Monday, May 31, 2010

Eleven Dollar Yarn

Here's an older entry....enjoy!

With any addiction, there is a time when the addict hits rock bottom. Mine was on a cold, blustery day in early January 2007. I was driving to work, and I realized that even though I had brushed my teeth thoroughly, I could still taste the finely chopped red onion from my salad I had for lunch. I knew I could have picked up a pack once i got to work, but since there was a dollar store just up the road on my right, I could get a five pack of five sticks for a dollar, and I had just a few dollars on me.

As I scoured the limited candy rack, I found a pack of Extra Spearmint, ahh - just the stuff to kill onion breath. But in my searches I overheard the workers talking about yarn. The mere mention of the word makes my ears perk up. I pretend to look through the Juicy Fruit's, Doublemint and Winterfresh racks. So then I start looking up and down the aisles. Past experience of yarn at a dollar store, and my current experience tells me that it is probably on an end cap, and low and behold it is!!

You are probably wondering why I don't carry gum normally, it is because I have TMJ, and I clench my jaw muscles, making chewing unbearable. Years ago, before my dentist, I swore off the sticky, minty chewy stuff, in an effort to help heal my jaw. But once in a while, I just have to have a piece. Sure, ten years or so, I would have had several packs stashed everywhere - my purse, my backpack, my car. The list is endless.

So, I find this end cap, sparsely filled with yarn. I did hear the workers saying a customer told them it was normally eight dollars. Actually it close to more like five a skein, but either way, it was now a dollar each! So, I grabbed some blue fuzzy, and some black fuzzy, and some black sparkly, and the next thing you know, I am up to a bill of eleven dollars! Ten of it being yarn,

Now would be a good time to tell you that the job I was driving to was at Michael's Arts and Crafts, and it was during their big Dollar Days event. I had already bought plenty of Fancy Fun and Matrix to cover half of Oakland county. But did I let this stop me- of course not.

It has been about a month since that eleven dollar yarn venture, and I have bought a few times since. I was actually looking for a project to complete, when I came across that fateful bag - yarn and four packs of Extra in the bottom.

I have decided not to begin anymore projects until I complete the ones I have started. There are blankets to work on, and a scarf.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On the Fringe

I knitted my way through the Winter Olympics. Through the opening ceremony, knitting a scarf. Through the men's figure skating, finished the scarf. Knitted another scarf while watching the gold medal hockey game. Finally, during the closing ceremonies, I dug through my yarn collection for that half spool, so I could fringe the last scarf.

There is something to be said about fringe. To me, it gives the piece some character, a final touch. Whether it's on a scarf or an afghan, I have wound many a strand of yarn and attached groups of them to a piece.

I need to talk about the fact that my laptop was out of commission for 2 weeks, (mostly during the Olympics) - which was probably good, because my eyes were on the tv, on not this screen. During this time, I managed to organize my yarn stash.

I talk about my collection, and until I could actually see it all together, I never realized the sheer amount that I own. In the past, it was stored in large, plastic containers that you could not see through. Colors and types were all mixed in. Until about 2 weeks ago.

My mom is a bargain shopper and on a recent post-holiday trek into a local discount store (that shall remain nameless). She found the large CLEAR plastic containers for a whopping $2 each, and grabbed quite a few.

It was time-consuming and very eye-opening, to go through my yarn. I had a few new spools of Lion Brand Trellis (which they no longer make) that I considered selling on ebay. Since I can no longer buy it, those spools will become scarves.

I even did some research on how to organize yarn. At one point, I had enough to fill 2 large containers and one was pastels and baby, the other was all other colors. Then, it started to grow. more containers, a box, bags, even some runaway odds and ends that hang out in a basket.

I decided colors would be my best bet. White, black, reds, pinks, purples, blues, greens, yellows, and the browns and off-whites are mixed together. Plus 1 more container for baby yarn that is white with hints of color. So, about 10 containers total. I will have pictures soon!!

