Elyse’s Knitting: Stash Busting

First of all, this is not a post about stuff you should be doing during quarantine. Unlike any jackwagons advocating we completely transform ourselves mentally or intellectually during quarantine, I personally see this as a traumatic time and it’s really important to be gentle with ourselves. This post is just about what helped settle my anxiety brain right now, in hopes that maybe it would help someone else, too.

As I’ve mentioned many times, knitting typically soothes my anxiety. It gives me something to focus on other than the hamster running on the wheel in my brain. Right now I’m feeling overwhelmed, though, and I’m struggling to focus. I bought a few books on how to knit sweaters before realizing that learning something new was a bad idea right now. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to try learning a new type of project and deal the with frustrations and mistakes that come along with that process.

In fact, pretty much the only thing I wanted to do related to knitting was look at pattern books.  A few of my local yarnstores are doing something called “Quaranskeining” where they send you a mystery bundle of yarn and the corresponding needles, notions and patterns to use it. As I was flipping through my knitting books I thought, what if I do that for myself but with my own stash?

It wouldn’t be a mystery, of course, but I could pair yarn to patterns and organize it all in one of the eleventy billion project bags I have. That way, when my brain was ready to start knitting, I could just grab one of the bags and go. I’d already have the yarn selected, needles and notions in place, and pattern ready to go.

So the first thing I did was dig out my stash.

Five totes filled with yarn sitting in front of my bookcase

No, this is not all of it. I have more yarn in my basement. These are my most recent and prettiest acquistions.

Then, because it made me happy, I started sorting by color. By the way, all of this yarn is fingering weight. I have a sock yarn addiction.

Many, many skeins of yarn form a half circle of my floor. They're lumped into piles by color
Apparently I really like green

If you’re squinting you can see that there’s a lot of Hedgehog Fibers, Round Mountain Fibers, Freia and Miss Babs yarn in there.

Once I had everything sorted I began pulling yarn and matching it to patterns that I want to knit. I recently purchased both of Melanie Berg’s shawl books, such as Colorwork Shawls: Tücher stricken mit Farbe – Knit in Color, ( A ) and I really love what she’s doing with color and texture.

Melanie Berg's book Colorwork Shawls sits on top of a pile of yarn

I also bought Harry Potter: Knitting Magic by Tanis Gray ( A | BN ) and this book is amazing. It has tons of beautiful patterns inspired by the Harry Potter films as well as behind the scenes looks at the movies.

Here is some yarn (Round Mountain Fibers and I think two old skeins of Tosh Merino Light) that I put together to make A Gentle Hug by Melanie Berg.

Purple and teal balls of yarn sit on either side of a skein of light gray shot through with some of those colors

A Gentle Hug by Melanie Berg

By the time I was done sorting and pairing, I had a dozen projects in bags, ready to go whenever my brain decides it can knit again. I’d also repackaged my stash by color so I’ll have an easier time finding things moving forward.

Has social distancing sent you stash diving? Do you have a special project you’re making?

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Elyse's Knitting

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  1. 1
    Carol S. says:

    I’ve found myself mainly knitting hats. Easy ones, just knit and purl patterns in the round. I am a bit too stressed to maintain major concentration. I’ve got a collection I’ll send to a place that helps LGTB kids who are homeless. It’s weird — I felt almost pressure to start some big knitting project since we’re at home all the time but just haven’t been able to get one started.

  2. 2
    Amy E. says:

    Ancient Arts Yarns has yarn that matches the coloration on cats and some dogs. ;). https://ancientartsfibre.com/pages/colour-page-gallery

  3. 3
    Lisa says:

    I love Melanie Berg’s patterns!

    I am using this time to try and finish off a few of my UFOs. Next up is finally picking out the collar of my Dad’s sweater and adding a few inches on to it.

  4. 4
    Big K says:

    Me, too, @Carol S.! I’ve been making hats for family and co-workers. They are easy, mindless, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I angle the camera during long conference calls, so folks don’t know I’m knitting. I feel like the pandemic’s Madame Defarge (sp?).
    I love this idea, though, Elyse! Nice way to enjoy your stash before you even knit with it. Good Easter distraction/celebration for me today. Thank you! Keep being gentle with yourself!

