Acquiring yarn. A long yarn.

It all sounds so innocent, doesn’t it? As if yarn just sailed breezily into the stash one fine day, unasked and as a pleasant bonus, ready to go, begging to be used and as if everything was totally above board. “Acquisition: an asset obtained” – another such innocent word, “obtained”. What, just floated in? img_2829

It isn’t really innocent, though! It’s sneaky, addictive stuff that writhes its way around your brain and immobilises everything but your greedy eyes and the finger that presses the buttons (either on the card machine or your computer…). Wicked, dominating yarn!

The poor animals we get our yarn from (well, maybe the plants, too), they happily give up their fleeces without a thought for the emotional rollercoaster caused to knitters and crocheters. The hours spent perusing Ravelry and endless files and books of patterns to find just the right combination of instruction and fibre to produce the most fantastic shawl/hat/sweater/mittens/insert item here: xxx! The convoluted attempts to remember the pattern you’ve just seen and if it needed worsted, sport or fingering yarn because you’ve just gloated over all three kinds and in your mind, in your mind you’re imagining the finished object and not the WIP that will sit with the pile of other WIPs for months or years because the next yarn or pattern came along and entangled you.

Will it be worth the precious skein/s sitting there beckoning seductively? Will the tension be right? Will I have to make three gauge squares (oh no!)? Will I knit it and then hate every stitch and frog it? Will I knit it and then not be able to bear to rip every last loop out and start again? Questions and thoughts upon questions and thoughts, it’s all such a harrowing process, so exhausting! img_0023April 2012 – of this yarn, only the blue has so far been knit up (though it is a much-worn Marin shawlette!)… The lace has had two false starts, lovely though it is 😮 

Despite all the agonies, we commit to our craft over and over again. I have recently found that I’m picking yarn up all over the place, with only the slightest of triggers necessary. I used to think I didn’t have stash. I certainly didn’t have the “sweater’s worth of XYZ” lying around, as you hear from some knitters who seem to go in for bulk-buying. Yes, I had a couple of ball’s worth of sock yarn hanging around and a few leftovers, occasionally a whole unit (hank, skein, cake, ball, whatever). That changed when I discovered excellent value-for-money yarn, perhaps coincidentally Scandinavian – Norwegian and Icelandic – and inexplicably started buying in larger quantities! And picking up another pretty hand-dyed skein here, or a lace – so budget-friendly – there, where one is enough for a pair of socks or a shawl. Or a hat or a pair of mittens. And then the sales, oh dear, woe betide there is 10, 20 or even 35% off, how could I possibly not dream and press those buttons that deplete my funds?! Gluttony! Hoarder! img_3055Most, if not all, of these yarns have been knit up, and pretty successfully, I’m happy to say!img_3979This, however, languishes still…such a pretty light blue…

Not forgetting the category of those wonderful people, enablers. Those who think of us and get an extra because they know we’d love it (and know our favourite colours). Who very rightly just know we will be thrilled to get fibre in the post, loot, wheee. The ones who give us yarn for breakfast, so to speak. And the ones who encourage us to try out this or that and tell us where to go and when there are good deals! Great community, great friends. Oh, lovely friends 🙂

Which brings me to (some of) my recent and not-so-recent acquisitions. Ahem.

