Monthly Archives: August 2014

Finishing line

It’s been stockinette sweater central around here at Knitting To Stay Sane. In my zeal to knit up more than one sample each of the stockinette cardigan & pullover pattern I’ve been finishing up (just a straight-up ‘this is my kind of basic sweater’ kind of deal), I’ve been churning through the knitted pieces themselves pretty quickly and am now finally going back for some finishing. I tend to follow the process of washing & blocking the knitted pieces first, and then I do the sewing up and button-bands and what have you. I started knitting sweater #4 before even doing the blocking on #2 or #3, and now the sweater finishing factory has started in the evenings.

With my house in a bit of disarray it was firstly a challenge to find both the materials for blocking (the foam mats and blocking pins were in a room that got packed up to facilitate the repairs), and secondly to find a section of the house with intact floor space big enough to lay out the blocking mats on. Thankfully this is finally improving, and progress is being made (both in the knitting and the floors, I’m glad to say).

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I’ve done finishing on quite a few sweaters in the near-decade I’ve been knitting, and I’m pleased to say it has gotten quicker and easier over time. I was remembering one of the sweaters I sewed up many years ago when I first learned how to do a vertical seam properly (like for the sides of sweaters, sleeve seams, etc), and that was AMAZING. I don’t know what kind of mess I’d been making before, but I do remember it being a pretty transformative thing. Man, properly executing a finishing technique in knitting is a levelling-up moment like nothing else. And then when you see all your side decreases line up in neat little pairs, it’s so satisfying.

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Every knitting project has some kind of finishing involved, even if it’s just a hat or sock knitted in the round that needs a few ends sewn in. Because I tend to prefer sweaters constructed in pieces from the bottom up (I like the portability and compartmentalization of progress that comes from working in pieces), there is always more finishing to do on sweaters. It somehow manages to take me by surprise a bit every time (oh right, i still have to sew it up) while still remaining comfortably familiar.

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My perspective on sweater finishing is that it isn’t so much difficult as it is multi-staged. There are vertical seams for sleeves and sides, horizontal seams for shoulders and under-arms, picking up stitches for button-bands and collars (which I also have a photo tutorial for on the blog, bee-tee-dubs), and oh so many ways to do button-holes. We get better at everything with practice, thankfully.

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There is also very rarely only one way to do anything in terms of finishing techniques for knitting, so even if you’ve found a vertical seam method that you really love forever, you might just as well find yourself next to someone at knit night who does it totally differently and that’s fine too. Thankfully there are about a zillion reference books for knitters out there, which is a good thing. Finishing techniques are often something that knitting patterns won’t stop and pull you aside to explain, so it never hurts to be prepared.

Long story short: back I go to the seaming mines. Hopefully with 2 more completed-for-real sweaters some time this weekend!

Happy Thursday knitter friends, may the seaming odds be ever in your favour.

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Constant vigilance

A month ago when I returned home from vacation to discover water damage over about half of my house, one silver lining was that my yarn wasn’t harmed. It was in a totally different part of the house than what was damaged, and so my stash emerged untraumatized. (The rest of the house is still being put back together again, which is a whole other cranky story, but I digress).

The experience was enough of a cautionary tale over what could happen, though, particularly since a large portion of my stash lives in cubby shelves with nothing to protect it from the elements other than karma. I tend to sort through my stash a couple of times a year and have been lucky so far (knocking on all the wood right now) that moth damage hasn’t occurred, never mind a leaky roof or something, but you just never know what could happen down the line.

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So, yesterday I armed myself with 30 extra-large freezer bags (each large enough for about ten 100g skeins of yarn) and started bagging things up. I also don’t mind admitting that I’ll be going back for more bags – both because I didn’t quite get it all covered yesterday, and also to get some reinforcements for a few wool sweaters that live in my closet. Protection is the name of the game!

New stash

I’m willing to still leave a few stashed skeins loose and visible in each cubby, because it’s pretty like that and still reminds me of a few projects’ worth of yarn at a time. But man oh man I am going to sleep better at night knowing there’s at least a thin layer of plastic protecting this stuff. This is almost a decade’s worth of yarn collecting right here.

Some of it, like the Louet Riverstone worsted (below) and the Green Mountain Spinnery ‘wonderfully wooly’ worsted (top), are now discontinued yarns and I won’t be able to buy them again. It’s reassuring to know I bought enough of them at the time to be able to get a full sweater out of each of them. A lot of yarn world is steady and seems like it’ll go on forever supplying the same yarns over and over, but really, none of yarn world lasts forever. It’s the sort of thing that makes me feel OK about having a stash in the first place.

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I still like these yarns. If there are things in my stash that I genuinely know I won’t use or feel uncertain about keeping, I will give them away or donate them and I will sleep well after doing so. But the ones I enjoy and want to keep dreaming about projects for, I like keeping. I’ve got a lot of yarn and I’m okay with that.

In fact, bagging everything up yesterday made me feel pretty good about most of what I own, and I remembered a lot of project ideas that went along with various purchases. Right now, if I could do nothing but knit sweaters from stash for a month or two, that would be all right with me. Yarrrrn.

From the stash

Really, this is something I should have done ages ago and I’m lucky to have this much yarn go unscathed for so long.

Do you have a yarn protection system in place? How do you organize your stash?

Happy knitting this Monday afternoon!

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