  5. 5
    TamB. says:

    I’m knitting socks and posting them to friends and family. I’m new to socks so my heel join still needs work and I’ve just started patterning the socks. I like that this isn’t a big project and I can finish them without it taking weeks (or longer given the projects I have part done).

    Prior to the stricter social distancing measures we have in Aust being introduced, I went through my stash and anything I didn’t love I donated to a group that knits for those in need in the community. Hopefully that wool is helping to keep someone else occupied now.

  6. 6
    Nikki says:

    I haven’t really been able to knit since this started. I have a cable sweater in progress that I’ve been able to complete one repeat. I’ve instead turned to my embroidery stash (purchased when I thought cross stitching looked fun without remembering that cross stitching is not fun for me) and I’ve been doing samplers. I just need something a bit unfamiliar to keep the noise out of my brain right now.

    But after completing a sampler or two, I am starting to work on my sweater more! Sometimes you just need to churn out a new project before you can continue on your old one.

  7. 7
    MirandaB says:

    I finished Stephen West’s Boneyard, am making a 2×2 ribbed hat for my aunt, and then I’m going to do Mowry’s Find Your Fade. A friend gave me a KnitPicks gift certificate, and I bought a Fade kit a while back.

    I’m also doing some embroidery:

    Witch’s Gate https://www.123stitch.com/item/Whispered-by-the-Wind-Witchs-Gate-Cross-Stitch-Pattern/WB109

    And The winter Solstice Mandala:
    https://www.amazon.com/Mandalas-Embroider-Kaleidoscope-Stitching-Hoop/dp/1782215441/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=embroidery+mandala&qid=1586703512&sr=8-1

  8. 8
    DonnaMarie says:

    I’ve liked sorting/organizing things all my life. Instructions to pick up my room usually ended up with me laying out all my doll/stuffed animals out to be counted and sorted by various parameters: age, size, color, etc. I’m sure there are studies out there about how, like handwork, there’s some good brain chemicals released by the process.

    Not knitting, but I have been spending time with the fabric stash. First making masks to put in the mail for my Dad, his meals on wheels people and neighbors and then some for the bros.

    Yesterday I decided to sort all the half finished projects and put them together with what ever they need to be finish, or a list of what I need to purchase to finish. If I have what I need to move forward, I worked the project to the point where I needed something else to finish it be it time or supplies. After that I piled up all the little kits I’ve acquired at various guild functions on the coffee table to work on while reducing my vast Jeopardy backlog on the dvr.

    So now I have several large pieces ready to be finished when I have the wherewithall to work on something that involved plus a mug rug, a pincushion, a fabric flower pin, two small quilts basted and ready for quilting, a cross stitch door hanger & a Christmas ornament done. Now I’m doing the embroidery work on a fused applique piece. And more Jeopardy.

  9. 9
    Amber says:

    I was going to try to do a quarantine FO but then I stressed myself out with it lol. I’m WFH with a toddler and no daycare. I have been knitting an aurinko shawl which is just a huge crescent shaped shawl in garter stitch. Easy, mindless and something I won’t feel overwhelmed with or or pressured to finish. I also bought some pretty yarn to make hitchhikers and a quaranskein project I’m waiting on. So basically I’m only knitting easy stuff now in pretty colors.

  10. 10
    Win Day says:

    Ooooh, pretty.

    I don’t have a stash. I wish I did, as of course right now I can’t go visit yarn stores and build one. Online ordering is OK, but nothing compares with seeing in person and being able to touch.

    I started crocheting again in February after probably 30 years away. Chose a shawl pattern that was a little beyond what I knew how to do but not so difficult I’d feel overwhelmed, a pattern that was being done as a crochet-along in a Facebook group so I’d have company. Bought yarn for one shawl, and managed to finish it within the 6 allotted weeks.

    I’m just about done with the second shawl in different colours. And I ordered yarn for two more.

    My brain won’t handle anything more challenging than this shawl right now. But I really enjoy sitting on the couch and working on it.