Just before Christmas, there happened to be a sale of the now discontinued Lang Alberta at my favourite online LYS… Two lots of the infamous “sweater’s worth” of this lovely yarn jumped into my basket and hey presto, arrived in the most enormous box one fine December day (much to the amusement of my visitor friend Helen and my daughter – both knitters…) as we sat chatting. What were my plans, they asked? No idea! But a few late nights after Christmas I got my act together and started avidly on the first colour, imaginatively called “Schlamm” (sludge…). It was supposed to be a dark green but although my mother said it definitely was, I still think it’s more dark brown than green, but I digress. A pattern I already had looked to be the ideal one, Alana Dakos Buds and Blooms cardigan has an attractive portrait collar that looked cosy and overall the shape looked as if it would be just right for me. I cast on and sailed away with it, a worsted weight yarn (with cashmere, no less!) on large needles, simply a breeze. After redoing the collar 5 times, I finally finished, and… meh. Yet again I had followed a pattern according to bust size and again, it had turned out large and shapeless, swamping me and just – not what I’d envisioned! Oh no! Sorry to say, that quick incarnation was promptly frogged and now awaits a new and better idea – the yarn is delicious and more importantly, it blocks to a gorgeous drapey fabric. Perhaps a big heavy shawl is in order? I still maintain it’s brown. img_7693It definitely photographs brown, anyway! I’m looking at a ball of it right now and struggling to see any green, though I have done before now – fleetingly.

Disheartened, I picked up the same needles to start on the next batch of Alberta (and no, of course I wasn’t influenced by the fact that one of my best friends lives in Alberta, now would I?!). A lovely soft light blue-grey that would become a fantastically practical throw-over-anything sweater and this time, I had already got the pattern sorted out in advance. It was to be Joji Locatelli’s Lemongrass, a twist on the classic grey cabled sweater with split, curved sides and hi-lo hem, it was going to be my go-to for the really cold months, cuddly and warm and a coccoon…. it was all there in my imagination.

Now I am someone who enjoys knitting on pretty thin needles. After a cardigan’s worth of 5 and 5.5 mm needles, I really didn’t have much patience left with them and craved something finer. After a botched start, I got impatient (it happens) and promptly sent the whole batch of wool down to my daughter, who loves grey, and quality yarns and whose sister was about to travel south to see her, yay, a good deed (enabler!). She’d just had a birthday, too, what a good excuse… Needless to say, said daughter promptly cast on and whoosh, soon had the best part of a really useful cardigan sorted – except she ran out of yarn on the button bands 😮 Did I say, the yarn is discontinued? I feel so guilty.

Therefore, back to the thin needles. Having discovered the knitting podcasts (look back a couple of posts) and being susceptible to suggestion, my halo was shining as I dug out some stash that had been hanging around for a while. Drops Baby Alpaca and Silk was sold for an embarrassingly low price AND a discount for ages (and even though the price has now risen it is still a more than reasonable buy and a wonderful fibre) and I’d thoughtfully bought three “sweater’s worth” – only it’s so fine you can practically get two sweaters out of each colour… This time I chose the icy blue (also already mentioned in the last post) and set about Waterlily by Meghan Fernandes on 3mm needles, a light spring top with short dropped sleeves and a lace yoke that seemed just right – plain and mindless for ages and then a pretty and simple lace over the shoulders. I took it to Stuttgart with me and knitted happily for hours. Soft, soothing and utterly content.

Then a message came from one of my enablers. A request for some extra-wide socks for a pair of swollen feet. Well, what choice did I have?! 🙂 A quick visit to the town craft shop (be still my beating heart… every craft you can imagine is represented at Idee) and the low price of generic yarn (plus it’s a different currency and always seems cheap, right?) meant I came away with sparkly, fluffy yarn for the socks in beige and more of the same in pink because I knew my granddaughter was coming to visit and might like something out of it (come on, pink and silver? Every 5 year old’s dream!). But wait, there was also a lovely, thicker variegated sock yarn in great colours, and what if I made some of those simple soft, stretchy slippers, too – another podcast influence. Done. The sparkly, fluffy yarn turned out to be a great success – there was far more of it than I’d bargained for, so a single skein made a pair of the required socks, while the other made a generous cowl for my mother-in-law’s sensitive neck, while although my granddaughter showed not the least interest in the pink yarn, my eldest daughter noticed both colours with “that look” in her eyes and promptly inherited the pink but also got more of the beige the next time I was in Stuttgart lol. img_7679

