Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Busting the Stash: Wherein I Advise About How I Begin this Series With A Yarn Purchase

Don't judge. You haven't heard the story yet and I swear that this was all part of the plan. Just check my Ravelry queue notes which were devised days ago!

See, here's the thing: Long ago I bought 2 skeins of Habu Stainless Silk in colourway 4, which is pretty damned brown, as it happens. Allow me to provide you with this well-earned life-advice: There's not much you can do with 600-odd yards of thread-gauge stainless steel coated in silk. That's brown. Ask me how I know. And what you can do is mainly ugly and/or difficult (unless you've got a knitting machine).

So this yarn has been sitting pretty - one might say taking up space - without any hope of being used since 2014. Occasionally I have thought about it. I've thought and mulled and then felt anxious about the dearth of options and then I've opted not to think about it and, you guessed it, yarn still in stash.

This one isn't going to sort itself out by happenstance or luck. There's no way to go slightly off road with a sort-of-relevant pattern to produce a usable garment or accessory. Floss-weight stainless steel requires serious knitting-planning and the one thing I did - all fucking weekend - was seriously plan my knitting.

Here's the pattern I landed on:

Decalage by Julie Hoover
It's one of the very few devised for Habu Stainless silk that also appeals to me and looks easy (if potentially tedious cuz, it's knitting with dental floss). You may recall the last thing I started to knit with dental floss, two years ago, is still only 60 per cent complete as I decided, on dropping stitches semi-regularly - if knitting when simultaneously watching TV - to make it my Montreal train project. Don't worry, I love it, still half-finished as it is, and one day it will be awesomely complete. Point is, knitting with veritable sewing thread can be a process.

But there's nothing to be done. You buy thread, you knit thread.

Alas, if you check out Ms. Hoover's delightful Decalage scarf, the one photographed above, you will discover (as I did) that it is comprised only partially of stainless steel thread. The thing that makes it look like wool is, well, actual wool. Lace-weight merino, to be precise.

So I found myself in a true conundrum which lasted all of 30 seconds before I thought: Woohoo! I get to buy more yarn!! And then I started to plan.

What I ended up with, from Ewe Knit, is a very affordable merino/alpaca blend laceweight yarn called Rowan Fine Lace. It has very little halo, which is why I could get with it, and it feels every bit as soft and drapey as the stainless steel does not. Note: The idea is that the steel, held double with the wool (in interesting colour schemes) produces a finished ombre fabric of malleable properties. It's both soft and delicate (like a cloud) but also structured. What's even better is that I got to use my Ewe Knit yarn points (it's a thing they do) so this yarn cost me practically nothing! I don't know what that says about my yarn habit but work with me...

I bought a mere 2 tiny skeins, the exact yardage required. Gotta love how you get a zillion yards of lace-weight yarn in a ball slightly larger than the size of a deck of cards.

And because, strangely, I bought that stainless silk in a sort of taupe-brown colourway - not one I wear - I was forced to move out of my comfort zone (aka grey or blue). People, I went all mauve and I LOVE it:

The stainless silk is in those cones. The Rowan skeins are in the colours Antique (darker) and Cameo (lighter).

My apologies for the inaccurate photography (the lighter yarn - which looks beige here - is actually the subtlest shade of lavender you've ever seen but having a brown undertone to complement the stainless silk). When it's 6 pm in January there is NO light to be had.

Here are stock shots:

This is the Rowan Fine Lace in Antique

This is the Rowan Fine Lace in Cameo - the photos bring the beige forward but I swear it's as pale as purple gets.

I have a feeling that the finished scarf is going to look like a morning cloud tinged by the sunrise. Lord help me, I'm almost ready to overthrow the INSANELY unpleasant (and maybe ugly) KNUS to get going on knitting with freakin' stainless steel right now. (Yeah, that's how much I dislike working on the KNUS though I cannot bring myself to throw in the towel. Is it that I see potential, still? Or am I too stubborn to cut my losses? Maybe it's that the thought of ripping it all out is giving me virtual hives? I don't know.)

Next post on this topic, I'll tell you all about the 16 stash-busting projects I've found - some of which I intend to knit in triplicate or more! When you have limited yarn, you have fewer pattern options on which to use it.

But, for today, do tell: You can see how I had to buy new to make use of (an admittedly) poorly thought out prior purchase. Has this ever happened to you? Do you like this purchase-net-neutral stash buster pattern? Let's talk!


  1. Really, this is the same philosophy as "You have to spend money to make money" which is entirely true.

    My one foray into the Habu silk/steel was frustrating and unsuccessful partially because I knit a sweater that didn't flatter me and partially because I paired the dental floss with a mohair blend. Just altogether frustrating to knit and impossible to frog. I still have quite a bit of the habu left... shoved into the back of a closet where it will not see the light of day for some time...

    1. It's true! And I totally believe in that philosophy so I'm just going to have to get with this one :-) I'm sorry to hear that you didn't love the yarn - especially as I stand on this side of the precipice. I vaguely remember you writing about it (at least I think I do). I've got to do a little digging through your archives. Sell the rest of that yarn if it's still on the skein. You're unlikely to use it...

    2. My epic rant about the sweater.... http://fivemuses.blogspot.com/2014/04/finished-one-annoying-sweater-preview.html

  2. I think this seems like it will be gorgeous!

  3. Lovely colors, beautiful yarn, totally necessary.

  4. Anne knit up a scarf in that yarn (because the main Habu/Avril store was near where I lived in Japan, I sent her some STRANGE yarns) and she liked it! I think your morning cloud version is going to be just gorgeous!

  5. I'm massively behind with my blog reading, so please forgive the tardiness of this comment. I love this colour combo and think it will look lovely on you. I've always admired habu from afar! You're very brave. And, if you had stash fabric to sew up you'd not bat an eye at purchasing lining, zips, buttons, whatever....so consider the laceweight the knitterly equivalent! ;-)