The deeper you go, the bigger it gets

When I got back into knitting a few years ago, I was determined to only buy yarn as needed for projects that I was about to start. Those projects were rarely big ones, so apart from the odd sweater quantity of good intentions, the stash cycled through pretty quickly. Then I started shopping for good yarns on sale, so that I’d have a selection of materials on hand when inspiration struck, saving money at the same time. And since it’s on sale, you might as well get a sweater quantity just to be on the safe side. It’s only sensible, after all. Even if there are sales every other week, it seems. Besides, we had stacks of sealable pails from the MIL’s eleventy cats — when you have that many, you buy litter in bulk, let me tell you — so storage was free! Then I discovered hoardable yarns: the indie dyers, the cashmere mill ends, the beautiful, drool-inducing, one-of-a-kind yarns that may not be available again, so you’d better snatch them up quickly. The pails started to multiply. Yarn like that you don’t use for just anything, after all. Besides, we have this spare closet.

Then my mother introduced me to spinning. A whole new world of stash acquisition! So much potential in every braid and batt! Yarns you design yourself! So much to learn about breed characteristics, yarn structure, spinning styles! The books get weightier; the tools require floor space. Two socks’ worth of fluff takes up rather more space than two socks’ worth of yarn. A 1-2 week project becomes a weeks-long odyssey. Pails won’t cut it; this stash requires bins. And let’s not forget: when you’re spinning, you’re not knitting. The backlog buckets of potential start to multiply at a rate that doesn’t bear thinking about. Good thing the stash has own room. (One advantage of The House That’s Eating Us Alive is space. Lots of space. What I’ll do when we move, I don’t know. We don’t think about that, the stash and I. Shhhh, my pretties. It’ll be okay.)

But if you really want to learn about yarn structure — if you really want to design a yarn from the ground up, so to speak — you need to get the fibre in its natural state, and process it yourself. You need to buy fleeces. Your stash acquisitions start to look like this:

1 lb 13.8 oz of fine Shetland

and this:

3.75 lbs of California Variegated Mutant. They had me at ‘mutant’.

and, gods help me, this:

This Targhee fleece started at 11 lbs. I scoured a fair bit before this photo. When it arrived, it almost completely covered that king-size sheet.

Looks like I’m going shopping for bins. And maybe a yurt for the back yard. I’ve always wanted to live in a yurt, anyway.

9 thoughts on “The deeper you go, the bigger it gets

    1. Oh, lordy, yes. I’ve bought one of those pre-reduced indigo kits to try; it’s only a matter of time before I start playing with dyes. You get such gorgeous colours with your fibre — would you mind if I picked your brain when the time comes?

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