One of my biggest struggles — as a knitter — is keeping my stash organized, both physically and logistically. I mean, I know I should stay on top of entering new acquisitions into Ravelry, but it’s easy to get sidetracked, isn’t it? And when I’m looking through new projects, I’m thinking about what I have in my stash that I can use so I can cast on immediately and jump right in. This is my cycle: Whenever I travel to a new city, I usually visit a local yarn shop to see what’s up, and before you know it, I’ve found something I can’t leave without and it basically just follows me home (obviously not my fault). Once I get back, I put it in a pile to log it, photograph it, and then (god willing I actually get to this point) I finally put it with the others — usually to discover that I had something very similar in my stash already. But how would I know this? I have yarn stashed in boxes, bags, and bins in three different places in my house.

It was time to make a change.

In March, my online knitting friends decided they all needed to clean up their stashes as well, so we dubbed the effort March Stashness and got to work. I pulled yarn out of all the places it had been squirreled away, verified the yarn that was in Ravelry, and the yarn that still needed to get added. For the month of March, we organized, cataloged, photographed and stashed our yarn, loading it all into Ravelry, filling in the missing bits of information and, at the end of the month, we were all feeling mighty proud of ourselves. It’s a great feeling when your stash is actually organized in Ravelry; you can sort by weight, base, dyer; you can easily put colors together for projects and, weirdly, it motivates you to knit more things. But it’s not enough to have your stash sorted digitally; sometimes you really have to see the yarn, feel the fiber, discover how colors play together in the same light so that you know you have the perfect skeins for the project. I, for one, am a sensory knitter — I want to knit with colors that speak to me, and there’s nothing as disappointing as choosing colors from a computer screen only to find out when you get the skeins together that the pixels have deceived you. So it became clear I would need to figure out how to create physical organization too.

Over the summer, my knitters decided we should do another stash cleanup, so Stash of July was launched. For this effort, I decided to get my project room organized once and for all: I bought an IKEA 5 x 5 KALLAX shelving unit and had it delivered. It took me the better part of a night to build it by myself (I do these insane things whenever TheCop is away; it’s just easier for so many reasons) and the next day I started to fill it up, loosely organized by weight (laceweight on the left, increasing to worsted and bulky on the right). The top row is specifically for ESK yarns (I referenced my mixed feels for limiting Yarnathon projects to only ESK yarn in an earlier post).

I don’t have everything here yet, but I’ve noticed an immediate difference: since there’s actually a place to put it, now new yarn comes into the house and gets photographed, cataloged, and put on the shelf within a day or two. It’s easy to see what I have and to shop my own stash instead of buying something new online (which both my wallet and TheCop greatly appreciates). It finally dawned on me that I was failing because I needed both a method of tracking my stash along with a method of storing my stash in order to see what I have and get excited about why I bought the yarn in the first place. I mean, my project room might look like a LYS but hey; if I’m shopping it, then that works, right?

I can’t wait to see what I do for Declutter December.

In January, I did something against my better judgement. I joined some online friends in participating in Yarnathon, EatSleepKnit’s yearlong gamified knitting event. This is my first year of participating; I watched my friends working on it last year and I’ll admit I did have a bit of FOMO as I lurked in the Yarnathon channel. It’s been a bit of a struggle to catch on, since most of these knitters have done it for many years running, but I’m managing. It’s got enough different ways of earning points, yardage, and badges that it pretty much offers something for everyone from flash challenges and year long challenges to stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new skills. The technologist in me can really appreciate the gamification of knitting but I have to admit, the knitter in me chafes at some of the rules of the game. What’s even more interesting to me are the things I’m learning about myself, nine years into knitting as a past time.

  • I do like knitting with small groups, but not big ones.
  • I don’t like starting projects if I don’t know at the outset what it will look like.
  • I do like being challenged — but when I get to choose the challenge.
  • I do like buying yarn.
  • I don’t like being forced to buy yarn.
  • I do like having check ins on big projects — but to keep me on task, not to win a prize.
  • I do love spreadsheets.
  • I don’t like random knitting deadlines. There’s already enough of them in real life.
  • Finally, I really resent not being able to knit the projects I want in the yarn I want.

I think, all in all, that last one is what frustrates me the most. All Yarnathon projects must be knit with yarn purchased from ESK (who, as a random aside, has an amazing kickass invoicing system that does an unbelievable job of tracking your purchases. Seriously, it’s awe inspiring). Don’t get me wrong — I get that this event is a lot of effort throughout the year and I also acknowledge that for a small yarn shop, there’s always got to be a way to leverage the games to their advantage. But I do get frustrated at not being able to use the readily available resources that I’ve already purchased over the years. The game gets you amped up to knit, and I’ve already got a lot of sweet yarn matched up to projects to knit, just waiting in the wings. I’d really love to be able to whittle down that list a bit, you know? I’ve also never been monogamous to a single store; instead I shop wherever I travel and purchase local yarn when I can. So yeah, my stash was a significant size before I ever decided to join the Yarnathon groupthink. But it got significantly bigger over the first couple of months, as I bought a not insignificant amount of yarn from them just to be able to participate. Maybe that’s just the entrance price you pay to join the game. But you know it’s craziness that I hit the 10K yard mark on my birthday — which is in mid-January. Enough said, and nobody breathe a word of this to TheCop or I may have to kill you. #manslaughterismessy

