How big the stash?

I might have mentioned there was a yarn audit going on recently. Turns out I have 160 different types of yarn comprised of 200 untouched balls/skeins and around 50 “too big to be called thrums” leftovers from previous projects.

It feels about the right size for me. Enough that I won’t have to run out to get matching colours for the weft-only yarns, and enough that I can’t possibly get bored!

The funny, and maybe a little sad, thing was discovering just how many of my stash yarns have been discontinued. Now, some companies keep things fresh with short-run fancies etc and that makes perfect sense, but I was surprised at the range that have passed into stash-history over the 2.5 years I’ve been weaving!

I often buy a single ball of a yarn, but maybe I should buy more in future? Maybe not…the upside of just one ball is I mix yarns a lot more and have to be creative in their use! Which of course suits me perfectly.

The plan now is to never have to audit my yarn again (it took days!) and just update my trusty spreadsheet as I use yarn and, well, buy more, because we all know that’ll happen!!

Another strange discovery in this process was that some yarn stores are bad at recording what they’ve sold you. I appear to have 2 balls of a very expensive yarn for free (!) and there were other cases where I was charged for the wrong thing though the price was close enough. I should probably stop making small talk with the staff while they ring-up my purchases…

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Lunchbox project: I made dishcloths

I know I said this project mightn’t involve weaving, but you know how it is when you have yarn… in this case a bright and cheerful acrylic vari that was originally used to knit a scarf.

I can’t even remember why that project was a failure, but I pulled the whole lot back and was left with squiggly yarn:

ball of yarn

That was ages back and then I got thinking it’d make nice dishcloths, because it’s chunky (12ply), colourful and acrylic. Now, a lot of people prefer natural fibers for dishcloths but, as this is for the office, I want it to dry quickly and acrylic is good for that!

I had enough warp for 3 so I’m well supplied now. Though you can only see one facing here, this is the whole lot still all one piece, drying on the line:

dishcloth drying on the line
With hemstitching and a few rows of PW each end, I decided to texture the middle of the cloth with a pick-up stick pattern

I wanted more scrubbing power, so I did a 2 ends up, 2 ends down pattern with an offset, divided by 2 picks of PW (image above shows the reverse).

The pattern opened up the web nicely and I think it’ll make for a better cloth for my purposes. It also looks nice with this vari – kind of amps up the chaos of the colours crossing themselves – and I want chaos, because it’ll hide stains, wear etc.

My only worry is they’ll be a bit fluffy, as it is a soft acrylic. I’m going to throw them in the machine a few times before I start using them to “wear them in”.

Dishcloths for work… Tick!

I’ll report back on how they go in use… But that’s the first lunchbox item done!!

Weaving colour #6

This post is about complimentary colours and the name kind of gives it away… they complement each other! But which colours are complementary? Take a look at a colour wheel and draw a straight line from one edge, through the centre to the other edge and it’ll run through two colours. This pair sitting opposite each other on the wheel and are complementary.

So if you have a lovely orange-red yarn, what is opposite orange-red on the wheel? Green-blue.

colour wheel

The trick with using complementary colours is that just because they go together doesn’t mean you should do a 50/50 split between the two. In fact complementary colours work best if you use more of one and just a little of the other.

For example, if you’re designing stripes you might want to do thick stripes in one and thinner or fewer stripes in the other. But sometimes the yarn companies do the work for you, like where you have a yarn with a colour fleck in it, those are often complimentary to the base colour of the ply.

I like complimentary colours, because the right mixture of them always feels lively to me!

Visual texture!

I’ve been busy remembering how to photograph scarfs and so I now have some shots to share of both my new fav pattern and that “rustic” (aka kinda scruffy) felted one from last year…

Brown and black patterned scarf
The new favourite pattern as modeled by my dummy… yep I still love it!

If you remember, this one had spacers when woven, and you can see it in how the weft is paired, but the overall result is this loose, raggedy texture which I find easy on the eye. I’ve also made my peace with what hot-felting did to the colours!

Blue and purple felted scarf
The felted scarf in all its textural glory

Next to be seen in the shop. Probably shouldn’t cause me as much excitement as it does…

Getting perspective on my Etsy shop

I’ll admit I haven’t given my Etsy shop the love it deserves. Quite a bit of that comes from having launched it and then had an immediate “why am I doing this?” moment. You see I got a bit caught up in the flattery of my friends who were all “you should sell these!” about my scarfs.

What got lost somewhere in this was what led me to weaving in the first place; making things for other people. Specifically, I was knitting scarfs for charities.

So I started examining what I’d done by turning my weaving into a little business and that’s had me questioning questioned everything, including whether Etsy is the right place anymore for small shops, because:

  • it’s full of cheap, mass produced scarfs that don’t attract shoppers willing to pay for handmade items
  • Etsy is a noisy marketplace now too, so it’s hard to know how to be found

Having said that, it doesn’t cost much to run a little business there and takes very little effort. Both valuable to someone who works full time and writes novels.

At the end of all my musings, I realised that the shop brings a valuable positive to my weaving life… you see I chose a specific theme for my shop: handwoven items, all one of a kind from my loom.

No repeats. No colour variations. Unique items. And that pushes me to do more, explore more and challenge myself to create beyond trying patterns I like.

So, the shop is back up with some new stock and there are bunch of new ideas brewing in my weaver’s brain!

Lunch box project: Frugality and waste

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about “I have thousands of dollars of debt” type frugality in this post. For me it’s about not wanting to be “wasteful” with my money and saving more than I do now.

Which is how, late last year, I discovered that I was… well… accidentally frugal. You see, I had consulted the internet on how to be a better saver only to find I couldn’t give up the suggested behaviours because I don’t do any of them!

It was a weird feeling. I mean I know I’m a good saver, but I don’t budget etc so I’d assumed there was room for improvement. Turns out that buying meals is about the only worthwhile area I can cut back in (other than giving up yarn). So, if I want to be more frugal then I need to solve the lunch problem.

This got me thinking about waste too. I can replace my paper wrapped, paper bagged sandwich from the shop with a paper wrapped, paper bagged one from home… but isn’t that a missed opportunity?

On work days, I’m definitely contributing to the vast amount of paper waste we create. And there’s no way that what I put in the recycling bin at work gets recycled – there’s just too much contamination (mostly take-away coffee cups) – so I don’t even have that to fall back on!

This is where the craft aspects come in. For the cleaning issues, I’m going to make myself some dish cloths and tea towels for the office. For eating, I’m going to start with some cloth napkins. It mightn’t involve weaving (we’ll see!) but it will definitely be a re-use, up-cycling thing. Exciting!

This is my new favourite pattern!

One of my favourite patterns I’ve woven so far is the classic log cabin, but it has a rival for my affections now!

You don’t get the full loveliness in this pic – it’s best seen by moving away from the screen a bit – but it’s elegant and… I like it a lot.

black and brown pattern on the loom

Can’t wait to wash it and see how it fulls.