No pressure

Oh, dear. It’s been a while again, hasn’t it? It has been an…interesting month over here at Casa de Cusser, and to be honest, I haven’t felt like I had much to say (or at least, not much that was suitable for this blog. Or children. Or those with sensitive ears. Despite the nickname, I try not to swear on this blog, and there was a lot of swearing going on.) However, it looks like the worst is over (touch every piece of wood in the house), and things don’t seem so bad, and I do have something to write about: the healing properties of stash-diving in times of trouble.

We knitters have a difficult relationship with stashing, don’t we? It can be so hard to resist that gorgeous skein, that perfect colour, that braid of fibre that makes our hearts beat faster. But we have only two hands, and so many hours in the day, and all sorts of non-knitting, non-spinning obligations eating up our time, and though we’ve considered training that team of flying monkeys to do some of our fibre work for us, that would never do, because then we wouldn’t have gotten the pleasure of working with the stuff ourselves, and let’s face it: the monkeys never get it quite right. Especially the sleeves. So then we worry about our stash: we make wry jokes about having reached SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy, for non-knitters. Yes, it’s actually a thing), or about being found smothered by a mountain of yarn, with only the yowling of our cats to indicate the location of our bodies. We put ourselves on stashdowns and stash diets, swearing that we will only knit from stash, or only buy one skein for every four knit, or whatever arcane set of rules we feel might appease the frowning, tutting ghosts of our dour and allegedly frugal foremothers.

But here’s the thing: to paraphrase the icons of a different subculture, your stash will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no stash. Okay, that doesn’t really translate exactly, since it’s unlikely that wool will become a controlled substance any time soon — Big Acrylic isn’t pulling the strings of The Man just yet — but in times of upheaval, there can be great solace in remembering that special skein or bit of fibre that you squirreled away. It seemed like such an indulgence at the time, and maybe you felt a little guilty about it, but for whatever reason — a perfect convergence of texture and colour that might not be available again; a price too good to resist; the imp of perversity had been raining monkey crap all over your day — you simply had to have it. You put it in your stash until you found exactly the right project, and now, there it is, waiting to soothe your jangled nerves as you turn it into something wonderful.

I drew heavily on that bank in the last month. With everything else going on, I decided that if I was going to get through this without sticking forks in my eyes and running naked down the street, I was going to have to lighten the hell up when it came to my projects. No more guilt, no more anguish about too many WIPs, no more shoulds. I would work on what I wanted, when I wanted, and if those dour foremothers of my imagination started tutting, I would glare at them meaningfully and direct their attention to the cutlery drawer.

I started with spinning. I had bought these rather gorgeous batts of BFL/silk as a birthday treat, and since I wanted some nice, rhythmic, worry-free long draw, these were what I went to.

Look at these. What colours. What loft. What packaging. Photo by Joan McGuire, used with permission.

They’re from The Cupcake Fiber Company, and the colourway is appropriately called Velvet. Here’s where I’m at with it:

Almost finished the first skein. I’ll get there when I get there.

These have been so much fun to spin. The batts are smooth, even, flawlessly carded fluff, of which there is waaaay more than you’d think looking at the box. When I work on these with the music from Himself’s game of Skyrim as accompaniment, I feel like one of those exceedingly competent long draw spinners in the YouTube videos. Even better, when they’re all done (in the fullness of time), I get to knit with the resulting yarn, which I just know will be delightful.

Here’s the next thing I pulled out:

madelinetosh merino/cashmere/nylon worsted in Village. Wow, what a crappy photo I took back then. Sorry.

I bought these a couple of years ago, when I temporarily lost my mind upon discovering the madelinetosh Etsy store. (It’s closed now. They’ve relocated to here. You have been warned.) A couple of weeks ago, I needed a new, easy sock project, so I pulled this yarn out and started a very luxe pair of Stepping Stones. These socks were originally for me, but they kept insisting that Himself would love them, and he did, so they will be his. It turns out that Himself likes his socks long, so I can now say with some authority that you can get about a 10″/25.5cm leg on a men’s 8 1/2 (US) foot from one skein of this stuff. He liked the length at 11″/28cm. They’re top-down. Fortunately, I have some more in Tart, and he doesn’t mind if they have red toes.

Sock 1. Being so near and yet so far annoys me, so this sock will remain incomplete for a few more days before I redo the toe in red. As Himself says, it’s not like anyone will see the toes. Plus, the silliness of it should make up for the annoyance.

Finally, my latest. I scored some only-occasionally-available Malabrigo superfine merino a few months back. This stuff, my friends…this stuff is as soft as kittens, if kittens were made of angel’s down and baby’s butts. It’s just not right how soft it is. The idea for this project has been percolating since I first saw the yarn, and now I’m back in the happy land of blue and grey stripes, with the extra bonus that I get to envision the Dr. Moreau-type creature described above every time I knit.

They really must get moving on that touch-o-vision.

This will eventually be written up into a pattern, in a more available yarn that I’m quite excited about working with. In the fullness of time. When it’s ready.

No pressure.

9 thoughts on “No pressure

    1. Wow, thanks, BoPo. Coming from you, that’s a huge compliment. A new camera is on The List, but I’m kind of surprised by what the old Optio and some tinkering in GIMP can do.

  1. OMG those batts! They look just incredible. I can’t wait to be able to get back to spinning when we eventually get back into our house after nearly 3 months out after a leak – and no doubt I will also be accompanied by the strains of Skyrim when I do! Hope things keep improving xx

  2. First, thank you for the lovely review of the batts – I really liked that color way – so I’m glad that I will be able to follow their progress.
    Second, you are very insightful about our connection to stash and the ability to knit or spin through wonky patches of life.
    Third, it’s nice getting to know you!

  3. Ahhh… every time I read your blog I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit. I loved what you had to say about stash. I always think it’s so funny when I hear people talk about how they finally knit up some yarn they bought “like, THREE YEARS AGO,” as if that were a reeeeally long time. I’ve got yarn that I’ve owned for at least 15 years, and I feel like our relationship has matured. It doesn’t judge me. I will get to it. In the meantime, it just hangs out scaring away silverfish.

    1. Ha! Yeah, I think my oldest stash is also my oldest WIP — a sweater’s worth of wool that my Mum bought me in London when we were there visiting the relatives. Twenty-five years ago. The MC is beautiful — a medium-dark, russet heather, IIRC — but I think I got a sleeve, a front, and half of a back done before I realized that the colours I chose to go with it were…questionable. Plus, it’s intarsia. Ah, the optimism of youth. It’s in storage at the moment, but I swear I’ll frog & wash that yarn as soon as I get it back. Really. Honest.

  4. Such a healthy way to view your stash! Stash is hope, and hope keeps most of us going. Plus, wool prices *are* continuing to rise…

    Now that I’m in the process of cutting loose from The Man (for a little while, anyway), I’m rather happy I went a little nuts with SG last year…

    Love seeing your cupcake progress.

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