A Frugal Knitter’s Guide to Stash Revamp

A Frugal Knitter’s Guide to Stash Revamp

I know I am not alone here… It doesn’t matter how awesome your stash is, there comes a time when you fall completely out of love which what you have and the urge to buy more yarn is a strong, strong siren song.

Am I right?

Now granted I am certainly not one to discourage some good ole’ stash acquisition therapy. Hell, I used to sell yarn…so, yeah, I love it when knitters buy yarn. But, I also do not like to see good yarn go to waste. So, today, fiberista, I am sharing with you my top 6 tips that will help you love your stash again without spending a bunch of money on more yarn.

1. Take inventory of what you have. Okay, I am not neccessarily talking spreadsheets, although spreadsheets are not a bad idea. Break out your entire stash. Pull it out of hiding and the WIP basket. Have it all in one place where you can see it. The dining room table, the floor. Anywhere you can see it all at once and all together. Stand back and take a good long look at you entire stash. There are a couple of things that will happen here. Either you will confirm your worst fears, and decide your stash needs a revamp. Or you might see that you really love your stash (and my work here is done…). Sometimes it just takes really looking at the whole picture.

2. Getting real about what is not working. Chances are, there is yarn in your stash that you are not loving anymore. Wrong colors, wrong texture. Just wrong. Pull that yarn out and set it aside. While you are at it pull out your absolute favorites. Because, here is the thing, sometimes bad yarn can look insanely awesome next to really good yarn. Bad yarn can be knit with good yarn to stretch the yardage for a project. Sometimes bad colors are a great contrast for good colors and actually make the good colors seem more vibrant.

3. Adding yarn alternative to round out colrway sets. So, maybe after looking all the yarn combo possibilities, some of them are still just not right. Is there any old clothing, or remnant fabric, ribbons or scarves that you can tear into strips to make yarn? Do any of these fabrics or ribbons bring the colors together a bit more? I know this step is kind of a long shot, but sometimes thinking outside or what yarn is suppose to be can spark new ideas.

4. Check the fiber content of your bad stash. If it is any kind of animal fiber, plant fiber, silk or nylon, it can be overdyed. Set that aside. I will cover overdyeing yarn in my upcoming dyeing classes. Sign up to get notice when those go live here.

5. If you are a hand spinner, use bad yarn for core spinning or plying. This is one of my favorite ways to repurpose yarn I don’t love. Let it be the back bone for all those yummy fibers in your art yarn.

6. Swap it. One knitter’s trash is another knitter’s treasure. Gather your knitting buddies for a yarn swap. Or check Ravelry for swap groups. If that yarn is just not working, then do not feel like you have to hang on to it. It may work for someone else.

Here’s the thing, don’t feel you have to hang on to yarn you do not love. It is stuck energy that will alway add stops to your creative inspirations. I know that may sound a bit dramatic, but if you are not loving your yarn, you are not loving the core of your work. So either bless your stash with new ideas or even new color, or bless another knitter with something you once loved but have outgrown.

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Creative Ways for Working with Handmade Yarn

Creative Ways for Working with Handmade Yarn

Working with hand dyed and handspun yarn can be a pain in the ass. I get it! When I was selling handed yarn it was the one question I was asked the most often…What can I make with this.

It is one thing to fall in love with an interesting yarn, an another thing altogether trying to find a patter that will work with it. And if the yarn is handmade chances are there is only a small amount of it. Maybe even not enough for much of a project.


For the last 10 years I have been studying ways to work with the handmade yarns that I love so much. It was a way to provide resources to my yarn customers. But it also is a way for right brain knitters/crocheters to find creative expression painting with yarn. I have written what I call anti-patterns that were created with handmade yarns in mind. So here are my best anti patterns, knitting theories and creative techniques to help you use your handpainted and handspun yarn into fiber art.

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 25: My Perpetual WIPs

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 25: My Perpetual WIPs

Merry Christmas Y’all! Today I am going to share with you just 3 projects. But these projects are what I consider the heart of my creative mojo. Is I had to point to the three projects that embody UrbanGypZ and where I am going with my work, this would the three. They are the most important of all the WIPs

So these three projects I am call my perpetual projects. These are projects that are kind of an ongoing study and what I consider the core of my fiber art body of work. These projects are rambling in the moment studies of color and texture, giving a nod to traditional needcrafts.