  11. 11
    Nagarajas says:

    I am chugging away on my Elfmail Sweater. 2/3 of the way through raglan shaping! Reaching the part where each row is like maximum size and takes forever. One of the colors is “Using our Powers of Anxiety For Good” by Dragonhoard Fibers so there’s really no better yarn to be using right now.

    I have a sock dedicated to Zoom meetings that is almost finished. I might do my next sock on DPNS, which technically I like more then Magic Loop but since I usually carry socks around I use dpns. But it’s not like I’m traveling so if I can find 5 dpns of a sock size that might be what’s happening.

    I’m having trouble choosing what to knit to. I’m just waffling so much on podcasts and audiobooks I feel safe letting into my brain.

  12. 12
    Gretchen says:

    100% agree that now is not a time when I can focus on learning something new. Not knitting right now, but I did spend 3 hours yesterday sorting the fabric stash, grouping WIPs and checking on notions. Today I’m planning to do the same with the x-stitch stash.

    I may not be able to focus on a project right now, but I definitely feel better after playing with craft things.

  13. 13
    Rebecca says:

    This is so gorgeous!!

    I’ve done the same thing, but instead of sorting yarn and patterns, I’ve been sorting fabric and patterns, for sewing projects.

  14. 14
    MsCellanie says:

    In case you (or someone else) does want to try, a sweater at its very most basic is four rectangles* – if you’ve made a scarf (which is one rectangle), then you do that four times and you’ve pretty much got a sweater. It won’t be the best sweater ever (see note) but it’ll work. Make two rectangles that are a little bit wider than your (or your recipient’s body) and as long as their torso. And two rectangles that are as long as their arms and the same width as the length of the first two rectangles. Sew them up. Voila. Sweater.

    I’m finishing things. Those projects that I got bored of and never quite got to the end of? That’s what I’m working through.

    *this is 95% true – your neck and arms aren’t centered appropriately for this to be entirely true. Also your body is not square; it rounds and slopes and tapers and stuff. But it’s true enough for a first sweater that you can wear during quarantine.

  15. 15
    Qualisign says:

    This week I discovered the group, “Snarky Crafters: Because Punching People Is Frowned Upon,” that has some amazing and truly snarky projects, including some fabulous cross-stitch designs that perfectly capture these weird times. Rabbit hole after rabbit hole… So I’m listening to Vivian Shaw’s Dr. Greta Helsinger audiobooks while building a valance using #10 thread and an old fashioned filet crochet technique, interspersed with a temperature blanket and a tunisian crocheted and cross-stitched blanket for my parents’ 70th anniversary. All use different techniques, hooks, yarns, colors. It does help the stress, but it also makes me feel like the ultimate old lady surrounded by my terrifying stash. In fact, I’m trying out techniques that my grandmothers (and my dh’s) used from the late 1800s and through the 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic (and beyond) just to feel the connection — and lessen the stress. Most of my reading is now being done in audio (aka hand’s free) format.

  16. 16
    denise says:

    I’m envious of your stash and I don’t even know how to knit.

  17. 17
    Susan says:

    I don’t know, but I do have a truly massive needlework (embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, beading, etc.) stash…which is all boxed up in storage with over 95% of my possessions. I’ve been staying with a relative during a long, serious illness at the same time my home has been undergoing a full renovation (which is now largely on hold). Fun times! So, no crafting, hobbies, baking, etc. Luckily, I do have all my ebooks/audiobooks available. I think about what this all would have been like in the pre-internet world.

  18. 18
    Susan says:

    ^That was supposed to read, “I don’t knit,” but “I don’t know” is also a pretty accurate general statement these days. LOL.

  19. 19
    Crystal says:

    I don’t knit. Wish I did, but I’ve never taken to it, and while I (like all of us) seem to have some. time on my hands, what I don’t have is the brain bandwidth at the moment. Since I am a pretty experienced cross-stitcher though, this is my time to shine. Shortly before all this happened, I had started a brand new and very detailed and complicated pattern. It’s from the AwesomePatternStudio on etsy. Her patterns are gorgeous, but highly detailed and very colorful. I bought this one like a year ago. It’s of the Cuyahoga Valley State Park, with the focal point being the waterfall. I messed it up rather quickly, and started it over with a different shade of aida that I could see a little bit more easily, and now it’s cooking. I’ve been at it for almost a month, and almost have the first quadrant done (it’s also huge). It’s been great for keeping my hands and brain busy.

