The Last Five Years

Five years ago, I decided to go on my first Yarn Fast. The reasoning was simple: I wasn’t making items with my stashed yarn. I had lots of rules but essentially, I wasn’t to spend any money on new yarn. I traded and swapped, and it was a really great challenge, but I was happy my year of fasting was over. Then, every yarn store within a 30-minute driving radius shut down.  Sad, yes, but not for long. The Yarn Crawl LA had arrived and I was finally able to attend it! I proceeded to spend half of my annual yarn budget in one day. That’s right, one day. How? Easy. There was a highly comprehensive map from the Yarnover Truck, and I have a penchant for the finer yarns. Thirteen shops, one tank of gas, and a slightly abused debit card later, half my Yarn Cash was gone. A few months after that, I went on a Grand Nerding Adventure in LA where I spent the other half of my Yarn Cash. The second fast ensued. One more year of creativity fostered from my stash, and only my stash. No trades.

Fresh off of my second Yarn Fast, I’m feeling pretty good. I have a few projects lined up for the end of the year, starting with four baby blankets for the babies that will be born between now and then.  In addition, I have a few Christmas presents in mind for my extended family, and a birthday present for 2016 I haven’t decided to make yet. Thinking selfishly, I’d like to make a coat, two cardigans, and a pullover–maybe a turtleneck. Generally speaking, I’d love to make a gansey. Then there’s the 3,000 yd. sweater: a masterpiece made with sock yarn, ribbed for his pleasure. I couldn’t spend that much time and yardage on anyone other than my husband. It’s a daunting task but I’ll get to it. Other projects are floating up in my brain, but I find it best to let them keep floating until they are ready to come down into my tangible world.

Recently, I read a question posed to a knitter: Do you knit for the product or the process? While I’m an immense fan of the product, and goal-oriented, I see myself as a process knitter. I can’t get the product without going through the process. They say getting there is half the battle, and I agree. I’ve been on the ugly end of a project where I didn’t want to even look at the finished sweater; I just wanted it done and gone. I don’t like knitting like that, if I can help it. I feel it takes away from the magic that accompanies a handmade garment. If a piece of me goes into everything I make, I want it to be the best piece of me I can give. I’ve made the call to frog five inches to fix a cable. I’ve counted 1,136 stitches of lace knit in the round to fix a cluster of last night’s belief that I WAS awake enough to finish one more round.  I’ve gotten through the heel turn on a sock to discover the whole thing is too big, and frogged it.  I’ve also found out the ribs on the right front panel of a cardigan wouldn’t match up with the ribs on back. I let that one go. I choose my battles, I’m not completely insane. But, the process is everything.

It starts when I formulate an idea, when I look through books and magazines or I search my Ravelry library for some inspiration. It moves into an elaborate mental list of possible, probable, and realistic yarns, materializing in hanks of yarn physically bookmarking matched patterns. Then I do a personal assessment: How do I feel? Am I up for a big project or a small one? Is there anything with a deadline? I’ll pick a deadline project to start and fun one for back-up. It starts over when I start knitting and decide the yarn would be better suited elsewhere. It’s all part of the process, and I love it.

I never thought of the Yarn Fasts as restrictive. I think they might have improved my creativity.  I mean, MacGuyver never let supply limitations stop him from making things. Why should I? Granted, my problems are different from MacGuyver’s but the same sort of make-it-work logic applies. Ok, so I’m like MacGuyver with the tools and Tim Gunn with the mentality. I can live with that. But, out of the context of the Fast, I am left on my own. The closest yarn shop is a 40-minute drive and the store isn’t nearly as exciting to counteract the drive time, so I’d say I’m pretty safe from shopping binges. The only yarn I buy online is super sale bulk stuff or an occasional mystery box from Craftsy. I much prefer the experience of a shop, anyhow, so I’m safe.

Having imposed a yarn purchasing ban on myself TWICE in the last five years, I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson. My mom always told me, If you didn’t learn the first time, don’t worry: you’ll keep repeating the same lesson until you do. It’s true, too.


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