The Perpetual Weaving Project

This is what I am working on my sampleit loom. It is so rare that I set an intention for the fabric that comes off that loom. I find myself in the moment inch by inch when I weave with this loom. I think the fabric is better this way. Planning has me overthinking.

While I consider most of my yarn stash fair game for the weaving, I tend to keep most of my working stash for the weaving stuff in here. All the fun bits of yarn. My favorite fibers are in here. Weaving is my jam right now. I have some crazy big ideas I want to explore for 2017. THIS is my primary work these days.

 

The Perpetual Freeform Crochet Project.

This has been an ongoing study. Making a small freeform crochet medallion is so gratifying. And for the most part I have just been collecting these little gems. I will eventually put them together. I have found as with the weaving that the real magic comes when I am just in the moment with my yarn, working colors and textures. I LOVE this stuff. I am ready for them to finally come together into something more tangible. But for now I love filling up the stash with these little gems.

 

I Kind of Hate to Call This One Perpetual

I have been working this blanket for a while. I have even used it as a sample in my booth at the shows. Most of it is my hand dyed yarn. It really embodies my approach to combining colors. I have intentions to keep working it until it is large enough to be a bed blanket.

So there it is! these are my babies! Okay so tomorrow I am sharing my Spinning WIPs.

Joining me in the 31 Day Studio Awesome Challenge?

I am posting progress and info on setting up my studio over the next 31 days. I will not be blitzing my main email list daily…but if you DO want an email notice when daily posts go live, sign up here:

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 22: WIPs That Are Staying In The Project Basket

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 22: WIPs That Are Staying In The Project Basket

YAY!! welcome to the first day of Week of WIP flash.

Today I am sharing with you the projects that I consider my Works in Progress (WIP). These are the ones I intend to finish. No, really…

Okay, this post is gonna be picture heavy post. Because I have…

 

 

Wait for it…

 

 

 

24 WIPs on the needles. Egad.

And I am talking projects that are a hell yes, love the yarn, love the garment, ready to finish this right NOW. They meet all the criteria to make the cut and land back in my project basket right, next to the sofa in the studio. Queue the movies, let’s settle into some work.

So, without further adeu here they are…minus spinning, weaving, perpetual projects, and projects I am on the fence about…those posts will be coming later this week.

The Green Seed Stitch Sweater

I have been working on this sweater…no lie.. since 2004. Long enough for the yarn label design to have changed. It is all wool, miraculously a color I still like and really just lacking sleeves at this point. It is based on Sonnet from Knitty. and kind of a recreation of one of my absolute favorite sweaters of all time.

The Girly Kitten Sweater

This yarns is acrylic. It is actually an acrylic that is surprisingly soft and not at all bad to knit with. I think I picked it up at A.C. Moore. I wanted to make an easy to launder sweater in girly kitty like colors. Like a big snugly. This sweater is also based on the Sonnet pattern. I love the easy to knit one big sideways piece for the body, add sleeves.

The Bitterroot Shawls

I love this pattern. I was using it to make these samples for my booth (back when I was doing shows). I still love theses and intend to finish them even though I really do not need more shawls I don’t wear. I do, however need to spend an afternoon untangling the yarn.

The Cute As Hell Hippo

I NEVER make stuffed animals. But I just could not resist this insanely cute crochet hippo. I am using a bunch of my own hand dyed sock weight single ply. The instructions are 40+ pages long!! I am not sure I have all the pages. But once I spend an entire afternoon organizing and reprinting the missing pages, I am totally putting them in a binder.

The Handspun Awesome Shawlette

I snagged this alpaca/silk roving out of the shop and spun up this yummy lace weight yarn. I am not sure I even remember what pattern this is. I think I was working off an app on my ipad. I am also prepared to rip it back and start over if I need to. I know another shawlette I do not need. But I seriously can’t imagine this yarn as anything else.

Ooooo look another shawl...{**sigh**}

This pattern is from a Mirasol pattern booklet circa 2009ish which I am not seeing on Ravelry. I am using a Noro Kureyon, but in this weight and size may actually be a shawl I would wear.

The Japanese Tunic

I love working Japanese patterns. I fell in love with this one after seeing it on Ravelry. It took me months to track the pattern down. The yarn is another one of my hand dyed in a silk linen blend.

The Summit Shawl

I love love love this pattern. It is nothing short of pure engineering genius. A challenge to wrap my left brain around, but it is fairly easy to get into the rhythm. I want to finish it just because it is a joy to knit. The yarn is for Mirasol.