  20. 20
    Jennifer says:

    So I’ve been doing knitalongs. I just did the Arne and Carlos “Hug Me Later” pillow one and I’m starting the Pandemic one on Ravelry. I finished a temperature scarf for an exhibit that’s now going to have to go virtual. And I have also taken up cross stitch samplers. I just did one that says “Wake Me Up When The Virus Ends,” and am now doing a Baby Yoda one, and want to do more virus-y ones after that.

    I’m not sure how into my “current” projects I am, though. I was going to make a bunch of baby Yodas and other toys for coworkers and now god only knows if/when anybody can ever get those, because I am NOT going to the post office. I am also doing that Sylvie vine coat and putting that off because it’s, well, hard. My “portable” project, well, I did 10000 steps in my living room while knitting on that today, hah.

  21. 21
    Todd says:

    I don’t knit but for those who do, you might enjoy a book called “Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously”. A woman – an experienced knitter – decides that she WILL knit a fair isle sweater from a specific pattern. The pattern is in a book which is out of print, calls for very specific yarns (from a company which has gone out of business) and she doesn’t have experience with the specific fair isle stitching. Along the way, she connects with other knitters and knitting groups. It’s very funny and I found the information about knitting and yarn interesting.

  22. 22
    cayenne says:

    Normally I’m a crocheter, but since this whole mishegas started, I’ve been itching to pick up my knitting needles again. I’m dying to try a cable pattern scarf I found online – and the cable needles/stitch holders I ordered from Amazon just arrived this morning, so I’ll soon be diving into the remnants bag for practice yarn. Fun fun fun!!

  23. 23
    Affreca says:

    I haven’t done any knitting either, though I’ve been spinning up a storm (my current project is blended greys and blues meant to evoke thunderstorm clouds rolling in). It works well with low stress documentaries. I think the difference is that knitting requires decisions, while spinning mostly involves doing more of the same.

  24. 24
    Mrs. Obed Marsh says:

    Had to ‘fess up to my mom that the lace scarf I’m working on is supposed to be her birthday present. That means it’s up to her to block it! 😀

  25. 25
    Nagarajas says:

    @todd

    I read that book! It was good. But I can’t relate to using the colors called for in a pattern. Even for an Alice Starmore.

    You might like This Golden Fleece its a woman knitting her way through british knitting history. There are some beautifully evocative descriptions of the lived realities amd economies of knitters.

  26. 26
    Todd says:

    FYI, if anyone wants to take up the challenge, I believe that Dover has reprinted the Alice Starmore books.

  27. 27
    KathyK says:

    Thank you so much for this post! What a great idea to organize your stash. I did order yarn at the beginning of this stay home period and really have too much yarn. Time to go back and look at patterns I was hesitant about trying before. Thanks everyone for the great recommendations! happy knitting and crafting and take care!

  28. 28
    Susanna says:

    Awesome idea. I’ve been on a baby bib kick (my pattern of choice is shaped like a flower petal, with an I-cord tie). I have a nice chevroned baby blanket on the sticks as well, which I’ll probably get back to, or a simple cardigan I’m mostly done with (I frankenpatterned a shrug design I’ve knit before, which now has sweater length, and will have an I-cord fastening, because I don’t feel like knitting buttonholes if I don’t have to).

    I feel you on the sock yarn – I adore the stuff. I don’t knit socks, either. (I can get a cute baby sweater out of the yarn for a pair of socks. It’s my go-to purchase at yarn shops when I’m on the road and don’t have project yardage notes with me.)

    Knitting is a very relaxing hobby, I find. It’s also great hand therapy (I had a stroke some years ago), and I’ve made some great friends through knitting.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Pat A says:

    I’m not a knitter but my daughter is and she tells me that the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival has gone Virtual including the vendors. You can see them and their yarns by joining the Festival through their website.
    https://sheepandwool.org/ I know I’ll be shopping for her.

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