Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Being on a yarn diet, I am realising, is much like being on a food diet. I have not been on a food diet for a long time and never wish to be again, but when I was a teenager I remember trying one or two obscure diets involving grapes and pinapple and the like. How little fun that was beyond reading the recipes and buying the food... What I recall most vividly from those times is the phantasizing about food. I used to lie in bed at night, not thinking about my latest celebrity crush but about cake. And chocolate. And pork crackling. And crisps. And cheese.

It didn't seem right to me to think about food that obsessively. That is not to say that I don't care about food. I LOVE food, and I spend quite a bit of time thinking about it too. But for food to replace your latest teenage crush in your thoughts? That's just wrong.

Also, the excuses you come up with to justify why it is OK to break your own dieting rules, why you are allowed this particular piece of chocolate cake or why food eaten on the go does not count or has any calories.

See, with yarn, it's kind of similar. I have found myself looking longingly at other people's purchases and leafing though pattern books, looking for the next project that might justify buying more yarn. I am toying with the idea of more knitted xmas gifts, despite the fact that I will be hard pressed to finish the ones I have already planned, simply to have an excuse to browse online yarn shops. And in the process, I have come up with a set of lame excuses and exceptions to the yarn diet, which, judging from the responses to my post about being on the diet, are not only my particular feeble excuses but universal truths! ;-)

1) It is always OK to add to your stash if the yarn is a gift.

2) Buying yarn for presents is always allowed, no matter if the yarn itself is meant to be a present or if you are planning on knitting a gift with it.

3) Buying yarn on holiday is allowed - after all, you might never get a chance to buy that particular yarn ever again!

4) Rescuing yarn from a bad home (even if that is a shop) is a good deed. You are taking pity on the poor fibre after all. ;-)

5) Buying yarn from money you have accrued in your Paypal account is OK. You have sold something so you are allowed to buy something... Never mind that the money you'd earned was meant to pay for groceries and the like.

6) Buying yarn because you are exposed to it for an unreasonable amount of time - say because you are waiting and are thus subjected to the temptation and can't get away - is acceptable. After all, being surrounded by pretty yarn for hours and not being able to buy at least some is unnecessary cruelty, isn't it?

Edited to add some more reasons, suggested in the comments:

7) Good deeds - brought to my attention by donyale: one should not forget to think of the poor LYS owners who need to live too! Isn't xmas supposed to be the season of good will and deeds, after all? That should justify all yarn purchases made at local yarn shops.

8) As tabbytuxedo points out, yarn that is aquired through yarn swaps could not possibly count! After all, it's not strictly speaking 'bought' yarn, is it?

9) And a final one from Mary Lou: it is always OK to add to the stash if by doing so, you are going to be able to use it in combination with some stash that you already possess to create a new FO.

On that note, I have been thinking about the baby cardigan I want to knit for my friend K's xmas child. She knows that she is going to have a little boy, so I have been searching around for cute baby patterns for boys - not as easy as I thought! Finally I happened across this:

Cute, isn't it? It's from the Jaeger Baby Pattern book (JB29). I love the pattern, and if I use the same colour it's neutral enough to be worn by a little baby boy, don't you think? But is the pattern too frilly?

The yarn that is used is Jaeger Baby Merino 4ply, which is machine washable, so it's ideal. And it means I will be able to buy some yarn!! Yay! ;-)

Other than that, I have been busy spinning and knitting. The day before yesterday I finally finished spinning and plying the Alpaca that I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Ally Pally. Here it is, 250g of Alpaca goodness, three large skeins. I think it will kit up as 'chunky':

Spinning this fibre has been an odd experience. The fibre length seemed longer than anything else I'd ever spun, but that might just be my impression because it had no crimp in it at all and had a texture that was uncannily like human hair. Unlike wool, it has no tendency to stick together, so it felt like I was trying to spin a bunch of my own hair... Very strange. It must be the total lack of crimp. This also means that the fibre ended up all over my clothes - no problem of it sticking to my pullover at all! ;-)

The resulting yarn is a little uneven, but it is beautiful and soft, with a little halo. I am quite happy with the result, and what looked like a rather small clump of Alpaca yielded quite a bit of yarn. Now what should I make with it? A scarf and hat set? I would love to do a pullover, but I fear that 250g may not be enough for it, even if I use quite large needles...

I have now started spinning the orange Corriedale that my Secret Pal sent me. Let me tell you, this is the most wonderful stuff. It feels and spins like butter, with minimal effort and amazing evenness.

So far I have spun half of it and have started spinning the rest of it on a new bobbin, because I am not sure yet if I want to ply the yarn together or instead ply it with something else to make it go a bit further. Maybe orange plied with yellow? On the other hand, I love the vibrancy of the burnt orange colour, so I am reluctant to 'dilute' it by plying it with a different colour. So many decisions.

Yesterday, I also finally dragged out all the different pieces of fabric that I have collected over the months, so I can make a final decision what I will use to make the bags that I want to give to some of my friends for xmas. Doesn't it look pretty?