The Heathered Stripy Sweater

This sweater was an exercise in combining yarn and recreating one of my favorite sweater shapes. I am not sure I remember which sweater I was recreating…

Handspun Gauntlets

I am so close to finishing these. Both yarns are hand spun by me. The brown an alpaca, the colorful and merino bouclé. No pattern, just making it up as I knit.

The Jewel Dragon Scarf

I started this scarf this summer. It is another well engineered pattern. Challenging, but a joy to knit. Really looking forward to finishing this one. I am using yarn I from my friend Gale of Gale’s Art.

Clapotis

I love the Clapotis pattern. I am using some of my hand dyed single ply yarn.

Entrelac wrap

This is the second one of these I have made. I actually wear the other one quite a bit. I just need to add a ruffle around the edge and add a button. The yarns are a handspun alpaca merino silk blend and a merino single ply lace, both spun and dyed by me.

Japanese Boot Sock/Stir-up/Leg Warmer Thing

I am not sure if I will even wear these. But they have been crazy fun to make. From one of my Japanese pattern books I am not seeing on Ravelry, made from one of my hand dyed sock yarns.

Kiss the Sky Scarf

Another beautifully engineered pattern. Such an unusual stitch pattern, I look foreword to diving back into this one. Made with another of my hand dyed sock yarns

Another acrylic yarn project

And it is a crazy big afghan. It is based on the popular hexagon blanket from a Japanese pattern book. I wanted an afghan I would really use snuggled on the sofa with cats. With cats is code for it better be machine washable because they will inevitably puke on it. I don’t hat the yarn, but it is some what acrylicy.

The Portland Sweater

I love love love traditional looking cabled sweaters. And I bought this gigantic pile of no name Italian yarn from my favorite discount shop with a cozy cabled seater in mind. I am in the process of ripping back and starting over on this pattern because the gauge is off. I had a moment of panic this week when I could not find the majority of the yarn. I had no freaking idea where it was, the last time I remembered seeing it was two years ago at the old house. Spent about an hour tearing the studio, garage and hall closet apart looking in all the languishing boxes from our move. Was almost in tears once I finally found it. THIS is why I am organizing the hell out of the studio in the first place.

My Favorite Everyday Sweater

Another exercise in recreating a favorite sweater. This sweater was my everyday sweater for YEARS. It sprouted a giant hole a couple of years ago and my wardrobe has been at a loss ever since. I am determined to finish this one pronto. I am using an off brand yarn that I got at the annual fiber and equipment rummage sale held every year in Black Mountain, NC.

Slipper Sample

This project actually has a deadline and is next in the queue. I am testing out this yarn for the felted slipper class I am teaching next month. It felts weird, but I am thinking the way I calculate the numbers for the pattern will accommodate for that.

The Sophie Digard Inspired Shawl

I have been working on this for a couple of years too. It is inspired by Sophie Digard’s GORGEOUS work. I lost a pile of medallions in the move. Once I found them again, I realized I can actually see the finish line on this project!!

The Cat Bed

This is some of my first hand dyed yarn. And it is kind of ugly, but it is perfect for a cat bed. I am thinking I will continue making it once I change out the hideous metal needles. Because Kitty loves his hand make beds. Why I thought I needed a stitch counter for this, I have no idea.

The Hand Spun Sweater Experiment.

I pulled together several of my favorite hand spun two ply and decided I wanted to make a sweater based on a sweater in my closet that I love. I am game for continuing on, but I kind of think I am missing some yarn for this. I decided I did not like the stripe on the chest.

The Super Cool Mobius Lace Panel Hoody

This pattern was in Vogue Knitting ages ago. Let me just say that judging from the Ravelry page, it seems as if the pattern photo is not accurate to how this hoodie wears in real life. I love the construction, love the how this yarn knits up. I could have sworn I had started the front panel. And it seems like I am short some yarn. So we will see if I am even able to finish this.

The only scary plastic yarn I will knit

This is the only time I will ever suck it up and work with hideous acrylic yarn. We are talking don’t sit next to the fire because this will melt kind of yarn. This is a blanket my grandmother was working on. She passed before she finished it. And unlike me, she was a one project at a time kind of girl. She did have some stash which I inherited and in turn, found new homes for. But this project for what ever reason needed to be completed. I have a feeling I know why. So I am going to just suck it up and finish the last few rows, put it together and wait for the signs.

