Todays finished project is a testimony and a vindication of those languishing skeins in the stash, skeins that we all believe will (eventually) find their project, their day and their own song.
I really mean to learn
‘Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down when they all should let us be
We belong to you and me
I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You’re the light in my deepest, darkest hour
You’re my savior when I fall
And you may not think I care for you
When you know down inside that I really do
And it’s me you need to show
How deep is your stash?
(Thank you and apologies to Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb for the inspiration and the many hours musical joy)
So often as makers we are pressured or made to feel guilty about our stashed materials, especially those that take a while to mature into a project like the main yarn used in my latest finished project.
The burgundy double knitting bordering on worsted, soft cotton that was the main yarn for this top has been in my stash for 14, perhaps even 15 years. Unlabelled, I’ve never been sure of the yardage and therefore it’s had a hard time pushing itself forward into active consideration for a trip onto, and successfully off, the needles.
However, it had not been languishing unloved or disrespected during that time. Instead every time I’ve come across it I have been reminded of the holiday with friends in Portugal when I bought this yarn. I can date it because my friend’s daughter was just about toddling when the yarn was bought and this year she did wonderfully well in her GCSEs and has just embarked on life as a 6th former. As much fun as she was then, little did I know what a remarkable young woman she would grow into, or that it would take just as long for me to complete a cropped short sleeved sweater with the yarn we both marvelled over that day.
The yarn was bought in a small yarn shop in the town of Sines in Portugal, south of Lisbon and north of the small village in the Alentejo where we were staying. The yarn shop was owned by an older lady who was shutting down and retiring. I fell for the colour and the softness of this cotton. It’s multi-stranded but very loosely plied and has great drape. The main problem was that I didn’t really have enough of this yarn to be confident about being able to start and finish a garment, and looking at this FO, my misgivings on this front were justified.
So what changed for this yarn?
A few things really, time, change of circumstances and accompanying change of wardrobe requirements all played their part.
Having been though a phase when burgundy was not a colour I gravitated to and living in places where the sweaters I wanted to be wearing were woollen rather than cotton, things began to change. When I stopped dyeing my hair various shades of red and reverted to my ever increasing natural grey, I started to consider all shades of red for clothes again. I also moved to a much warmer country where a short sleeved cropped worsted weight cotton sweater would not be an anachronism in the wardrobe. Things were looking up for this yarn and I sought it out from amongst the stash. I also sought out some additional balls of yarn that might work alongside it.
In doing so I found a single skein of multi-coloured yarn that contained speckles of burgundy, but also browns and creams that drew in a single skeins of brown cotton and one of a deep cream. They looked like they had been chosen for each other but were actually a series of fortuitous but unconscious acquisitions.
However, even having these complementary yarns, putting them together was not a smooth process. I paired my Portuguese main yarn with the brown, cream and multi-coloured yarn last year in a colour blocked project. I knit to the same shape and self made pattern as this one making notes as I went and never quite finished it. The knitting was done, but it sat for a year without the ends sewn in. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the colour blocking and felt the sweater was still a bit to cropped. Then when looking for something else in my stash I can cross another skein of the burgundy yarn and with it new possibilities for this yarn.
So I frogged what I had, and rather than colour blocking decided to blend the colours using the most basic of slip stitch patterns swapping the background and foreground colours.
The additional skein I found in the stash also allowed me to lengthen this sweater. As such rather than being the severe crop it was in it’s first incarnation, it is now a semi-cropped with with some short row shaping to lengthen the back, a much more wearable shape for me.
While waiting for the weather to cool down to be able to wear this sweater, it inspired me to return to another project I had planned for some 4 ply cotton that has been in my stash for a little less time, but has also had a previous less than satisfactory start in terms of being knitted up. Ask put the finishing touches to this post, that sweater is waiting to be blocked…
So, how about you? Do you have yarns that have taken so long to find their own song? If so, I’m sure we’d all love to hear about them and be comforted by the realisation we are not alone in this.
Until next time,
All the best,