Thursday, May 31, 2012

Granny's Daughter

When you craft with yarn, you end up with leftover yarn, usually not enough to make anything, but throwing it away seems wasteful.  I either hand roll it into a ball, use my yarn-winder to make a center-pull skein, or leave as-is. I sometimes have a pristine ball of yarn or two left when I finish a project. What I should do is return them to the store for a refund, but I always talk myself out of it or plain forget about it.

Thus a stash begins...

My favorite way to use scraps to make something useful, like an afghan. I have made several "scrapghans," including the one shown in my first post, with light and dark shades of a color, surrounded by black. Last week, while cleaning up the sewing room, I came across a gallon container with little squares in it--Granny's Daughters. Basically, a Granny's Daughter is round one of a Granny Square and uses between 2 and 3 yards of yarn.

About 15 years ago, I received a 3-ring binder 'card' which featured a Granny's Daughter afghan pattern that is one of Vanna's favorites. (Did you know that the most famous letter turner is a mad crochet artist with her own line of yarns?). It was designed by Nancy Fuller and is the same as her pattern on Ravelry. Anyhoo, the offer was to join a club and they would periodically send you a new pattern card, or even win a lapful of yarn! (like I need one...). Vanna: I like the variety of colors in this afghan. It's made of miniature granny squares you can work using bits of leftover yarn from your collection (emphasis mine). Yup, always trying to get you to load up the stash, er, collection.

I never did join the pattern club, but thought using up small scraps would be a "good thing." Thus the jar of granny's daughters has slowly grown over time.

These are so easy and quick and they can be done without looking. Great for TV, travel or anytime you have a minute. This pattern calls for over 800 GDs, so I started working on it and have about 400 ish ready. The major drawback to this pattern is that each tiny GD has two ends which must be woven. Have I said I hate weaving end?  However, I have perfected it and crochet over the tail when making the first 6 dc in the 5 ch ring. When I finish, I just weave that one back the opposite direction and take the final tail and weave it on the opposite side of the ring. Balance, symmetry.

So far I'm proud of myself. I've been weaving tails before they go in the jar, thus avoiding the drudgery of weaving 800 at once. Now I'm just working on the GDs. I can make about one per minute at slow speed, so if I need 400 more, that's a minimum of 6-2/3 hours, PLUS the weaving time (it takes more time to weave than crochet). Add in time to 'balance' the porportion of colors, and I should be ready to progress to the second part of the project by mid-June. I have plenty of white yarn on hand to do the joining, so completing this stash buster will actually free up space!

Friday, May 25, 2012

De-stashing my life

Note--- I wish this were a picture of my sewing room, but it's not.
It belongs to Tara of the 'Easy Makes Me Happy' blog.

All who create with fiber have a stash, a collection of fiber, carefully hoarded and nurtured over the years. I have had a sewing stash since high school. Who hasn't gone into their favorite fabric store and just had-to-have that print, that suiting, that slinky jersey. And the accompanying thread, seam tape, interfacing, and zippers (Why do I have so many zippers?). My other stash was small, mostly because I didn't have the extra funds and because I usually bought with a specific project in mind. So, if  I were planning an afghan, I selected the pattern and yarn, bought what was needed, and started hooking. I'd be left with a small amount of yarn, which I wound up and put in a box. I bought most of my cross stitch as "kits" and just threw away the little bits of leftover thread. All was well.

But somewhere between motherhood and middle age, things got a bit out of hand. One Christmas years ago, I made afghans for everyone in my extended family and all my co-workers while watching The JAG and assorted British mysteries (Harm and Poirot entertained me for hours). I was also becoming known for creating lovely baby blankets. I swear, some women in my department at work got pregnant so they could get a Karen Blanket.  I think this is when I started buying yarn without a project in mind. (For those without a stash, this is the number one warning sign--Beware!)

 I even opened an Etsy shop and started selling online.

Early in the 21st Century (heck, I like typing that!), I was getting 40% off coupons via email from Hobby Lobby every week, so I would go and buy yarn or tools. Sadly, the marketing mavens at Hobby Lobby know how to suck you in with gorgeous displays and with the mark-down shelf positioned cleverly next to the yarn. (Hmmm. Might as well look through and see if there's anything useful).
Again, a danger point I didn't see. Thus, all the cross stitch and crewel kits. 

Finally, I quit smoking in December 2007 and needed something to occupy my hands, so knitting became a compulsion-but I haven't smoked since! I think I reasoned that the money I did NOT spend on cigarettes was to be rightfully spent on stash!

Recently, I've made several forays into the sewing room, sorting and grouping, and its terrifying. I have about four cubic yards of yarn (boy that sounds better than 36 cubic feet!), two dresser drawers of sock yarn, scores of needles, hooks and scissors, numerous 'project' bags, and a library of leaflets, magazines, books and tomes.  When Hancock Fabric closed down in College Station, I bought a Vogue pattern cabinet and the top drawer is full of sewing patterns, the middle two with cross stitch and embroidery, and, of course, yarn in the bottom. I made a vow last year to NOT but any more stash until I had worked some of it off or given it and away and I've done fairly well. I have finished two cross stitch beauties ( gave one to my friend Kristi, keeping the other for me) and am started on a third. However, its baby time for a couple of expectant moms and I need to make two blankets and I don't have much baby yarn in the stash.

The big question: Do I work with what I have, or buy 'new' yarn for the babies?  (After all, it's for the children....)