New Year’s Resolution: Use That Stash!

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After I put away the Holiday decorations and swept up the last of the celebratory clutter, I decided it was time to take a good, hard look at my studio closet. That’s where I keep most of my fiber arts supplies and a goodly sum of my tools. While I dream of having a huge, walk-in closet with organizers and proper lighting and space to breathe, my studio closet is actually just a small double-door sliding affair straight out of the 1950s. I try to keep it all organized and orderly, with everything within easy reach, but that’s actually quite hard.

I noticed as 2015 drew to a close I was starting to feel angry when I needed to get something from that closet. I was starting to employ avoidance techniques–like having elaborate discussions with myself over the merits of pressing before sewing or whether maybe winging it would be a better way to go rather than actually weighing the dyestuff I planned to use. Heck, I’d even worked up half a presentation to give my husband on why he would love to give up one or more of his dresser drawers so I could better organize my stash.

You can just see the bling those beads add to the ends of this scarf.

You can almost see the bling those beads add to the ends of this scarf.

In the post-holiday quiet, I let myself acknowledge the real change I needed was to use some of that stash. That became my New Year’s Resolution for 2016. I decided I’d post my projects to Ravelry (just because I really want to learn how to get more involved in the Ravelry community) and add a spot to my menu so I can revisit my projects and bask in the warm glow of accomplishment (and spur myself on to actually working on this resolution through the year).

Use that Stash! 2016 Project #1: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Gray and Peach

I found nine skeins of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino I’d almost forgotten I had and a tube and a half of size 2/0 Czech Glass E beads in gray and white I had forgotten all about. I spread them across my living room table and ruminated over what to do for a good half hour before inspiration stuck.

The first project was a double-knit scarf in peach and gray with size 6 (4.0 mm) circular needles. I used a knit one, purl one rib. I split the beads I had across two of the three gray skeins so I could knit them in on either end of the scarf. At first, I’d planned to knit a narrow scarf with gray throughout, peach on the ends, and black in the middle. The first skeins of peach and gray went a lot farther than I’d anticipated, so I set the black aside for another day. The beads, however, were all going into this scarf no matter what.

After finishing the project, I wish I’d been a little less dense in adding the beads. I added them to every other stitch on the beading rows and set only one row in-between. By the time I decided they were too dense, I was too far along to rip it out and start over. If I had it to do again, I’d add a bead to every third or fourth stitch on the beading row and maybe set two non-beading rows in between.

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Peacock Stitch up close and personal

After the scarf, I had a small ball of peach yarn left over. I unwound the ball, split it in half, then rewound it as two balls to knit a set of wristers. I used Peacock stitch (Pass-over, Knit, Yarn-over, Knit) to give them a bit of texture. Since I was knitting with a single strand, I used size 2 (2.75 mm) double-pointed needles rather than the whopping size sixes I’d used for the scarf. They knit up fast; in just a few episodes of Daredevil I had a lovely set of wristers to go with my new scarf.

My biggest challenge wasn’t in knitting or designing. It wasn’t even in actually finishing the scarf for wristers. My biggest challenge was in letting myself create something with that stash yarn. When I bought it three years ago, I thought I’d design a shawl or stole with it. I had grand plans for a big, luxurious, lacy wrap that would feel so very feminine. It was an odd number of skeins, though. Although I had a vague idea, the practical details of a pattern eluded me. I didn’t want to break up the set, either, just in case I happened on the perfect pattern. I expected to find that perfect pattern…for a solid three years.

Letting go of my expectations over what that yarn would become freed me to actually let it become something. When I was in High School, my art teacher told me in sculpting you must remove material until the figure within emerges. He was telling me to get out of the way and let the Art come through. Until I let go, I was holding that bag of yarn in stasis. Now, I’ve managed to carve a small hole in my closet’s stash space, create a beautiful new scarf and wristers, and finally let go of an old expectation that wasn’t getting me anywhere. That’s a definite success for my first Use that Stash! 2016 project.

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