October 18, 2009

And this is why I stash

I think non-knitters have trouble with the stash concept. To non-knitters, having yarn and not knitting it means you do not like that yarn.

If a non-knitter gifted that yarn to a knitter, it might seem like the knitter doesn't really like the yarn at all. For example, a particular friend of mine just can't understand why I would ignore the 400 yards of gorgeous cashmere he gave me. He thinks I don't like the cashmere.

Knitters know not liking cashmere is impossible. But I do think there are several factors at work in the stashing and project selection process.

1. Non-knitters don't really understand just how much yarn some of us actually have. There is more yarn in my stash than I could possibly knit in the foreseeable future. Not knitting a particular yarn is, admittedly, at least partially due to the fact that I am a fickle, fickle tramp when it comes to new yarn. But it's also due to the sheer amount of other yarn in the stash. I don't really knit all that much, and I have a shitload of yarn. Therefore, the backlog is substantial.


Monkey, in Fiber Confections hand-dyed merino. Stashed December 2008. Project started July 2009.

2. Sometimes I don't knit precisely because I love the yarn so much. I am waiting for the perfect project that will best complement a particularly gorgeous yarn. Such is the case with my cashmere stash. And honestly, I think some sock yarns are prettier in the skein than they could ever be knit up.


Auracania Ranco, Multy. Yarn stashed April 2008. Unknit.

3. The stash is a constant source of joy and inspiration. I browse my stash the way I browse cookbooks, to remind me of all the possibilities that are out there. And because it just makes me happy. I may not knit something immediately, but visiting my stash reminds me what I could be knitting with. And as I browse patterns, I mentally align pattern to stash, and every now and then there is a spark. The perfect alignment of pattern and yarn and (this is crucial) the desire to knit this particular pattern in this particular yarn immediately.


Chevron Scarf, in J Knits Superwash Me Light Sock, Reno and Colorado colorways. Stashed March 2007. Project started September 2009.

4. Sometimes I just want to knit and not think. I keep self-striping sock yarn on hand for just that urge. A stockinette sock is soothing, like a glass of wine (or three) or a long hot shower. It doesn't challenge me, I don't have to think about how it's going to turn out (cough *toosmall* cough), I don't even need to read a pattern.


Uh, some kind of striping yarn. Maybe Trekking? Meilenweit Megaboots? Purchased at some point, somewhere.

My stash is not just for those rare occasions, when I look at the yarn and know exactly what it must become. Though that is nice. I stash because I like knowing I have something easy to knit. I stash because yarn is beautiful and because it gives me pleasure to look at it and touch it and imagine what it could become.

Also, because I can't pass up nice tweed when it's on sale, but that's another matter entirely.

How about you? Why do you stash? Are you saving up anything particularly juicy?

October 15, 2009

Things I love about California

1. Kelley and Quinn

When my friend Kelley moved from Boston to the Bay Area last year, she (cruelly) sent me a picture of her and BFF Quinn, with the comment "There's someone missing from this picture."

Looking back, that was probably the first moment I seriously considered moving. It took another three months and a particularly vile New England ice storm to finalize my decision. I can say I moved for a better climate, for the amazing local food scene, for a more relaxed vibe, whatever. In the end, my friends were a huge part of why I moved.

2. There are flowers. In the middle of OCTOBER. And crazy Dr. Seuss-looking shit growing everywhere.




3. You can buy booze everywhere, every day of the week, at any time. I still find this so exciting that I refuse to buy booze at an actual liquor store. This is clearly less exciting to everyone else who lives here, because thus far I'm the only one I've seen at CVS buying beer, vodka, gum and tampons.


4. The Farmer's Markets. Dear god.



5. Vosges Bacon Chocolate bars. This has nothing to do with California, except that my local grocery store sells both the milk and dark chocolate varieties. And they are AWESOME.


Plus, their cheese section looks like this:


Oh yeah, did I mention I'm in California?

Yep, I am now a proud resident of Oakland, California in a neighborhood that rates quite highly on the awesomeness scale. Everything I need to be happy in a four block radius: the public library, used bookstores, video stores, a comic shop, bars (in my two favorite flavors: "filthy dive" and "tiki"), a movie theater, a half dozen coffee shops and - get this - a yarn shop.

There's even a weekly knitting group that meets every Saturday, at the library! Which I heard about from my next-door neighbor, who's also a knitter.

Add in fantastic friends who put me up while I was apartment hunting and who ferried me on countless shopping excursions and moved piles and piles of boxes and offered their husbands up for shelf assembly/electronics hook-up duties, and you've got a pretty painless cross-country move. As these things go.

I've even been doing some knitting. But more on that later.