Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Saturday, November 29, 2003  

The Great Stash Discoveries

Ahh yes. Nothing like shopping in your stash for delight and, perhaps, a certain sobering shock value.

I was prompted to clean up the stash by three things:

· First, it was spilling all over the floor in the den, and had reached the point where you couldn’t get into the room without stepping on a bag of wool.

· Second, I couldn’t find most of my needles. I’d even misplaced, buried, or otherwise hidden, the expensive long Ebony size 7’s I bought last summer.

· Third, my college girlfriend is visiting today with her daughter & daughter’s friend and I am expecting at least part of the day to be spent playing with fiber. I didn’t want to waste the little time we’re going to have, trying to paw through the mess. Now I can just point and pick.

The project was a delightful way to spend a gray November Friday. My guys were outside most of the day and after returning from a lovely walk (where I bumped into LD and brought him home with me) and a soaky bubble bath, courtesy of SpecialGoodFriend, I began pawing through the heap.

First were the shopping bags stuffed with half finished projects, slips of paper, odd sale balls of yarn, ribbon and tape, and business cards from the various shops and shows I’ve attended - yikes - since last May! I had no idea I had so much Aurora8! Perhaps 30 balls of it! I really should knit it all up into some delicious fair isle thing. Maybe a cardigan. There are many balls of a color I might call muted wheat - and two colors of brown, a deep wine color, a dull orange and a bright one, a peach color. No greens - which this pile seems to cry out for - and the extra purple I bought to knit sleeves onto the Stained Glass Vest if I can’t get the shoulders on it to lie flat. (Yes...that’s the technical problem that has brought progress to a halt. The math, my dears, the math!!)

There were lots of crannies where I’d stuffed odd balls of yarn. There are two balls of a nylon ribbon in golds and two of a variegated Trendsetter ribbon with picot edges. And two fluffy eyelash yarns, one of baby blues for a scarf for my goddaughter, and one in peaches and yellows - a pair of lovely sock yarns, a skein of Dune, 2 skeins of Fly in a steely gray/green color ... and much much more.

In larger quantities, there is the ever present 1000+ yards of mossy green, bluefaced leicester I really do intend to knit an aran sweater with and the two different Brown Sheep handpaints, in quantities large enough to knit adult sweaters, in the box into which I didn’t even look. Sigh. I love both these yarns and can’t figure out yet what I want to make from them.

There were also the skeins I use to teach my beginner classes. They get their own bag and don’t count as real stash, though, of course, if I want to knit them up it’s okay. It’s mostly Brown Sheep Nature Spun and .... yahhh - I forget the other one -with a little mohair in it.. anyway - sale skeins of the BS wools to start new students on the path to stashdom.

Then there is the box of acrylic I use to make toys with and to teach children. That box also has an enormous bag of plastic beads with holes large enough to string them on yarn. Kids seem happiest completing small projects that are fancy so knitting with beads is incorporated into my kids classes.

SO - with enough yarn to make untold numbers of small things and 4 complete sweaters - that got most of the stuff on the floor out of the way. In the process, I uncovered all of Annie Modesitt’s booklets I’ve gotten at classes she’s taught, several flyers about fiberish events, a huge thing I printed off the internet about different sheep breeds and the latest Halcyon catalog. Also the receipts for October’s utilities and the car insurance. Gulp. Well - we won’t talk about that.

Then there is the fiber. We won’t mention the bags of fiber in Pop’s blanket chest. That’s part of the stash we can sort of ignore for now, though that’s where the chocolate brown stuff is and the variegated silk. But the other fibers - the 5 more ounces of the beautiful sugar maple colored roving I bought from Stony Mt. Fibers in 2002! This is what’s on my wheel right now - so they were popped into one of the baskets BD made for me 20 years ago. That and HeyBaby went out into the living room and suddenly the den didn’t feel so crowded anymore.

I found 8 oz of tencil/merino blend in a honey beige color and 1 lb. of the same in blues. Dang - I’d completely forgotten about that stuff. It spins up into the prettiest silky shiny yarn. Alas - neither color would look good on me .... but I know some folk it would be beautiful on - - and a skein of yarn is a FinishedObject.

Then the gorgeous braids I bought from Jen at the Retreat. There is a cashmere/merino blend in eyepopping RED and there are two Angora/merino/silk ones. Then there is a beautiful green and brown one she sent me in September. Yum. There are about 5 nests of dyed merino top I made in the summer including the superwash merino I dyed to look like the sweet gum - that came out rather a screaming red-orange with a dyed to match green harmonizing along with it. I intended to make bright vibrant socks with it - grew nervous that there wasn’t enough fiber and disappointed that my yarn was more a sport weight than a sock weight - but now I think there probably is enough to make up a pair of socks, so that one is bumped up a little higher on the to-do list.

