I’ll give any yarn a try. But I’ve learned some things since my early days of stashing anything I could find that had a pricetag I could afford. You can see looking at my Stash page on Rav: the Traded/Sold/Gifted tab is an ocean of regret. Of course, not all regrets are created equal, and the regret I have at ever having bought Cascade Fixation is different than the regret I have that I gave away things this gorgeous:
But what’s done is done, and what’s gone is gone.
As a beginning knitter, I didn’t really care what I was using. I was just happy to be knitting at all. And my skills weren’t the greatest, so it made sense for me to go for stuff that was cheap, easily accessible, and could be easily frogged, or even thrown away if the frustration got to be too much.
Now that I have more experience and I kind of know what I’m doing, I have an eye for the finer fibers. I’ll still use the bargain-basement stuff and the mass-produced box-store stuff if I have to; I’m making a baby blanket right now out of Michaels’ Loops & Threads, because babies puke and new moms don’t have handwash-only time. It’s not without its annoyances, such as having to run the needles through my hair every few minutes because the acrylic squeaks even on good-quality needles. (One thing I will never cheap out on again is needles. Once you go Dyak, you never go back.)
But at this point, I’ve put up with enough Red Heart; I’m ready for more madelinetosh. Nothing really compares to the loveliness and feel of a good quality wool.
That’s not to say that so-called “good” yarn is always good. Sometimes what you thought you wanted will disappoint you. I understood that all too well when I got a hole in a pair of SweetGeorgia socks within a few months.
Sometimes the yarn you thought was reliable, turns out to be unable to withstand pressure. Case in point: my rarely-worn Skews made of Kroy, which is most often described with the epithet “wears like iron.”
And then there’s the patterns. Something else you might notice from my projects page is that I can be a bit of a dilettante. 379 projects seems like a pretty amazing output over a span of just about 7 years. But that includes 67 frogged projects, items that were in various stages of completion. 18% of what I’ve knit, I’ve unknit.
Out of those projects, 83 were what I’d call “instant-gratification.” Small things like bookmarks, washcloths, headbands, and coasters, as well as hats that took less than a day to complete. (I didn’t include in this count any hats with intricate patterning, crochet hats, or hats made from fingering-weight yarn, because they take longer.)
I love instant-grat projects, because they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something. I can go from cast on to woven-in within a few hours or a weekend, at the most. But what I really love, are socks. And what I really want, are sweaters.
I’m a sweater-knitter trapped in a hat-knitter’s body. I want dozens of hand-knit sweaters for fall and winter, in gray and brown and purple and burgundy and navy and every deep jewel tone imaginable. There are a few problems with that, though:
- I live in Southern California. I don’t live in super Southern California, where it’s pretty much summer all year round. Winters here can get damp and chilly (at least that’s been my experience over the two years I’ve been here), and sweaters are occasionally appropriate. Once I achieve an educational toehold, I plan to relocate to super Southern California (sSC might be easier than saying LA, the Inland Empire, or San Diego), but after that I’d like to travel to all corners of the US (the world, too, if they’ll let me) where my stash and my sweaters will be welcome, and useful. But for the time being, sweaters are not the most practical thing to be knitting.
- Sweater knitting takes time and attention. I can’t give both time and attention to knitting right now. The only knitting I do now is while I read, so it has to be fairly mindless. This is why the baby blanket is perfect: it’s nothing but 20-stitch rows of garter that can knit without thinking about or looking at it. The shaping is easy and gets less and less frequent the further you go. (I’m making a Double Ten-Stitch.) Sweaters require more concentration, at least if you want them to have bust shaping, waist shaping, shoulder shaping, neckline shaping, symmetrical sleeves, or any kind of patterning in the fabric. Those are things I can’t do while I study.
- I want to make a smaller sweater. This is tangential, but one of the reasons I kept frogging my Narragansett, is because the yarn I was using was a gorgeous purple. A purple that, when worn as a sweater, would have made me look like Grimace. I’m not a small woman and probably never will be, but I’m bigger than I’d like, especially in the chestal region. I know the body-positive movement would roast me for this, but I just don’t want to put that much work into something I’d never wear because I don’t find it flattering. So until I am more satisfied with my body (and possibly until after I am able to have a surgical de-enhancement of the chestal region), I’m probably not going to be making too many sweaters, and definitely not any purple ones.
It’s sad, too, because I have several sweater quantities of yarn, and even patterns queued up to pair them with. And it’s really frustrating to see and know what you want, but to be unable to actually do anything about it due to current circumstances. The good thing about yarn is that it’s not going anywhere; it’s in my stash, within reach, packed up and safe (barring moth infestation or house fire). It’s ready for you when you’re ready for it.
In the meantime, I’m just gonna keep making washcloths and coasters and bookmarks. Things that, while useful, are facile and ultimately kind of meaningless. Things that don’t really satisfy me the way a sweater would, but are a good way to keep my hands busy for a couple hours. Sometimes just keeping your hands busy keeps you out of trouble.