As tedious as the task was, I am glad it's done, and I have a better idea of what yarns I have, and a better system to find things. No more digging and hoping the precariously perched yarn containers stay put. Stay tuned - photos coming soon!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Yarn Stash

When my mom started to do plastic canvas when I was in junior high, it started. It was a few skeins of a various colors at first, some a blue, red and a few multi-color. From there, it grew. Those couple of skeins that fit nicely in a basket, moved into a Rubbermaid container. Finally, my mom's stash of yarn reached about 4 containers, about 2x3. She still has yarn, and still makes things, but mostly for gifts and the holidays.

I think my stash started off of that one. One of the first things I made that required a quantity of yarn was an afghan that was made with 6 strands. I probably bought a total of 25-30 large skeins to make this afghan, and of course there were leftovers. White, yellow, a muted pink, a mixed green.

From there, my theory on yarn is that it's like rabbits - it just multiplied. I would see stuff on sale, and pick it up. The major addition came from my yarn stash after grandma passed the summer of 2000. She would always overbuy for afghans, because it beats running out of yarn! There were blues and greens and blacks. It was enough that I had graduated to a larger box for yarn.

From there, the yarn would multiply - baby afghans that too much yarn was bought for, chenille scarves were requested, and with each project there would be some leftover. Most cases, I probably had the receipt, and could have returned the extra, but for some reason I just figured I would use it for other projects.

When a local quilting shop went out of business, I picked up some off-white 100% cotton, that I have now used to edge on baby blankets, and some pink mohair that I was saving for a special project.

Another major addition came to my yarn stash after a trip to Virginia. Back in August 2005, I made a trip to Northern Virginia to see my cousin, and she introduced me to AC Moore. I love yarn, and for me, their yarn department rivals that of other stores. They have a larger area of yarn, and they have more of the fashion yarns. They also had a bag of three skeins of Lion Brand Homespun that was called "mill ends" - for $5 a bag, and there was the 40% off coupon, so that was a great deal. I managed to get several bags on this trip - enough that my luggage wouldn't close, and I had to have it shipped back!

I have been able to recently find these mill ends at a local Big Lots, and have bought several bags. I can see the possibilities, the blanket that I am making for myself, the pods for the babies, the scarves.

My current stash of yarn is contained in several very large containers, and my project for the winter is to go through and catalog it, I read online of a lady doing this - having a spreadsheet of all of her yarn. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Friday, November 20, 2009

If These Scarves Could Talk and PDK's

What is a PDK? If a PDA is a Public Display of Affection, a PDK is a Public Display of Knitting. I have been known to crochet in public, but I tend to crochet when I am making an afghan, and once they become to big and bulky, I keep them at home to finish.

They say that half the fun is in getting there, and I have crocheted and knit my way through many road trips. The baby afghan I made for my cousin's daughter was worked on during a road trip to West Branch and then Big Rapids, to help my best friend move back to college. The purse I made for his daughter several years later was knit at the airport and on the plane ride down to Virginia. On another trip to Virginia, I knit some scarves. The plane ride there I worked on a fuzzy magenta scarf, that ended up staying there because it went well with my cousins leather jacket.

I consider myself a patient person, and to have to sit and wait at the doctor or dentist, I have no problem pulling out a scarf that I am knitting and getting some rows complete. In fact, this is often times a conversation starter. Today I went to the dentist for a simple filling, armed with my current fuzzy scarf on the needles. It got attention, and I really thought I would have a few minutes to get a few rows worked while waiting for my tooth to numb up, but there was not time.

I was making white preemie caps while waiting for service on my car, and the other customer sitting across from me figured out what I was making, because most hats aren't that small.

The granny-square afghan I made for my grandma was one of the first times I crocheted something outside of the house - that was made mostly in my college dorm room, between studying and classes.

I have made many scarves at craft shows. Another vendor pointed out that I think I am just keeping busy, but to the customer, they can see me actually make the items, and that is a good selling point as well.

It is rare for me to leave the house without a project that I am working on. I often take my projects to work, there is sometimes time on my lunch to get some work done. When I am packing for a trip, or just for the day, my knitting or crocheting goes with me, even I know there will be no time or place to work on it, it is just comforting to know it is there.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Yarn Crawl

The tour started at The Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. I have been to store before, it is tucked away off of Cochran, the main street in downtown. It's a great shop, and I was inspired by her Christmas tree, that was decorated with yarn balls and knit mittens. How great would that be in a craft room? I especially love the family of snowmen as well. I did get a small knit sweater, and that will be the first ornament on my tree!

