A Pact

Christy and I have been talking about festival knitting. You know, actually knitting the stuff I buy at the festivals.
In years past I’ve been terrible about this. The stash gets bigger and bigger, and I have less FOs to show for it. I’ve given this some thought (quite a lot, actually), so you can read the full scoop in the extended entry.

After a little introspection I’ve decided:
I buy better than I used to
When I first got back into knitting, I’d buy a sweater’s worth of yarn just because I liked the color. No real project in mind, and with no regard for how available it would be if I waited until I needed it.
I’ve amassed many sweaters-worth of yarn, and really, there are only a couple that I have a long-term interest in (the coned cashmere from School Products comes to mind). I may not use either cone for another couple of years, but I know I’ll love whatever I make from it. The colors are classic (cream and gray heather) and there’s enough for a variety of projects. I don’t regret buying them one bit.
But there are several purchases I regret.
There’s this mohair I got on eBay. The seller (from Turkey) offered to refund the money after I sent the yarn back to him, at my expense. It all seemed like too much of a hassle, and in the end I could have been left with no yarn AND no money. So I kept it. I showed him alright. I now have 20 balls of this stuff and no plans for it.
And yeah, I mentioned that I might dye it in the post I linked to. I seriously doubt I will. I get annoyed every time I see the yarn. I just don’t think I’ll ever enjoy the yarn.
Other times, it wasn’t a bad yarn purchase, but rather a bad fashion choice for me. For example, the Snowflakes and Arrows vest. Love the look, but I’m unsure about its look on me. When it comes to different shapings, I can always drape some fabric or shawls to mimic the shape to see what I think it’ll look like on me. But that doesn’t work for colorwork. I’m too unsure about how this vest would look on me to make it. That didn’t stop me from buying the yarn for it though.
There are lots others I could share, but it’s more of the same — no forethought, bad project, bad yarn choice.
It was nice to hear Christy say the same thing to me this weekend. Maybe it’s a process that some knitters go through? The good news is that I don’t do this any more. I generally buy stuff I like and can use and can envision made up into a particular project.
I *love love love* to buy sock yarn
If there was a Sock Buyers’ Anonymous I would be a card-carrying member.
You all know the story — the handdyed colorways I could never wear as a sweater, the luxurious fibers that would cost a fortune to buy in large quantities, the ease in which it slips into the stash with barely any evidence that you bought more, the relatively inexpensive nature of the yarn compared to bigger projects, the one-of-a-kind lure that makes you snap it up right now.
It’s no wonder that sock yarn was at practically every booth at Rhinebeck.
I knit a lot, I just don’t focus
This one isn’t new, but it’s worth restating. All too often I allow myself to switch from new project to new project. If I only focussed a little more I’d have so many more FOs to show for it.
The Pact
Knit half of everything I bought at this year’s fests in time for MDSW.
That’s 6.5 months for lots of socks and possibly a few other projects, too.
I’m taking a few steps to make this successful:

  • I’ve added a tally of what I bought at MDSW and Rhinebeck this year to my side bar. As I knit things up I’ll cross them off. Who doesn’t like whiddling down a list?
  • Christy is doing this too (it was her idea) and we’ll motivate and keep each other on track. It’s good to have a friend that’ll say “Girl, get your act together” and she will. I invite all of you to do that too. Peer pressure is a great motivator.
  • I’m allowing myself to substitute something bought this year from something similar in the stash. So, if I use stash yarn for a pair of socks, that counts for one of the pairs I bought at a fest this year. The goal here is to not allow the stash to grow. So, if I buy something new and knit it, it doesn’t count.
  • I might try some of my sock yarn in a lacey shawl or scarf project. If I get bored with the socks it’ll be a nice switch, and there are so many pretty lace patterns out there.
  • I’m working on a Flickr gallery. Seeing everything all together is so motivating.

Cassie left a comment that she likes the idea but doesn’t think she could do it. I’m not sure either. But I’m giving it a try.
Why? Freely shopping at MDSW is a great motivator 😉

24 thoughts on “A Pact

  1. What an interesting post! After going to Rhinebeck, I’ve been thinking along the same lines. I’m learning not to buy things just because they look great in the skein. I have 800 yds of beautiful loop mohair yarn that I bought at MDSW that I haven’t used. The reason? I don’t wear really fuzzy sweaters. I need to think of something else to do with this, but haven’t taken the time yet. I think that I did much better at Rhinebeck, and I’ll be able to turn my purchases into actual FO’s.

  2. Yikes, I could cut and paste the first part of your post and put it on my own blog with only changing the particulars.
    I am managing to knit more from stash, but it hasn’t made any apparent change in my yarn buying habits. But like you, I’m acquiring better stash (including lots and lots of sock yarn).

