Thoughts every knitter has on entering a new yarn store

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Where’s the sock yarn? How is this place organised?

Oooh, pretty colour!…oh no, but it’s lace.

Well, I could totally start knitting lace if I wanted to.

Oh man, this is so soft…I wonder if anyone would notice if I rubbed it on my face?

How much is it?…Christ, for ONE skein?

Oh, no wonder, there’s cashmere in it.

I want to put it down, and yet I can’t.

Well, one skein is pretty restrained. Look at me being restrained…oooh, angora!

That colourway…it’s not really my thing, but limited edition!

I should have got a basket. Do they have baskets?

I don’t have any projects that need buttons. But these buttons are so pretty. Maybe I should find a project that needs buttons…

This would be perfect for that sweater, I wonder how many balls I would need…

HOW MANY?

No, don’t you dare start looking at that yarn over there. I may want more of it.

God, I hope they take debit cards…

Oooh, free wool wash!

Oh thank goodness, there’s a swift.

Winding this into a ball is SO much faster with a swift.

I wonder if they sell swifts?

OK, I am totally not buying any more yarn until I’ve finished a project.

That beanie hat I’m nearly done with counts, right?

Monsterful…Tuesday?

So yes, this is a day late. The normal posting schedule was interrupted by me coming down with an evil lurgie and taking the day off yesterday to give my body a chance to properly fight the cold, which included no blogging and no internet (Candy Crush doesn’t count. Neither does chatting to the Best Beloved.). It’s something I think I’ve finally adjusted to after 4 1/2 years in New Zealand- staying home when you’re sick, especially if you have a cold. In the UK, people will crawl into work on their hands and knees. Here, you stay home, rest, get better and hope not to give what you’ve got to other people. I think it’s definitely a more enlightened approach. I’m definitely grateful this week for being able to take time off to get better!

Mega-destash-happy-fun-times

On Saturday, I grabbed a big suitcase (and a big overflow bag) and headed over to Newtown for the Social Wool Fair, to sell as much as I possibly could. It went gangbusters! I was busy most of the 6 hours, chatting and tempting and watching people pick up pretty balls of yarn and put them down with a sigh of “I mustn’t!” (usually followed by them coming back, giving me some money and taking said ball away with them).

I was huddled in my little corner with two great ladies, Suzanne and Adrienne, both seasoned market people, on either side of me. In the lulls between customers (they seemed to come in waves) we would sit around knitting- in fact, here they are in one of the lulls (that’s my stall in the middle):

Knitting fun at the Social Wool Fair

For the last hour they did their best to talk me into spending some of the money I’d been making selling my stash on buying more yarn. There was Socks that Rock. SOCKS THAT ROCK! It wasn’t easy to stay where I was and not go throw money at one of my fellow destashers. Luckily the Best Beloved sent me texts during the afternoon with such helpful messages as “Just in case: No, no and…no” and “resist!”- because he knew I really wanted to do so. The end result? I sold about 3/4 of the yarn I brought with me, to many happy yarny ladies (and the odd man), and made $360.  I had a fun day, with good company (and delicious toasted sandwiches), nobody rubbed anything on their boobs (I think that’s the yarn equivalent of ‘you break it you buy it’), and I’m considerably less yarn-heavy.

Knitting inspiration

Obviously, it being the Social Wool Fair, there were lots of handknits on show being modeled by stallholders, customers and some adorable (and very lucky) babies.  One in particular that caught my eye (and quite a few other peoples’) was this scarf, as made and worn by the lovely Anita from Vintage Purls:

Anita in her favourite things scarf

“Make sure you get my daleks!”

Can you even? The photo doesn’t do the gorgeousness of this scarf justice. When I see something that stunning, of course I had to ask if there was a pattern, and as it turns out, it’s available free on Ravelry- called ‘My Favourite Things‘, the idea being that you use the basic formula to create your own scarf covered with your own favourite things. Lots of people have contributed charts they’ve used, and of course you can always use my tutorial from last Tuesday to create your own. I’ve added it to my queue of must-knit projects- though I’ll have to wait until I’ve knit down the stash a bit more before I can justify buying yarn for it. Anita made hers with a glorious merino-cashmere blend from Plucky Knitter- SO soft and strokeable and, she says, “it keeps the wind away from your neck!”- and I’d like to splurge a little and make this in a really fabulous yarn- we’re talking bright semi-solid  colours and lovely soft fibre- alpaca, cashmere, maybe a little silk or yak…oh yes, this will be a work of art.

Thus far my list of things I want to put on the scarf includes: TARDISes, anchors, Supernatural anti-demon-possession tattoos, hearts, skullflakes, cups of tea, pirate ships, swallows, the White Tree of Gondor, waves, beer, wolves, Star Wars Fair Isle, soot sprites (because Miyazaki!) dragons, Cthulhu…yep. This might be a LONG scarf.

Special mentions

Looking forward to seeing the Best Beloved this weekend, Burger Fuel PBJ burger, my little wheat bag, full fat Coke (the magic potion for going back to work when you’re only at about 99%), Miss Patty from Gilmore Girls (“Who wants to hear about the time I danced in a cage for Tito Puente?” MEEEEEE, I DO!), hexipuffs, the mindlessness of binding off a quilt, and being able to get tasty food delivered to your door (they do say, starve a fever but feed a cold- last night I fed my cold with Kumara chips and aioli, and a snack-size pizza from Hell’s Pizza).

What about you? What are you grateful for this week? Or for bonus points- what would you want on your own Favourite Things Scarf?