The next stop was Thread Bear Fiber Arts Studio in Lansing. This store was a bit hard to find, it is in a strip mall right on Waverly Road, but the sign by the road did not make it easy to spot. This shop has a wide variety of yarn, and I did buy some mohair for half off. I was tempted to get a keychain that was made of yarn. There were so many to pick from - all in the form of people, but they had a name and job and were well accessorized! The bags of fingering yarn mill ends were great, they came in tons of colors. I would have bought a bag, but I didn't have a project in mind. Plus, it gives me an excuse to go back! ;)

I did visit Hobby Lobby, and most of their yarn, with the exception of some Patons and Red Heart, is their own brand. It just amazes me the sheer size of a Hobby Lobby store, my only goal on this trip was to check out the yarn department, and since it's in the far corner for the store, it was quite a hike! I figure the average Hobby Lobby is about 3 times the size of the average Michaels, but I could be wrong.

The next two stops were at Joann's and Michaels. They are in the same shopping complex. I parked in the middle and managed to walk to both. My mission in going to the chains was to find some Patons Allure in Amethyst. Joann's is another store that has it's own brand of yarn, and I was not able to locate the Allure. Across the parking lot I went to the Michaels, and found their yarn department in the back corner. I managed to locate the Allure, but no Amethyst! That's what online ordering is for!

My final stop on my journey was to Rae's Yarn Boutique this shop is on Michigan Avenue in downtown Lansing. I found yarn of many brands, and some weaving tools. The poster that caught my eye was for breast cancer awareness. I did pick up a sheep cookie cutter that was filled with some blue wool, and I plan on felting with that fiber.

The following day I stuck close to home and visited Basket Full of Yarn in Clarkston. (no website) They too had the poster, and kits to buy. They projects are chemo caps with flowers, or squares to be joined for an afghan.

I did buy a beautiful skein of mohair, that I cannot wait to turn into a creation! The shop is very cozy, and the service is excellent. Another note from my trip - they have a drop box for St. Joseph-Mercy Hospital's "No One Should Die Alone" program, where you can donate an afghan that will go to someone who is ill. On my next trip there, I will not go empty handed.

I was able to see and feel a variety of yarns, get an idea of what is out there, because even
though you can buy most yarns online, nothing beats it like seeing it in person.

Monday, September 7, 2009

To bead or not to bead?

It is a week into the challenge, and I can honestly say I feel like I am getting things done each day. My projects don't seem so huge (except for an afghan I am working on), when you put them into perspective.

So far, I have made 4 scarves, 10 pairs of earrings and 1 preemie hat. There were some days that I would make several pairs of earrings at once. Part of my challenge now is to keep my puppy, Cooper, entertained while I try to work on things. A knitting or crochet project is seen as something to play with in his eyes. Despite all the toys he has, he loves yarn.

Tonight, it was time to make a pair of earrings, and I recently found a nearly-new playpen to keep Cooper captive in the basement while I work. He is a shorkie (half shih tzu, half yorkshire terrier) and is about 10 lbs, and this playpen is perfect. Since he isn't used to that or the basement, it took about 10 minutes to get him ok with the idea, even though he was right next to me, with my hand in the pen. When you are working on jewelry, you need two hands, it just makes it easier. When he finally calmed down, he decided to chew on the mat, which now has a hole in it.

I did manage to put together a pair of funky, green earrings for my niece. So, that's part of my 10. Earlier today, I started a few rows on a blue, wool scarf. I do have some projects that need to be finished, and those will get a mention too, once they are done.

Tomorrow is another day and another project, stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 1 of the Challenge

So late last night I was able to complete a soft, brown and blue chenille scarf that is knit. I am already a day ahead!! I started another one that is a bulky red yarn with fuzzy purple and turquoise going through it. The scarves this year are a ribbed knit pattern. I knit an even amount of stitches and knit two, and purl two. It's a pretty basic pattern, and I originally started using this pattern to practice my purling.

My last count of scarves to sell for shows is around 16. My goal is to have between 30 and 40 by the beginning of October.

Will I have this scarf complete by the end of the night? Will I have given up and switched to jewelry? Stay tuned, and I will update tomorrow....