  3. I think you’ll be successful because you have very achievable goals. And I think sock yarn lace is definitely the way to go, especially for slightly variegated yarns. I just got my new Sundara yarn and it is definitely shawl worthy.
    And from one SoSKAL-er to another, remember that it is a good thing to get rid of yarn you’ll never knit with. Give the mohair away. Release the guilt and give the yarn a good home. I am so much more comfortable with my stash now that I have edited out the losers.

  4. I’ve been working on nebulous versions of a plan like yours… Not having gone to Rhinebeck should help, but if I were going to try to play along, how would you count fiber stash? Would I have to knit with the fiber I bought at MDSW, or just spin it?
    (My problem with early stash is that I’d buy a skein or two, enough for a hat or wristwarmers or something, but not enough for a shawl or a sweater.)

  5. I have the same disease and could have written the same thing. I think there should be a pairing of more knitters who also suffer from knitting ADD.

  6. i never make it to MDSW (rhinebeck is my only festival) but i’m totally intrigued with this idea of keeping tabs on the stash, what i add to it, what i use, and eventually what’s made from it. sorta like the book blog that i keep to remind myself of all the books i read but can never remember two months later.
    i may have to create another backpack page for this!

  7. I like this idea a lot, and all of your points about motivators are so true.
    I did some stash management the other day and realized that I still have stuff from MDS+W 2005 that I haven’t touched (both yarn and fiber). Oops! [guess I’m lucky I couldn’t make it to Rhinebeck or MD this year]

  8. I’m loving the sidebar. I have less stashed from MS&W than you do– just the Brooks Duet and two skeins of sock yarn so I’m in slightly better shape.
    I’m considering a sidebar item.
    We can totally do this.

  9. Oh man, I agree with so much of what you’ve written here. I have like 20 skeins of mohair bought off elann because they were cheap and I thought it would be really versatile. Not only do I not like wearing mohair, I don’t like knitting it. It bothers me that it’s taking up room.
    If the first step is admitting you have a problem, then this post could be good for focusing. I used to buy yarn because I like the yarn… now there are more patterns that I want to make so I use those as my inspiration for purchases.
    Of course, this is from someone who’s just about to finish something with yarn from MDSW04, so I’m not really one to talk. :)

  10. I have mentally tried to do this last year (knit everything I got at MD one year before the next year) didn’t work….I am making a consicous effort to knit from the stash though, as I can’t knit socks fast enough to knit all I got at MD. 6.5 months! It’s not too far away!

  11. i completely can relate to your post. i have No Focus or ADD when it comes to projects and then i get all fuddled up when I’ve got no FO to show for because i’ve been spreading my time around to 5 different projects. I love your pact and perhaps will make one of my own! I’ve never been to MD… hmm an incentive!

  12. My mom and I do this with Hershey. Last year I totally flaked on that pact, but this year I’ve already finished one of the cross-stitch kits I bought at Hershey. So, GO ME!
    My only goal for Rhinebeck 07 is to finish another sweater. I mean, I’ll of course do socks and socks and more socks, but I’ve 1/3 of a sweater languishing in the stash. LET’S DO THIS!!!!!

  13. I understand where we all are coming from. There is so much wonderful wools out there, great prices, and almost a panic when something looks good but when we get it–we are underwhelmed to say the least. Buddying up with a friend to help you make wise purchases is a wonderful idea. Supporting one another “You know I really like the burgundy mohair on you, the sale puke yellow mohair is on sale for a reason.” is a wonderful remark a good friend can make. Your tastes are also going to change. As is your coloring. Trying various sock yarns and then doing socks because you love socks is wonderful. Can you make thick snowy winter socks with some of the yarn? Develop a new pattern? Go ahead a try, it is worth your time in creativity and adventure. Don’t like your mohair either trade it with someone who wants to get rid of a bundle of fingering weight or sockweight yarn. Can’t find that person why not dye it a color that comforts you. A loopy mohair can be knit on super size needles and be made a shawl. Don’t like it find someone who does. There are lots of us out there. You can also take a mohair yarn add a cotton slub and knit these together. Or make a wild animal or felted bag! I have tons of ideas and 43 clear plastic containers. I also have some serious concerns about the shear amount of yarn I have. I have further reservations about the upcoming stitches here in Baltimore. I want somethings, but you know, how much of this can I knit in a lifetime and who else will wear what I knit–not too many in my house, infact other than a sweater for hubby, a completed shawl for neices ring dance tonight not many people at all. One thing that I do is that periodically I cull my stash, (I feel it coming again) and I give to friends who can’t afford stitches, mds&w, rhinebeck and let them try really nice stuff and they knit for friends and family that they love. It goes to good use—eventually. Sorry for the long post. You all are great.

  14. I agree about using your stash from each festival before buying any more at the next one. I have yarn that I purchased on ebay years ago and have not had the time to knit. New yarns with new ideas seem to catch me and I end up knitting that rather than seeking yarn in my enormous stash that could be used for a yarn store. I will probably go to MDS&W festival in ’07, but will use more restraints with my purchases. Good luck with this endeavor and I keep reading.

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