Sunday, April 10, 2016

More is Less

The key to staying on top of the yarn stash is in the planning. It doesn't pay to think one-project at a time. It also doesn't pay to be too spontaneous about one's next knit. Cuz it's only when you plan that you will have the ability to consider how to use up the entirety of your newly purchased yardage.

My fussiness just gained a new dimension. Now, not only must I love the yarn (and must the yarn be gorgeous to the feel and having the appropriate drape) but I've got to be able to apply it to at least 2 projects, lest I get stuck with half a skein I cannot easily repurpose.

For example: Usually, when I want to make a pair of socks, I go for the wackiest yarn I can find. Sock yarn tends to come in 425 yard skeins. I never use more than 275 yards (and generally I use 250) to make a pair. That means I'm stuck with half a sock worth of crazy-coloured, variegated yarn that will sit there till I come up with some sub-optimal, stash-bust hat or mitt project.

Here's what I've learned from looking at 15 or so of these skein remnants:
  • I'm not interested in using the sock yarn for hats. It's a rare hat project that interests me, particularly in crazy colourways. 
  • I can't find sock yarn in 250 yard skeins. I've tried. I can find 175 yard skeins (Koigu - and they come in gorgeous solid colours, see that purple below) but even as I love Koigu, I don't find that it wears particularly hard. 
  • That's something that I'm going to have to try to get with because Koigu is awesome for other projects and - remember - I really don't want leftovers.
  • Solid colours are much more practical than variegated yarns because you can mix and match them (particularly if you're using the same brand/yarn in an alternative colour). Stripes are endlessly chic and they keep a project interesting. Furthermore, choosing your own colours to stripe is engaging and you get to make it up.
  •  Using 2 colours on a sock may be the way to go because it's easier to find 125 yard remnants than 250 - as long as the yarns coordinate.
  • Yarn coordination really is the key. So, my goal in the future is to either buy 3 skeins of Koigu KPM (to get 2 pairs of socks) OR to buy enough fingering-weight yarn for one project (i.e., a sweater) so that there's enough left over for another project (namely, a pair of socks). That's tougher than it sounds because sock yarn is generally superwash (pref. with a bit of nylon for strength) and I don't want to make a sweater out of superwash yarn, ever again.
In the end, I landed on this combo to make, first, another version of the tremendously enjoyable Foolproof cowl. :

I do love the colour contrast going on.

That's madelinetosh Tosh Sock (in Antique Lace) and Koigu KPM (in 5414). It's a spectacular combo - each yarn is 2-ply twist with more or less the same feel. They're exactly equal in girth and spring. The only discernible diff is that the Tosh Sock has more slip (it's a bit drapier). Both are 100% merino - not superwash but also no nylon.

The remainder of yarn from the Foolproof should get me, more or less exactly, a pair of socks. And then I'll see how well this combo wears (nylon-free and non-superwash). I mean, they're both designed for socks, after all.

Seriously, isn't this yarn gorgeous??

I also want to make another Circular Vest. This garment is so versatile and so complimented! But I want to make it with a drapier yarn than Lett Lopi, per my last post on the subject. I was considering Quince Osprey (I've never yet worked with aran-weight Quince yarn) because I need drape, but recovery. Quince has that in spades, at least in its lighter-weight yarns, in part because it's not wash and dry. Though I love Quince, and use it often, it's just not luxe in the way some other yarns are - the kind I'm craving right now.

Here's where this story gets kind of bizarre. A couple of years ago I bought some madelinetosh Vintage to make Miranda this scarf:

I had 140 yards left over that's been sitting in my stash. See that grey-mauve ribbing? It's a pretty accurate representation of the colour - a Tosh Vintage, hand-dyed shade called Tern. Vintage is a highly-spun worsted-weight yarn but it feels more like aran because it's very plump with twist.

Below, you'll find a photo, taken yesterday, of the Tosh (again, Tern colourway = the centre ball and the skein at the left side of the photo). It's accompanied, on the right-hand side, by another yarn altogether - Biscotte & cie in Solid Gris, also heavy worsted-weight.

This photo gives a sense of the lush, plumpness of the yarn and the sheen. But it makes it look much more grey (and much less mauve-undertoned) than it is
Don't these yarns look exactly the same???

You might be wondering how is it that I now have an unwound ball of the Vintage, in addition to the remant and the Biscotte & cie. Well, turns out there was one skein left of the Tosh in the Tern colour at my LYS (Eweknit). I'm sure this stray-ball from 3 years ago was waiting for me. But, even with the second ball, I was 200 yards short to make the Circular Vest. That's where the Biscotte came in.

Here's a shot of the Biscotte label:

This Quebec-made yarn is gorgeous and tightly spun - much like Tosh Vintage. It's exactly the same shade of hand-dyed grey meets mauve as the Vintage. I've never actually seen two yarns from different brands match each other so perfectly. The only distinction is in the texture. Biscotte yarn has a bit of cashmere and nylon, and isn't superwash, while Vintage is. (Yeah, I know I'm against superwash for sweater-like garments but the Tosh doesn't grow like other superwash yarns and it truly is amazing. Not to mention that making the vest with it will provide me with a great way to use my remaining Tern stash in a much more exciting way than otherwise I would have been able to.) The Biscotte is a bit firmer - it's got less drape -and very slightly slimmer than the Vintage but, visually, this is imperceptible. I wasn't thrilled to find my 115g ball weighed only 111g, but c'est la vie.

I intend to stripe every 2 rows to ensure that the yarns integrate seamlessly. Happily, the Biscotte should tone down any potential drape-drag of the superwash Vintage. And, with this project, every yard of yarn should go!

So, for 125 bucks (given a frequent-buyer, 20-dollar discount) I've got 3 projects planned with no remnants to worry about: a totally wearable vest, a great cowl and a pair of 2-tone socks. That's a sweet deal given that I bought very good yarn (Tosh, Koigu, Biscotte).

Alas, this isn't all the spending on yarn I did yesterday. The rest is the subject of my next post, still in keeping with my stash-busting ethic. Till then...


  1. That is a *very* sweet deal. Well done!

  2. That colour match is insane. I love your plan and and agree that that is a very sweet deal indeed.