have happened just recently...

I found my way to

Pymatuning Crafts

after being enabled during an episode of the

Stockinette Zombies

podcast. Leigh makes gorgeous rustic wooden buttons (as well as shale and antler buttons and wood hang tags). It wasn't easy to choose, but eventually I settled on sixteen Blue Spruce buttons. I have a fondness for Blue Spruce that goes back to a potted Christmas tree I had as a kid that I loved because it was so blue and prickly and awesome, and then Dad used an airbrush thing to paint the deck and my precious spruce was below the railing and it got totally coated in paint and died but because it was grey-blue paint we didn't notice until right before Christmas, and then I was sad and always wanted another one but nope, it was all Douglas Fir, all the time... maybe that's an overshare? 

Anyway, there was a point where I had about forty buttons in my cart and was very seriously considering just buying them. Not only are there loads of gorgeous wood varieties to choose from (most with their bark still on!); these buttons are also made from dead wood branches from Leigh's own property, through a very simple, safe, nature-friendly process.

The shipping was fast and friendly, and I was so pleased with my buttons when they arrived. Look!

This is only a few of them, of course.

The colour and grain are beautiful and the buttons are thick enough to feel strong but still so light. There aren't any sharp edges. My favourite part? The smell! The buttons haven't been varnished or anything - just treated with mineral oil - so they smell beautifully of crisp, woodsy, yummy blue spruce.

So what could make me even happier with these buttons? The price was

amazing

. Sixteen buttons, plus shipping, set me back $12.80. And there was a free sample in the package too! Four apple wood buttons, just as gorgeous, with a lovely smooth bark. I don't like the smell of deciduous woods all that much, but I do like the lack of weird chemical smell and feel.

So, twenty buttons, plus shipping, worked out to about $0.64 each. You can't get nice buttons that cheaply at a big box store, and these are natural, hand crafted, and the money directly supports the artisan.

So go buy them.

Pymatuning Crafts

. Go.

And yes, I do have projects in mind for them, I'm not just stashing. Really.

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The Stash. Let Me Flash It For You.

So some clever Ravelry user decided a while back that April first should be "Flash Your Stash Day" (actually I have no idea how it came about, perhaps it just sprung forth from the ever-fertile Internet, fully formed). I did it last year, and here I am again. I don't really share the yarn and fibre stash for the benefit of others (I do hope that you don't mind seeing it though), rather, it's an exercise in personal stash awareness. It helps me remember what I have, fall in love with it all over again, and reassess what I plan on doing with it. It lets me feel comfortable buying a few new things if it's getting low, and it helps me to stop buying more if things have started getting out of hand (yeah, that's where we are this time). It's also a good time to shake everything out, get it some air, and check for bugs.

Well, there it is. That's a queen sized bed, fully covered. The far half (well, five eighths, if we're being accurate) is all yarn, the rest is fibre, and the blue basket is all the partial balls from previous projects and a few tiny sample skeins of handspun. Works in progress and their corresponding supplies are not included. And there are two washed fleeces in the garage. I recognize that this is a LOT of fuff. It represents a significant investment. I don't really feel guilty about it, as my hobbies have not yet driven us into the poorhouse and yarn doesn't have an expiry date. However, more fibre has since arrived (extenuating circumstances, I didn't pay for it, seriously!) and now the stash really and truly doesn't fit in its two underbed storage bins. In fact, the bins barely fit under the bed because of the way their lids bulge. Ever seen a rugby scrum? That's the method I have adopted to force them under there. I plan on working it down a bit before doing any more shopping, but I'm just one woman, and I can only knit so fast. Occasionally I get a little twitchy about how quickly I'm using the stash up, as if I might run out (ha. ha ha.), but then I slap myself silly and remind myself what it's there for.

I have to say I'm proud of how much of it is from independent hand dyers, just like myself. I'm a big advocate of supporting indie dyers (I know, that's like a baker being an advocate of eating artisinal breads) and it made me happy to see that I have put my money where my mouth is. I also enjoy seeing the way my taste in colour has matured over time. Apparently I need more reds to round out the collection, so I did pick up one skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Sport in "Tart" since taking this photo. It's really, REALLY nice.

The partial balls also made me happy, because they are hard evidence that I've actually been putting a lot of knitting time in. Even better, I just started a scrap project (more on that another day, but it's not hexipuffs so don't get too excited) so those small balls are still getting use, and definitely justifying their continued storage.

So there you have it! I bet some of you are looking at those photos thinking that I could definitely add a few skeins, and some of you are justifying your smaller stashes by saying "well, at least mine isn't as big as hers." I would even bet a few of you are wondering why the heck a person would stash yarn at all (question for you - ever collected rocks? Stamps? Pokemon cards? Sports memorabilia? Books? Well, this is the same thing. I know where each skein came from, and what the occasion was when I got it. We all collect weird things, my collection is just really useful and fluffy).

Just for fun, here's last year's photo. Note the lack of spinnable fibre. And all that acrylic (since donated). And the lack of sweater quantities. My crafting habits sure have changed.

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Fibres West Recap!

Hi everyone! I'm back! I had an awesome time vending (and shopping a little too!) at Fibres West. It was wonderful to meet so many fantastic people, both the other vendors and the show attendees and shoppers. I really do think that some of the most exciting, interesting, and kind women (and a few men too of course) in the world can be found at a textile arts event. There's something about all that creativity and sharing of knowledge that brings out the very best sort of people.

All the different booths in the market looked fantastic - it was wonderful to see the way each vendor was able to take a few square feet of concrete floor and create an experience. It was obvious how much each space represented its owner. And my space? In a word, it was colourful. I loved it - it felt amazing to welcome people into my little temporary shop, and to be surrounded with the vibrant fruits of my hard labour.

To those of you who came by the booth, thank you so much!

I've reactivated all the stuff that was already in my online shop and came home with me from Abbotsford, and I'll be posting more over the coming weeks!

Oh! Shopping pictures! I almost forgot. I took a pocket full of money and a few minutes on Friday evening to check out the other wonderful booths. I really wish I could have spent more, as there were some absolutely amazing products on offer. In fact, I'm really proud of myself for not accidentally buying one of the Schacht Sidekick wheels (I'm so in love with the idea of a travel wheel, and that blue drive wheel is way too pretty) that were on offer. I got my mum a skein of lovely bamboo yarn from Quo Vadis (didn't get picture before I gave it to her, but check her out, her stuff is gorgeous) I got two skeins from the Sweet Georgia booth:

And I got a fantastic deal on over 8 ounces of superwash merino/nylon top from Smith and Ewe. Looking forward to spinning it for socks! It's really juicy and summery.

See you at Fibres West next year!

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