Things I Think About Thursday: It’s just stuff, it’s not love

I have a lot of stuff. I may not be about to be contacted by the producers of ‘Hoarders’, but there’s stuff, and there’s a lot of it, and it’s mine. Aged 19 I was told by my flatmates that I was taking the biggest room because I had the most stuff. My Mum would subtly offer to lend me books with titles like ‘Freedom from Clutter‘. It didn’t stick.

When my marriage ended, I went from a (full) two bedroom house to one bedroom in a small flat about 1/3 of the size the house had been. It took two car journeys just to move the stuff I had left BEHIND when I left. When I first left my husband permanently, I moved in with some (amazing) friends (to whom I am grateful to this day), in a small single room. At the start I had just a suitcase. 3 months later it took a car to move everything I had to the new flat.

Fast forward 3 years and I have, finally, had enough. The thing about too much stuff (whatever too much is for you, and it’s different for everyone), is that it weighs on you. I don’t just mean when you have to carry it up a hill or a flight of 40-odd steps to move. In terms of energy flow, it slows you- it makes you feel weighed down, which is very different from grounded.

Then  there’s the fact that, surprisingly for someone who has always been a pack rat, one of my dreams is to live in a tiny house. Specifically, my wild dream is to build a Tumbleweed Harbinger (the one bedroom model), with solar panels, and live small and mortgage free. If I did that right now I could probably live in a fort made of plastic tubs o’stuff while they built it.

Add to the mix that I want to move cities (which involves transporting everything I own, at once, on a 10 hour trip, and you have the clincher.  A big downsize is in order.

The thing that prevented me in the past from getting rid of, well, anything, was sentiment. If it was a gift from someone (especially from a close family member, or a dead family member) I had to keep it. If it was linked to a special memory, I had to keep it. When I moved to New Zealand, one of the hardest things was having to get rid of some of my books- in fact I promised myself I would never get rid of books ever again. They’re one of my big memory-triggers. I can tell you when I got any given volume on my shelves, who gave it to me, or where I bought it. I didn’t think I could ever bear to use a Kindle.

Well, plus ca change. I started small- with clothes I didn’t wear, taking them to the charity shops or selling them to friends (or, soon, on Trade Me). And as I began to release things, I started to feel lighter. The big moment for me was when I was looking at some bits and pieces I had kept automatically because they were from, in particular, my Mum and Dad. I suddenly asked myself the most useful question I ever have about stuff:

“Do you think that the love they have for you will go away just because this thing does?”

Well, of course, the answer is no. It was freeing- I can divest myself of things that no longer serve me, secure in the knowledge that it doesn’t change the happy memory, or the connection I have with another person if it’s still present and felt by both of us. It’s one of the most important things I’ve learned to do while decluttering- be conscious. Don’t default to ‘I have to keep that’. Do you really? Why do you? Is it because you genuinely love it and it makes you happy just looking at it, or is it from a feeling of guilt or worry about what would happen if you no longer had it?

Of course, there are some things I would never get rid of, things that still have a lot of meaning to me, things that are unique and special. Those things have a special, joyful energy of their own and it gives me joy to have them. Things like a book with an inscription from my Grandfather to my Grandma, given to her while they were engaged. A patchwork bedspread from my Grandparents’ house. A signed first edition of my favourite book.

And getting rid of something doesn’t mean you have to sell it or donate it. If it’s a family thing, there might be a sibling or cousin of yours who would love to have it, to keep it in the family (or if you can’t stand it, and you know nobody else can either, you can always give it to your least favourite family member and let them deal with having it in the house…not that I’m endorsing that idea.)- and spread the love.

Which brings me to my next point- by releasing things from your possession, you’re freeing them to go where they will be of service. They’re going to, say, the family member who will love and treasure it. Or to a new person who needs it when you no longer do. It’s this thought that has helped me, for the first time in 5 years, to start getting a pile of books ready to go. They’re books I don’t read, that I’m not attached to. Releasing them gives them a chance to go to a new owner who will love them, and gain enjoyment from them. Probably not even their last owner. It’s the same with clothes. When I started decluttering I had a lot of clothes which, while I thought they were lovely, I didn’t wear. Beautiful things deserve better than to hang around unused and hidden away. By taking them out of my wardrobe and passing them on to excited new owners, I’m giving them the chance to be used and loved as they deserve. Shown off. Complimented. Twirled in. To be put on by someone who feels like a million dollars in them.

It’s this same motivation that will see me, on Saturday 21st June, heading with a couple of suitcases full of yarn and craft books to St Anne’s Hall, Emmett Street, Newtown, for the Social Wool Fair. I looked at my yarn stash- all four huge plastic tubs of it- and realised it was daunting. There was way, way more than I could realistically knit up any time soon. It brought me down. I felt I didn’t have any freedom to choose projects that wouldn’t be made from stash yarn. And I had a lot of lovely yarns that I just wasn’t going to do anything with. Like the books, and the clothes, by destashing these and taking them to the wool fair, I can send all these pretties to new and loving knitters, who will get pleasure from them (and look, if they sit in THEIR stash that’s OK too. The point is that the skeins will make them smile!). And I, hopefully, get some extra savings to bring my succulent wild dreams closer to reality.

If you’re in Wellington on the 21st June, why not head over to Newtown between 10 and 4, and come say hi? I’ll be the one in the retro-pin-up dress with the half-table (and the many skeins and balls of lovely yarn for good prices), twitching slightly as I try to resist the temptation to buy yarn from other traders. I managed it at Fabric-a-brac…