Overall, I’ve come to realize I knit when I feel like knitting, on projects I want to knit. I don’t knit just to hit some benchmark; I knit because I enjoy the process of creating and the journey along the way. It’s taken me a while to figure out how to best play the game but, now that I’ve learned more about why I knit and what sort of projects I gravitate towards, I’m able to do a better job of balancing between Yarnathon projects and non-Yarnathon projects. I’ve learned I’m pretty good at making projects qualify for multiple badges (great ROI on my effort!); but I can also easily get caught up in the yardage race (not such a great ROI on my wallet. Repeat after me, Robin: “YOU DO NOT NEED MORE YARN”). It’s also getting easier to take a break and work on something just because I want to, and not because it will earn a badge. The nicest thing is, I have friends that help me when I need it and offer a wealth of knowledge to draw upon. That’s probably what I love most about the challenge, and that has nothing to do with spending money. Just knitters being knitters, yo.

Game on.

Last week saw me finally complete 100 blocks of my Hue Shift afghan. Woohoo!

My greens and creams Hue Shift blanket in a pile on my coffee table.Love the color, love the pattern, love, Love, LOVE it.

Let me just say that last column was a study in tension and nerves of steel. I knew going into this project that yardage would be a bit of a mystery because I was using worsted and the pattern was written for sport or DK. All Ravelry research told me that no matter what you use, odds are that you’ll be waaay too close to the end of your skeins, which is why I went with Dream In Color for most of the colors — at 250 yds a skein, it was the best buy. Because I was trying to get a specific range between light and dark, I also used Madelinetosh Vintage (200 yds), Malabrigo Rios (210 yds) and Mrs. Crosby Steamer Trunk (165 yds HOLY CRAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!?) all of which I had to buy two skeins right at the start. I didn’t start weighing my skeins until after the 6th or 7th column but, as predicted, it was close.


Before the last row.


After the last row.


Despite my learning curve and the occasional effed up stitch, I’m a very happy camper with it. I debated quite a bit on whether or not to put a border on it but, in the end, adding a border won out for the very practical reason that I wish the afghan was just a bit bigger. I figured a two inch border should do the trick.

Unfortunately, there’s always a hiccup in the plan, and this hiccup was that I don’t like the look of the border the pattern tells you to use. I wanted a simple mitred corner garter stitch border. How hard was that really?

Yeeeeaaaah. Turns out, it’s harder than you’d think when you start trying to figure out the mechanics of it. Remember, garter stitch requires you to turn your project over and go the other way. Try as I might, I couldn’t suss out how to make this work the way I wanted it to. But folks, Google and TECHknitter — bless her awesome heart! — is your friend. She knew there’d knitters like me searching for how to knit garter stitch in the round and she points us to this post by Fleegle wherein I could find the easy answer to the very problem that stymied me:

Use two skeins.

IMG_9192I am gobsmacked by it’s simplicity and, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you it works like a charm. Absolutely BRILLIANT. Which is good that it’s easy, because after picking up 1,000 stitches for the border, it currently takes me a bit over an hour and a half to get around this afghan ONCE. Which means 3.5 hours for a single garter ridge. Which, given that my gauge here is 1″ = 6 ridges, translates to 39 straight hours of fun and frolic.

I think I’ll be at this for a very long time.



Edited to add: I’ve culled some interesting resource bits and pieces on garter stitch edges, and thought it might be useful to list them here — at least until the links break.

Tidy Garter Stitch Edges

Knitting a [blanket] border I’m in love with the Rachael Rabbit’s Continuous Cable Border Pattern, listed here.

My Blankets & Borders & Colors Pinterest board is great place to find ideas and inspiration for both borders and blankets.



Hello? *tap tap tap* Is this thing on?

So hey. How’s it going? *cue nervous laughter* It’s been a while forever, I know. There’s no real excuse other than when I consolidated blogs, I fully intended to start this back up but it just sort of got lost in the shuffle. I’ve had a hard time consistently blogging over the last few years. Yes, there’s been stuff going on but lately I’ve noticed I just don’t seem to be getting traction — anywhere. There’s been a lot of false starts and general idling and a severe lack of follow through on my main blog. Much of this is probably due to the fact that I use my writing to process my shit, and there’s just been a bit too much shit lately. I’ve been wondering if I’m just feeling too much pressure to perform, you know?

But I have been knitting. Consistently, methodically, habitually knitting. I’ve also noticed I’ve been consistently posting on Instagram. Stories about my life. Stories about my knitting. Stories about my dog. And it seems to me that maybe this is a perfect case of finding the middle ground in my life rather than focusing on the extremes. Focusing not on perfection, but on simply getting something into the world to see the light of day, warts and all. So yeah, I’m not customizing my WP theme, and I’m not going to make sure all my pictures are pretty. Because that’s where the pressure lurks to make things shiny. I may get around to eventually updating the header image to a more yarny-type shot, but I’m gonna try to be cool and go with the flow. As Ze Frank points out,

Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes but he’s a little bit of an asshole, and no one invites him to their pool parties.

So yeah. Let’s not think of this as a stepping stone to other things; let’s just think of it as the beginning of something. And if you happen to be feeling stagnant too, then welcome! I offer you companionship on this journey. Maybe we can help each other to move forward and find our purpose once again. Even if we just have some fun with the process, then that will be well worth the effort of “good enough.”

My pencils are sharp enough. Even the dull ones will make a mark.

Warts and all. Let’s start this shit up.