There is a whole basket of little odds and ends of handpainted fiber. Not enough to make much of anything - and I’m thinking of drafting them all together, a la Deb Menz, and making what she calls “complex” yarn. I think I should look good in a little watch cap knit from complex yarns. Might even get enough to make some complex mittens too.

There is an enormous bag full of bags of different colored mohair locks. Clean ones only. I’ve tossed the trashy mohair locks. There is enough to make a brown glittery boucle and a blue one. Both will take a long time to make but will be gorgeous when finished. The question is “Does Bess have what it takes to complete a lengthy project?” The desire is there, but is the discipline?

There are also three lovely 4-oz bags of fibers I bought from Jen - my favorite is the Romeldale in warm toasty browns. There is about another pound of Merino top, another pound of Cormo roving from Barbara Gentry’s flock, about 6 oz of a shetland and silk blend, 8 oz. of a Romney and angora blend and a bag of about a pound of some wool roving that has trash in it. What was I thinking to buy that?

A word here about trash in fiber.

There’s trash and then there’s TRASH. I rather enjoy a bit of chaff or oat or grass, now and then, in a fiber. It makes me smile to think of the animal who ate that hay and the owner who fed that animal and the cycle of care and love and heart that goes into the farm experience. But when the vegetable matter is carded throughout an entire fleece - ick - there really isn’t any pleasure in working with it. Every draft has to be flicked and fiddled with, I will never get it all out, and I will never want to knit with whatever I spin, nor wear whatever I’d knit with such prickly yarn. I look at this bag - a big bag - and I don’t remember where it came from and there are no receipts in the bag - and I know I’m going to toss it. Possibly I can felt with it - maybe dye it and make little felted toys. Or some of Catherine’s felted mice. Hmmm. Yes. A tray of mice might just work.....

But let this be a lesson to me. NO more trashy fibers for me. Nada. Niet. Nein. Never again. If I order something and it doesn’t pass my TrashTest, I’ll ship it back.

The bag of beautiful fluffy gray corriadale fleece, washed and ready to card, proved to be just too much. I realized I will never get around to carding up the rolags to make my sweater, and so off to Zeilinger’s this stuff goes, on Monday.

I also have about 3/4 of a pound of merino superwash top and 2.5 pounds of yarns for dyeing.


I filled a small basket with unfinished objects. Little scarf things and an eyelash dickey I began, (that’s where one of the size 7 needles was hidden) a year ago. The sort of thing you wear underneath open shirt collars or jewel necked sweaters. Most of these things could be done in a few hours - Christmas presents?

The big discovery though - the truly forgotten bag was not fiber, but yarn. Balls and balls of slippery rayon/polyamid eyelash yarn in Christmas Red, purchased from GotYarn out of her sale bin - at a deep sale price, probably paid about $2 each for them. I remember Dana said she’d never carry it again because it was so slippery the balls came apart just by looking at them. There is enough to knit a sort of cropped Christmas party sweater - very glitzy and funky. The stuff is called STARS and it’s made by Adriafil. It’s the silkiest eyelash I’ve ever touched and I longed to have a sweater out of it. I bought a few balls of gold Rowan Lurex Shimmer to make it even more festive - but the truth is, pre-WW I was a wee bit nervous about actually wearing such a fuzzy red sweater.

Things are different now and I swatched up a bit of the fluffy stuff last night, getting 2.5 stitches to the inch on size 10.5 needles. Last summer I bought an Anny Blatt book for a whopping $18. I probably would never make anything out of it, because the directions require more thinking than I want to do pluss, not only could I figure out a similar interesting design myself, I’d have more fun doing so. Following patterns in knitting always feels like mending to me. But the designs are fantastic - creative, funky, exciting. I bought the book for it’s inspiration value. This is the perfect yarn to be inspired with. Maybe something short with capped sleeves and a jewel neck? with gold trim....

So - that’s shopping in Bess’ stash. The big stash, not the one that has the mohair that will be knit into a baseball jacket someday.

P.S. Blogger is still messin' with me and I can't edit anything after 11/25/03. So if links don't work, spelling or grammar is weird - eh. It's nothing I can fix.

posted by Bess | 8:31 AM