Ah yes. I had to return to Stuttgart. So why not take advantage? Those slippers had been so quick and easy to knit, surely a couple more pairs in the other tempting colourways would be a quick inbetween sort of project? Go on. Plop. Plop. A greeny colour for me, a blue version for my youngest daughter. Done. But look, the generic wool selection includes some other plain sock yarns that are very well priced – haven’t I been wanting some thicker, red socks for ages? Plop. And that grey and yellow – gosh, wouldn’t it be fun to have some that match my new hat? Plop. (Turned out there is actually enough left from my hat so now I have double the amount of yarn in the same colours – I suffer.) Oh look, they’ve all been raving about speckled yarns and that peachy-pink sock yarn would make a change, wouldn’t it?! What, sale to sell?! Take 2. Plop. That grey alpaca is soooo soft, and only one ball left, perfect for a pair of wristlets? Plop. Oooh, they’re selling off the pompoms with the spring stock sitting waiting for its space on the shelf – yes, one for my friend, it’s “her” colour, and why not, one for me… And so it goes. Blush. img_7775

As if that wasn’t enough, more enablers got to me. Both those dratted podcasts and my darling daughter unintentionally paraded various yarns across my mind’s eye. I wondered vaguely if they were available in Switzerland (oh the rabbit hole of the internet…) and lo and behold, click click, I had not only ordered two lots of yummy British wools – because I’m loyal like that – but also needed to support some of the very few local producers here in Switzerland, which has a long tradition of silk production. I might also have bought a Latvian mitten kit… And some minis. Pardon, what? img_7759Blacker Yarns Tamar in colourway “Tiddy Brook” – I was expecting spring yellow but it’s a superfresh bright light green, which is fine…img_7761Spinnwebstube sold me a Latvian yarn kit in one of my favourite colourways as well as an irresistible set of merino minis produced, spun and dyed in Switzerland – haven’t a clue what I will do with them, yet – a trend I have cluelessly followed 😮

The other parcel held silky hand-dyed Swiss silk-merino – one for a friend (of course!) one for me, and why, look, it’s a Valentine’s Day special, individually dyed… Add to this a trip to the actual local yarn shop for buttons where a couple of sock yarns jumped completely suicidally onto the counter (in addition to the boxful that has already accumulated…) and I should be set for life. img_7767Baa Ram Ewe’s Titus is a beautiful Yorkshire yarn (my grandparents were both from Yorkshire is my excuse!) – a blend of 50% Wensleydale Longwool, 20% Bluefaced Leicester and 30% UK alpaca and in the colour White Rose, which my Granny truly was! The Swiss Siidegarte (silk garden) yarns are hand-dyed with plant dyes: Fideel in Valentine and Hasleriis – the latter I assume is dialect for hazelnut (it’s a different dialect to the one we speak). There is a blog in English at https://www.siidegarte.ch/blogs/news. img_7788

Unblocked and not at the best angle at all but I was so delighted with the result! I’ll have to do a better photo… img_7855

Again, unblocked, but I love it and I was surprised how the blue pops – I hadn’t expected this either from the skein or the wound ball! img_7852The colour has photographed badly in the winter light, as it’s a very definite icy blue, no grey about it… this is the Waterlily top by Meghan Fernandes in Drops Baby Alpaca Silk and I’m extremely pleased with it! This one is blocked, but I need to make icord across the back neck for stability as the original solution in the pattern didn’t work for me.

To be fair – the Shetland hat is finished. The seasonal Unicorn winter wool Constellate hat is finished. The Waterlily top is very nearly finished – that is, blocked but needs the back neckline adjusting. The alpaca mitts are nearly finished. New socks are on the needles (ahem, a free pattern, Hermione’s Everyday Socks, I keep seeing on the podcasts…). The Tamar had a couple of false starts because I found I don’t like the fabric on the suggested needles so it’s developing in a different direction. The Titus has plans – and is so yummy I’m wondering if I shouldn’t get more (slap me).

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