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


Brava, Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 10:23 AM  

Dearest Bess,
Congrats on making your 2006 stash dreams come true,
Thanks for the inspiration you have given all of us.
Lotsa XOXO to you.

By Blogger Martha, at 2:03 PM  

Happy 2007, Bess! It's nice to know you can buy fiber now, even if you don't feel the need right now!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 3:54 PM  

You are an inspiration, Your Majesty, and I plan to follow in your footsteps this year. No yarn in 2007. Don't need it, do need to focus.

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:22 PM  

Whew - I can finally exhale. I've been holding my breath for you since the KRRetreat, hoping you'd get thru the rest of the year honoring your vow. I don't know how you did it, but what an accomplishment. You should be very proud - I am!

Happy New Year - Love Ya!!!!

By Blogger Beth, at 9:50 PM  

Yea Bess. Congrats.
I got some bins from Wal-mart yesterday though not so many as you. I feel like a slacker.

By Blogger Jeri, at 11:42 PM  

Kudos, to you, Bess, for successfully reaching your goal. I'm hoping we get to see pictures of the stash, sometime in the near future....

By Blogger Mary, at 5:28 PM  

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Monday, January 01, 2007  

The Year of No New Yarn, Fleece, or Fiber


and may it be a happy one for us all. I’m certainly expecting it to be. I have so many happy plans and ideas and thoughts and wants for 2007 I feel like this could be a year of 365 birthdays with Christmas thrown in as a bonus. I’ll share plenty of them here, but I feel that, in honor of spending one whole year on a yarn diet and only slipping up once - with sock yarn, there should be a recap, an assessment and a statement about my Year of Draconian Sacrifice on this New Year’s Post. Here it is and it's Classic Bess - long and without photos. But I think the subject deserves a full treatment.

In late 2005 I was suddenly brought up short by the realization that my stash, purchased with excited anticipation, was languishing in the den, all but forgotten, and that my shopping had become a sort of addict’s frenzy instead of the pleasurable satisfying of a desire. This vague sensation that I was out of control had the unhappy effect of preventing me from buying the things I wanted, like a Dale of Norway kit. This fear began to sap my confidence as a knitter ... "Oh, I probably couldn’t knit a whole sweater for me on size 3 needles". Instead, I’d purchase just a ball or two of something; you know, I can always make a hat from it. Yeah. If I am ever in need of a fifteenth hat.

It was time for drastic measures and thus was born the Vow Of No New Yarn, Fleece or Fiber. There’s a copy of it on the January 13, 2006 archive page, along with photos of me being sworn to it by our county circuit court clerk. It’s all very official and legal, with signatures and witnesses. I have the document in my office at work, framed and flanked by those photos. The idea was that I would knit only from my stash and for every ball or ounce of fiber I used up I could put that $ equivalent into the savings account for a Golding Spinning Wheel. Carrot and stick. Clever, no?

So. How did I do? What did I learn? Do I have a wardrobe full of handspun handknitted beauties?

First off - I would say I did rather well. I did slip up in August and buy some "guy colored" sock yarn for an auction item I intended to donate - and then did not, because there were already too many items in the auction. That yarn became Christmas Gift yarn and I feel only slightly disappointed about this one slip, because I really didn’t have any manly colored sock yarn and with my men that means Navy, Grey, or Brown. So, I shan’t say it doesn’t count - but I shall say, that one purchase counted for little and at least did not become a part of my stash.

I right away cast on a sweater from the stash. Alas, I haven’t finished it yet. It’s of my own design, a very deeply ribbed sweater that stretches gloriously - but clings just a little too close to my curves, which are more convex than concave these days. But diet and fitness are a wholly different issue and shan’t be discussed here. I shall only say finishing it will be a good exercise in seam sewing.

As the year wore on, though, it became apparent that I was far more interested in the carrot - that Golding Wheel - than the stick - knitting up my stash. Not that using my stash is a punishment, mind you, but my attention became riveted on That Wheel. The focus became laser sharp when BD said one Monday morning, after a weekend of discussion, "Well, then, order it today."

Order it today. Such simple words. Order a spinning wheel that costs as much as a used car or a semester of college tuition. Bring into my life something rare and expensive and precious ... to play with. There is, of course, more to the story, like my frozen lungs and elevated heart rate when he first said "Sure, you can get that wheel." I didn’t believe that one. Nor the other one, when I asked "Did you really mean I could buy the Golding wheel?" I mean, what’s the poor guy going to say?

"Nah, I was just messin’ with you. Psyche!"

He’s not a jerk. He’s Southern. He is genetically programmed to say to his womenfolk "Duz my puddy babee want that liddle ole wheel? Sure sugah, let daddy get it for you." This was not the first time we’d discussed Golding wheels, so he had an idea of what they cost. I heard the gulp when he answered "Of course I meant it."

It was only after he’d had a chance to explain to me how we could put a brass ring around my Ashford Elizabeth and that would create the extra momentum and I was just paying for all that carving and how did that make my spinning any better, any easier .... and, as I searched for the words to explain how much the beauty of that carved walnut moved me, I burst into tears and wailed that the carving that looked like Jacobean crewel work and our house was the same style and it matched the tile wa-all in the ki-kitchen - and then he said "Oh. I hadn’t realized it meant that much to you." Ah. It was after all that, that I believed it when he said "Order it today." Because then I knew he wanted me to have it as much as I wanted to have it.