So there they are the 2 dozen that totally made the cut. Tomorrow we are gonna get a look at the ugly.

Joining me in the 31 Day Studio Awesome Challenge?

I am posting progress and info on setting up my studio over the next 31 days. I will not be blitzing my main email list daily…but if you DO want an email notice when daily posts go live, sign up here:

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 19: Yay progress on the WIPs and Stash

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 19: Yay progress on the WIPs and Stash

I am feeling good about the progress today despite the fact I was up late and stayed up late last night. Notions sorted, and organized (not much to purge, I suppose I have already purges many of them in the move). Yarn and WIPs being culled through. I am finding far fewer WIPs than I thought, I suppose I had gone through those during the move as well. GEEZ how in the hell did I forget doing all that purging. But even moving from the studio to the condo and condo to here, both times in a last minute crunch, I guess I had already taken the time to really assess what I realistically wanted to continue to knit, crochet and weave.

But now that I am here, even if we will only be here for a year, I feel like I am looking at the stash with new eyes. Some yarn I thought I would never let go of, I find I am ready. I had started to explore felt a little, and really am excited to dive a little deeper into that and more weaving. And sweaters. I have always intended to do a fleece to sweater project. I have even set aside a fin fleece a couple of years ago with the intention of making a cabled sweater.

And that is definitely one thing I am so ready to have in my business. Breathing room to do the work that fills me up. I love love love exploring fiber art, but keeping one foot rooted in traditional methods has always been my jam. It helps me find new ideas for the crazy creative work. For example, my weaving Beyond the Basics class was totally born out of old skool weaving methods reimagined with art yarn and modern equipment.

So yes, more of that.

So tomorrow I continue to sort through and organize the stash and WIPs. It is my intention to share those WIPs with you next week, not only because I love love love when people share with me what they are working on, it is going to help me catalog my projects.

Joining me in the 31 Day Studio Awesome Challenge?

I am posting progress and info on setting up my studio over the next 31 days. I will not be blitzing my main email list daily…but if you DO want an email notice when daily posts go live, sign up here:

How to Make Better Art

How to Make Better Art

I get it. It is overwhelming to follow the dream of being an artist. Let me start by dispelling that overwhelm.

You already are an artist.

As I have written so many times (like here and here), just by setting the intention to be an artist, you are already an artist. It is not so much about how much work you amass (more about that in a minute) But about your drive to bring your visual language to the conversation. It is about owning that you have a something in your heart that needs to be seen and making the commitment to get it out there.

Woo! That was easy…now back to that overwhelm where the rubber meets the road for any artist…doing the work.

It might be that you crank out the first piece or even the second and third pieces with ease. You are in the zone. But what next? How do you keep that momentum up. You may even be kind of freaking out about this before you start. Here is what I know.

PicMonkey Collage

Artist spend a lot of time making the same thing.

Yep. Think about it. Kahlo made a lot of self portraits. Monet’s haystack series. Most of the artists who’s work is readily recognized is because those repetitions became their signature style. But I am not really talking about just copying your own work.

Doing the work, means doing a lot of the same thing with little tweaks.

Just the nature of handmade, signals that each piece will be unique. What I find is the magic of new ideas often happens either by mistake or in a crazy a-ha moment while mid process. When you are in your body, doing the physical part of art, your subconscious is awake and will often toss out all the good creative inspirations you have been collecting there whether you know it or not. Don’t fret if it does not, Just see that as a sign that you are doing great work with out any feedback from your right brain.

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Speaking of right brain…this is your barometer for being a better artist.

Listen to it. It is in touch with your heart and soul. What I mean is if you are making the art that you are meant to make based on the visual language you right brain is feeding you, you will know it in your heart….it will feel right in your soul. It is like falling in love. So, actually your right brain is not necessarily in touch with current trends you feed it as inspiration. But you right brain will direct you to fall in love with your work so much that you will stand by that visual language you are creating. It will truly feel like a part of you.

Go for a deeper emotional connection, with each repetition of the project.

Repeating your ideas with little tweaks allows you to make mistakes try new versions getting a little closer to better work. With each repetition you become more emotionally attached to you work. What makes art good to others, is when someone sees your heart in your work and feels the same love and emotion (even with dark, melancholy pieces) of your right brain.

So if you are feeling stuck creatively, try going back to a favorite piece and recreating it. It might just be the path to some awesome new work.

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