Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scarf and Yarn Diet Thoughts

I did an airing of the stash recently. It was because I got a ball winder for my birthday, and I thought it would be fun to spend some time winding yarn into neat little cakes. And after spending several hours looking at, winding, and organizing my yarn, I decided that I needed a plan to winnow it down a bit. It's not crazy out of hand, but it's out of hand. I have a lot more yarn than I thought I did.

Leafing through this quarter's Twist Collective, I read the title of an article entitled The Fifty-Mile Fiber Diet. And I thought, That sounds about right. Let's go for it!

Then I offered to make Kathy a shawl. (She got on Ravelry and has one friend - me.) She started tagging patterns that she liked. I sent her a swatch of one of the shawls she likes and some samples of lace yarns I have in my stash and told her to feel free to pick whatever she wanted. And, of course, if she wants completely different yarn for any special occasions that might be coming up, I would be happy to get it.

One of the patterns she chose that was not a lace shawl was the Gathered Scarf. We were talking on the phone and I said, "You know what that would be good in? That Merino Possum that Alex sells." And then, pause pause pause, I said, "Oh! I have three balls of that!" And my next project was born.
The snob in me thought that it was going to be too easy because it's basically stockinette broken by a few rows of garter stitch every once in a while. And while it's not rocket science (it's basically stockinette broken up by a few rows of garter stitch, after all), it's not boring! I have to count rows, there are increases and decreases, and (something I've never done before) there is a needle change. The garter stitch is done in a slightly smaller needle than the stockinette.

It's sort of flying off the needles; I'm a third done after a day and a half. And since I have a little room here to blather, I'll report a little math-calculation-estimation thing I did that turned out exactly correct.

I was wondering how long it was going to be - how much length the yarn I had would give. I was a little nervous about it being too short if I did it exactly like the pattern, so I took off about a third of the stitches. And when I showed it to Fred, he said, "It seems a little narrow." And he was right. So I ripped it out and did it exactly like the written pattern except that I took off two stitches. Not such a big deal, but it's the thought that counts - and two stitches by five feet or so could add an inch or two. And I increased both needle sizes.

So here's where my brilliant calculations come in. At seven inches, I measured what I had knit and then I weighted the ball. I estimated that I would be able to get another 14 inches out of the ball, since I still had 2/3 of the ball to knit. And when I finished with the ball, how long wast it?

Twenty-one inches. I love math!

The yarn is Supreme Possum Merino from New Zealand. I made Fred a beautiful scarf out of Merino Possum that I bought in North Carolina. It's a reversible cable. This yarn really looks great with the low and high places and it's really soft. It's like fur - probably because it is 40% possum fur. And, while it lasts, I should say that Alex has some of this beautiful yarn in her web shop for as long as is lasts, because she is having a going out of business sale. [insert frowny emoticon here]
So the end of this yarn diet story is that when I was going back to link to this story about the fiber diet in Twist Collective. It turns out that it's an article about shopping locally, within 50 miles of where you live or something. I've done a little calculation. And fifty miles equal about 88,000 yards.

Just to put that in perspective, a sweater made with eight balls of Cascade 220 (my normal consumption for a sweater) would come to 1760 yards. And that would mean that I was going to be knitting about 50 sweaters worth of yarn. I have a lot of yarn, but don't think I have 50 sweaters worth of yarn. I'll have to do some calculations and come up with a realistic plan.

Reading! It always gets me!