And after that, my Year of No Yarn Purchases seemed to have lost a lot of its steam. With no more carrot, there didn’t seem quite the same push to knit up the stash. There was still the vow, mind you and I was serious about keeping that. My pride was involved. And I had already begun to feel the calm that comes from not "having" to buy More More More Yarn. But I was less focused on getting to know and use my stash. In fact, my dabbler instincts blossomed into a whole garden of teensy bits and weensy ideas, itty bitty samples and snips and snarls of experiments. Though I knit a good number of socks and hats, I didn’t finish another thing in 2006. Rather sobering thought - that.

There were a few moments during the year when it was difficult to Not Buy Yarn. At Maryland Sheep and Wool I passed on the bumps of Blue Faced Leicester that I so yearned for, even though the booth owner told me she was retiring and wouldn’t ever be back. Some of those fleeces were just as difficult to resist. But I had girlfriends, sworn to prevent me from buying any fiber, watching over me. And then, I was actually picking up my new wheel at the festival. I was able to resist.

Most of the time, when I found myself in a yarn shop or at a festival, I hung around the books and accessories. My library expanded a good bit this year - but probably not more than it would have ordinarily. It did take real grit and willpower to resist at Fall Fiber Festival, not only because I was watching J’s silks and sock yarn disappear like dew in the sunshine, but also because the booth across the tent from us was selling The Very Dale of Norway Kit I’ve been lusting over for years! The very sweater that got this whole NoFiberDiet started! Fortunately, I was knitting socks with J’s sock yarn and the bad weather meant she hadn’t brought out any of her spinning fiber. Whew! At the KRRetreat I just made a swift pass through the vending area and then left. No point in putting myself in temptation’s way when there were only 8 weeks left.

I had built in 2 caveats, back doors, out of this monastic fiberlessness. If I came across a bargain so fantastic only an idiot would pass it up, a friend had promised to buy it for me and hold it till 2007. I knew I’d think reeeeeealy hard before I’d ask a friend to spend her money on me. Fortunately, it never happened. I could also receive gifts of yarn - and I did. Beautiful yarn from L and J for my birthday and from BD, the KnitPicks Palette sweater kit. This was in late September and on the 30th I cast on the 300+ stitches on size 3 needles for that beauty. I’ve joined the sleeves to the body and am working my way up the shoulders - or I was up till about Thanksgiving, when I switched to Christmas Sock knitting. I finished Mama’s socks while I was visiting on Saturday and left her sighing blissfully in her gorgeous warm elastic hand knit socks - Mama with her tired diabetic feet - Mama who will get More Socks Soon! Maybe even for her birthday.

Since then I’ve given some thought to my next purchases, though, and strolled about the net looking at sites. Socks that Rock yarn is high on the list and J’s got some cream colored rare breed wool that really does want to be a winter jacket for me. The choices are many and varied. BUT!

What about that stash? That stash I was supposed to honor and love and care for and all that. And use up! What about that?

As I said in yesterday’s post, that poor stash had actually gotten worse over the past year. It was messy and sloppy and there had even been some m**h damage, discovered earlier in the summer. And so, I spent yesterday reorganizing my stash and putting it in protective containers, stuffed full of fragrant herb and cedar sachets. Any suspect fiber went into the trash bin. There are 6 22 gallon tubs with content sheets taped on the outside. (well - once I type up the content sheets from my handwritten notes they’ll get taped on.) There is an under-the-bed storage bin that is all sock yarn and leftover small balls. There are two shawls a-borning in my imagination. There is silk to be spun into beautiful lace. There are even More Bins, smaller ones, needed for inside the wardrobe, so that its contents can be labeled and retrieved as well. Everything I own looks well cared for. It looks appreciated. It looks loved!

Best of all, I’m not being driven by some frenzied need to buy yarn. I don’t have to buy anything at all today. I had thought I should have to make at least a small on-line purchase to mark the day. Instead, I want to go knit on what I have! And since I’m planning on doing more of what I want to do this year, I’m not buying any yarn today. Who’d have thought?

So. What did I learn?

* You can go a year without buying yarn, fleece or fiber
* Carrots are a good idea but be prepared to be hungry if you eat it right away.
* Be prepared for the emphasis to shift over 12 months. Lots can happen in a year.
* The idea isn’t to prove you can endure denial, it’s all about doing what you said you wanted to do when you bought that yarn in the first place.
* A big sweater on size 3 needles is not beyond my capabilities. (Yea! for this, since I want to knit a lacy sweater from that Austerman Barkerole cashmere/silk/merino on size 3’s)
* I really do love my stash and I need to take good care of it. (Sounds like studio talk to me.)

Am I glad I did this?

You bet! I’m really glad I went cold turkey on the shopping. It’s nice to go to Richmond and not have to go to a yarn shop. Or go. It’s the have to part that I’m glad to be free of. I feel like I can give myself the time now, to really decide if I want something - and when I want it. Yarn isn’t going to disappear like it did in the 1980’s. Even if it did, my stash is big enough to last me till the next knitting craze comes around. Besides, I know where the secret serious fiber world lurks and I can get there from here.

I think my relationship with yarn and fiber is healthier for having taken a breather from the shopping. I have a sense of peace about yarn now; a sense of freedom, even of wealth. It’s what I was hoping for when I made the vow last year. So - I guess you could say, not only did I keep my resolution, but my dreams came true.

May it do the same for you.

posted by Bess | 9:13 AM