Friday, January 14, 2005

Hostage Situation

Further thinking about the stash has revealed that I am being held hostage by certain elements within my stash. This includes: yarns that are too luxurious to go into just any old garment, fiber that's too beautiful to spin, and fabric (both handwoven and commercial) that defies being cut into pieces for a garment.

On the left, Cleckheaton Merino 8 ply. On right Grinasco Diamante: 85% cashmere, 15% merino wool.
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Note the photo above. The purple yarn (which is a little more grape than the picture shows) was purchased for an aran style sweater quite sometime ago. But the yarn is so buttery soft, I have fears of any cable/texture patterning getting lost in the fabric, not to mention the fact that soft yarns aren't particularly hardwearing. Each time I take out that bag of yarn, a mental picture of an indistinct cable pattern with unsightly pills forming over the wear areas causes me to put the yarn right back on the shelf. I still love the yarn and have half decided to make a diamond cable and lace sweater design by Donna Kay from the winter 2003-04 issue of Cast-On with it. Now the other half of me has to come to agreement with that plan.

The pink yarn is a luscious cashmere yarn that was purchased with my 10% birthday discount at Old Village Yarn Shop back when I was a somewhat younger woman. Again, this yarn is very soft, likely to pill, and show texture stitches poorly. I did have a sweater in mind when I purchased the yarn, but have since decided that it would be unflattering. There's not quite enough yardage for a complete sweater, but there is plenty of yardage for a vest, like one of the lacy vests in A Gathering of Lace . However, it might have a longer life if it were knitted into a long rectangular shawl like of some of those in Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book. But once again, I am undecided.!
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Then there are the spinning fibers. It's hard to imagine a yarn spun from the Treetops Harmonies silk that will show off the colors in the same stunning way as the sliver. I envision a lovely variegated singles yarn used to weave the most luxurious scarf. But there's not a huge quantity, so how do I sample without using up all of the sliver in samples?!

And the silk brick: To begin spinning will mean miles and miles of white. Not that white is so bad...but, that's a lot of white for someone who looks better in colors. To dye the silk means that it will need to be prepped for spinning again. So would I run it through the drum carder or use mini-combs? And what would be the intended use of the resulting yarn?

This is just a small sample of my "captors": really nice stuff that deserves to be made into even nicer stuff. Am I up to the task? I certainly have the techinical skill to pull it off, but it seems my self confidence about design decisions is lacking.

I think I need to tackle these hostage chains one link at a time. Begin by sampling with one daunting stash member per month and see if I can move it toward project status. Now...which one do I start with? Decisiveness...that's the next hurdle!


  1. Hi Valerie;

    I'm going to be harsh and blunt. I'm from New Jersey I can't be any other way. Your stash members are truly lovely but use them. If you die tonight will the surving members of your family notice the softness or just see it as yarn and toss it on the discard pile?


  2. WHy not just spin the silk brick as white, then dye the resulting yarn? That way you don't have to re-prep for spinning, and you still get color!

  3. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Oh how I know about this hostage situation. And I agree with Mary Ellen in theory. I even listed the stash I may not get to and who will inherit in my will (does that tell you something?). I hope I can be a enabling friendly ghost in order to haunt the recipient to see what she comes up with. Cathy

  4. I knit an aran with soft, soft merino. The stitch definition is pretty good, but the pilling is terrible. And I agree with Sue - spin the silk as is and dye the spun yarn.

  5. The Cleckheaton Merino shows cables beautifully. And I have the half finished cabled cardigan to prove it. I haven't seen any pilling yet--despite several years of storage.


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