What else... Oh yes, the socks. The socks I was knitting for the Socktoberfest. Never mind that October is over, I SHALL FINISH THESE SOCKS!

Anyway, remember me saying that I was concerned that the socks were turning out a bit wide for me? Well, I have since decided that they were definitely too wide. See, I had started them on 2.5 mm needles, although the pattern called for 2.25 mm. What difference can 0.25 mm make, I thought... well, it turns out that they can make quite a difference. I have since frogged everything, ordered the correct size circs, and have started again. I am about as far as I was before I decided to frog, but the difference is noticeable, not only in the width of the sock but also in how long it takes me to knit. Although it doesn't look any different I have actually completed one repeat more than I had before, yet when i pull the sock on it looks just the same as attempt no. 1 did. 0.25 mm - who would have thought!

As for the Greek Pullover - the knitting part of it is finished (except the i-cord), but I am having a bit of trouble with the chiffon ruffles that go on the end of the sleeves and the bottom edge of the pullover. Tried to find some chiffon yesterday in our local hobbycraft market, but no such luck. I could order over the internet, but then I couldn't see the colours properly and as I am still unsure if the yarn I used is black or actually a very dark blue I really need to see what the fabric and the yarn look like together... Maybe I will make it to some different yarn shops at some point this week.

And finally, I want to thank you all for the beautiful and thoughtful comments you left regarding my last Lost and Found installment. I was truly touched by the response to this very personal and important photograph and I continue to be amazed and gratful for the wonderful people I have met since starting this blog. Thank you.

PS: Self Portrait Tuesday entry to follow later.


  1. Anonymous12:16 pm

    Wow - what a post - I love that Orange Corridale....that is one lovely photograph

    My only concern about your Yarn Diets Justifications was that you forgot one very important item.

    You must remember that LYS owners are poor poor people and never have enough money to buy , um, yummy food like Roasts and (what colour was that Broccoli), um, veggies and you are doing your civil duty by purchasing from them so they can, um, cook yummy roasts....

    Or something like that....whatever works I say, just hide it from the husband...."what new yarn? that? no, I've had that for ages"...

  2. Anonymous12:37 pm

    what a long post... love the spinning.

    re yarn diet. i confidently told the other knitter in the house on saturday that i was not going to buy anymore yarn until after the new year. what did i do on sunday.... buy more yarn. hopeless.

  3. Your yarn purchase justifications are spot-on! ;-)
    I love the pattern for the cardigan, but would feel that the edging is too frilly for a boy. Would it be easy enough to not have the edging??
    Love the new banner and the ORANGE yarn!!

  4. Yikes Iris.

    Dont let that alpaca put you off spinning it !!!

    It sounds like you got some of the peruvian stuff, thats bred to death with 0 crimp being retained in the breeding, the best parts of the fleece get turned into lux designer sweaters & such and the rougher parts get processed and sold as hand spinning quality, but its rubbish, the stuff outa be burned !

    The alpaca i have is as crimpy as maby even more so than corriedale, tis long, 3 to 4inches staple length and as soft as new baby skin.

    You need to get it in fleece form from the breeder, the difference blows your socks off.


    Whos just about finished spinning dolly.

  5. I've got another excuse to add to your list. If you organize a swap with someone for yarn, it's not breaking the yarn diet. (I've done this about 3 times in the past week.)

  6. ... and a further excuse for your list (if you should need one!) ...

    it is always OK to add to the stash, if by doing so, you are going to be able to use it in combination with some stash that you already possess to create a new FO. This is the beauty of odd-ball knitting(!) - obviously you have 5 balls that you just know want to be a particular garment, but you actually need 8 to complete it, so you have to find something that tones/contrasts/whatever. the only condition is that you must actually be going to use those 5 balls, not merely considering it ...

    Does this help??

  7. WOW! Look at all the lovely yarn and fiber! Alpaca is gerat for spinning, you'll get the hang of it. Makes lovely yarn, socks, baby items, next to the skin. (just remember to blend it with wool or something alpaca has no memory and it will grow on you.) Great spinning! now whats a yarn diet!?? ;o))))

  8. Anonymous2:26 am

    Um...about that orange corriedale. I'd always meant to spin it, but so far haven't done a thing with it. Of course, I'm currently fixated on spinning silk on my spindle when I actually have time to spin (it's been a while). Since you're actually spinning it instead of looking at it (fabulous, btw), I might know where some more of the wool is hiding ;-)

    Your Secret Pal

  9. Gorgeous spinning, lovely fabric and am narked you have managed to avoid that whole droopy chin thing that is happening to me. It's a good portrait and I have a cardi like that too.

  10. Anonymous3:21 am

    orange spinning
    and amy butler patterns and fabrics
    in the same post-
    you are SO on my blog reading list now, glad to find you. :)

  11. Anonymous2:09 pm

    I LOVE the orange Corridale. Ok...so I'm a few posts back...but I enjoy reading your blog.

    Have a wonderful weekend....
    Your Super Secret Knitting Pal

  12. Love the blog! I'm not sure about the cardigan for a little boy, though. I personally think it's a bit on the frilly side.