I was tooling along on a cardigan project last week, knitting slowly and methodically, in no particular hurry. The temperature outside was a balmy 70 degrees F and the leaves on the trees had only recently begun to burnish. Then I looked at the calendar and caught my breath.
Then end of September. The very last week. That means that soon it will be October.
Hallowthanksmas season is upon us.
Oh crap. It’s time to start my Christmas Knitting!
I stuffed my half-finished cardigan back into its project bag and pelted upstairs to my craft room. My stash bulged before me.
Oh crap. I really need to do something about this stash.
The drawer full of hand-spun yarn overflowed its edges, cascading onto the floor.
And that is the biggest problem of them all.
I vowed then and there: I must begin knitting Christmas gifts. And would begin it today. And ALL of them would be knit out of hand-spun yarn!
Angels sang at that moment. My chest ached with the Hallowthanksmas spirit.
Then reality set in .
You know the problem with hand-spun yarn? Particularly the hand-spun yarn of a beginner? You never really know what you’ve spun. I consider it a success if I manage to spin yarn that is relatively smooth and even. I don’t have any more complicated goals like grist or usefulness.
You know the other problem with hand-spun yarn? There’s never enough of one color to make you feel secure when choosing projects. That one project that would work just great with this yellow always exceeds your yardage by some small but significant amount.
The solution, I decided, was to knit lots of small things. Projects requiring 200 yards or less. Fingerless mitts. Hats. Cowls. Boot toppers. Mittens. Baby stuff.
Oh my god, I could finish a project in two or three nights. Or even one night! I haven’t done that in ages.
“I’m going to use SO much of this stash,” I cackled with glee.
My hand-spun stash exploded out of its drawer as I sorted madly. Lots of vaguely DK/Worsted. Lots of Sport/Fingering. Even some Lace I was very proud of. I shoved the finer yarns back into the drawer. The surest way to reduce volume quickly was to tackle the DK/Worsted.
That very day I cast on a pair of ultra-simple fingerless mitts: Camp Out Fingerless Mitts by Tante Ehm. Within a day, a completed pair rested in my lap. I felt a little drunk on my knitting power. One gift down. I cast on another pair. And a couple of days later, those were done too.
Now for something a little different. I’ve never knitted a beret before. I pulled out my book of Weekend Hats and cast on Greenery Beret by Melissa LaBarre. An easy lace pattern, but so much more entertaining than the mitts. It flew off the needles in three days.
I feel a little drunk with my success. Three projects down in a week. That hasn’t happened since my teenage days of knitting cotton wash cloths.
But, knitaholic that I am, I just want more. More. MORE!
Wonderful post! You have motivated me to get started on my holiday knitting!!
I’m totally right there with you… I started my Christmas knitting list yesterday… 2 months earlier than last year, so that’s a good thing. 🙂 And I love your handspun yarn, that’s my next adventure!
Thanks. It’s a real treat to knot with it. Makes each project a little more special.
Not having enough and not being sure of the ply is my worry with home spun yarn as well. Well done.
Can I quote you on “Hallowthanksmas spirit”? I just love that!
Hah. Go for it.
I do love the stripes of the hat! My holiday knitting started Mid-September, and then I got sidetracked with other stuff. Thanks for reminding me I must get back to work.
I’m also knitting entirely from stash. yay!
Wow,looks like you have a good start on the holiday knitting! Good work!
I love the look of the stash.. and your productivity too!
Fab post! Though I am wondering if I’m a little odd as I always start my Christmas as soon as my Mum and sister’s birthday presents are done (and their birthdays are August)…
Unused to start my Christmas knitting in January. Bit those were the days of cotton dishcloths.
Sounds like its a good thing you have a schedule all worked out for yourself.
Aaaaarrrrgh, Christmas! Have to leave. Must buy yarn (yes, my stash is almost emptied out…). Must decide on patterns. Must start knitting.
Thanks for reminding me – Christmas always comes as such a surprise…
Wow. I’m in awe. Your stash is almost empty? But how? 😉
Simple – I’m broke. I may lust after yarn, but at the moment I can’t afford to buy something I don’t have plans for in the immediate future…
How about sweater recycling? You can get lots of really usable yarn out of thrift store sweaters. Good wool, cotton, and even cashmere. I have a couple of thrifty friends who get a goodly portion of their yarn this way.
Fantastic! And I’m so glad I’m not the only one panicking about Christmas. I’ve asked people for their favourite one skein project as I don’t think I can keep on churning out mittens….
What kind of suggestions have you gotten?
Mittens, fingerless gloves, small toys, hats. So far so not unusual.
I’ve seen some neat knitted book marks and such bit can’t imagine using them myself.
Or you can update an old top/coat/jacket with applique but like the book marks not my sort of thing. I’m waiting for the lightbulb moment.
How extra special that your gifts will be handspun! And I love the self-striping effect that has happened.
The striping effect on the hat was kind of unexpected. I mean, if I had stopped to think about it it might have occurred to me… But no. I had forgotten the yarn was chain plied.
Great post and a great reminder that Christmas is just around the corner.
Thanks. Last year I was able I knit one large gift and that was about it. This year will be different. I’ve even been polling people on color preference.
The hat is beautiful and you have such a great start on your Christmas knitting. I haven’t started mine yet but this post was a great reminder to start.
SO impressed with your stash busting! I’m trying to do some myself but it’s going a lot slower… I laughed when I read this: ” if I don’t put them in the drawer they aren’t officially part of the stash yet and, therefore, not yet part of the problem.” as I do exactly the same 😀
Hah. I knew I wasn’t alone in this technique.
Great ideas for small projects. I have lots of handspun (although some of it’s only fit to make cat beds). I’ll have to give this a try.
What sort of cat beds? Do you mean to tossing your yarn in. Heap in letting your cats roll in it? Or an actual project?
Oh man, I so feel you on the hand-spun problems. Glad you’re putting yours to good use!
And you know, it’s funny. I look in Etsy shops at the quantities available of any one colorway of fiber and there is never enough for a sweater. At most there are 2 or 3 4 oz braids available. I guess that means you have to get really creative in combining colorways from mutliple sources. Either that or dye your own. I wonder how people handle this.
I think dye your own must really be the way to go. I know people who’ve spun and knit their own sweaters, so it must be possible…
yes, it is scary just how close Christmas is & I envy the fact you are already 3 projects up! I really should but I have 13WIPs to finish as well – maybe, just maybe some of them could become Christmas presents! OOooohhhh cunning plan 😉
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I started my Christmas knitting in MAY last year. Yeah I knit slow. This year I only have to knit a few things but I need to get started.
Q – Wow! Great finished projects. Love the beret. Curls always wears them, hummmmmmmm. Love your idea that it’s not stash until it’s in the drawer. LOL!
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You are making me reconsider all the big-ish projects on my holiday knitting list…