July stash explosion, courtesy of Robyn Chachula

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been really trying to reduce my yarn stash this year.  But, you also know that I find giveaways very hard to resist – and I’m kinda lucky.

So when I saw this giveaway on Robyn Chachula‘s blog, I had to enter.  In my defense, it wasn’t clear exactly how much yarn would be in each of the five goodie bags Robyn was assembling.  Even after winning, I was blissfully ignorant for the next few days.

And then, this arrived.

That’s a mighty big box you got there.

And when I opened it, this is what I saw.

The Mother Lode.

I may have lost consciousness for a few seconds.  But then I came to and took some more pictures.  Here’s what I found inside the box:

Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk (one skein of Quartz) – I haven’t used this yarn before, but I’m a fan of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, and Spud & Chloe Sweater is one of my favorite yarns.

Cascade 220 Superwash (one skein of Cordovan) –  Cascade 220 Superwash is one of my favorite yarns for gifts.   I’m hoping to make this skein  into a hat in time for the winter holidays.

Classic Elite Provence (one skein of Gimlet Green) – This looks like it will be a really lush, mercerized cotton.  I don’t have a project in mind for this yet.

Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection Rosebud from Universal Yarn (one skein of Clover) – To me, this skein has my mom written all over it.  I think it may end up as a gift for her eventually.

Filatura di Crosa Tempo from Tahki Stacy Charles (one skein of Mood Indigo) – I really love the colors on this one.  Now to find the perfect project for it…

Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance (one mini skein of Sencha) – I love that this worker owned cooperative sources all of its yarn in the US.  I’m a sucker for alpaca, and this mini skein is just enough for me to swatch with before choosing a great project.

Lion Brand LB Collection Cotton Bamboo (one skein of Magnolia) – I actually have another skein of this yarn in my stash that I bought at Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  The colors would work nicely together.

Red Heart Boutique Eclipse (one skein of Sunset) – I’ve been having a lot of fun with self-striping yarns lately.

Sirdar Click Dk (one skein of Tarn) – This reminds me of a discontinued yarn I worked with about ten years ago – it has a similarly subtle color and soft feel.

Zealana Kia Ora Kiwi (one skein of Aurora Pink) – I’m so intrigued by the possom in this yarn!  Zealana is having a big design contest right now – perhaps this will get my ideas flowing?

Besides the ten (!) skeins of yarn, there were some other goodies in the box.

A signed copy of Robyn’s Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little Ones – Looks like I’ll have plenty of ideas for the next time one of my friends or colleagues is pregnant.

A super cute Craftsy needle measure and gauge ruler – I used this to check gauge on my sock project.

A Crochet Dude crochet hook –  I love Boye hooks, so I’m looking forward to using this one on my next project.

A notions case –  I’ve been using this to store all the goodies for the socks I’m making for the Ravellenic Games.  It is the only one I have long enough to fit the size 1 double pointed needle I’ll be using as a cable needle.

A circular Susan Bates Velocity knitting needle – This looks like just the right size for subway knitting.


Thanks, Robyn, for sharing all of these wonderful goodies with me!  It certainly didn’t help with my stashbusting efforts, but I’m thrilled nonetheless.

Holiday Stashdown Challenge – Week 2

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting. You can read more details here.)

I’ve reached the point in life where I’m feeling overwhelmed by stuff.  This might be due to the fact that we’re living in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, or it might be because I’ve been trying to live more minimally.  Although I’ve reduced my stash by one full 60 quart plastic tub so far this year, I still have quite a few yarns with no intended purpose that I’m putting into the maybe list for gifts.

From left to right: Dream in Color in Spring Tickle, Malabrigo Rios in Glazed Carrot (in progress as a hat for JP), Malabrigo Rios in Primavera, and Dream in Color in Happy Forest.
Ron by Nude Ewe.
Back to front: Bitsy Knits Aquamarine and mystery colorway.
Nancy’s Hair by No Two Snowflakes.
Emerald Forest by A Stash Addict.


Joseph Galler, Inc. Hirten-Tweed, a vintage yarn from my grandmother’s stash that’s being made into the Pineapple Doily Shawl by Laura Garsten.
LB Collection Superwash Merino in Cayenne and Spring Leaf.

Other yarns that aren’t pictured include:

I also found a pair of Slipper Soles in my sister’s size.  Since I have fewer skeins that I’d like to use for holiday gifts than people on my gift list, I’m sure I will end up buying yarn at some point.  But for now, this will give me a great start.
I read a great post by FreshStitches yesterday about using the stash feature on Ravelry, so my plan for the next week is to try and link up some of these yarns with patterns and project ideas.
I will mention here that I had a super awesome post written, but I lost everything.  This is the best re-write I could muster after midnight.
Tell us all about the yarns you plan to use or buy for the Holiday Stashdown Challenge in the comments, and share links to your posts with us!
If you need some inspiration for a Holiday Stashdown Challenge post for next week, here’s the prompt for Tuesday, 5/29:
Now that you’ve sized up the yarn in your stash and the people on your gift list, what types of projects do you plan to make?  Are you making the same type of (or the same exact) project for multiple people, or does everyone get something unique?  Do you have lofty project goals for everyone on your list, or do you make small gifts with love?  Tell us more about your project ideas!

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Tartans & Plaids Class with Jenny King

This post contains affiliate links.

This post is part of my Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class series.  You can find my other posts in this series here.

Last Sunday, I woke up early instead of sleeping in, packed up my yarn and crochet kit, and headed down to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio to take two classes during Crochet Masters weekend.

There’s a scaffolding in front of the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, just like every other building in New York City.

My first class was Tartans & Plaids with Jenny King.  Jenny’s is the woven crochet master featured in Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters and has self-published 15 books on tartan rugs (also known as plaid blankets in the U.S.).  Jenny lives in Queensland, Australia, where she operates a yarn shop in addition to designing crochet patterns.  Although Jenny is a prolific and well established designer, her name only recently came to my attention as the author of Learn to Do Bavarian Crochet.

I read more about Jenny in Crochet Master Class but was dubious about creating my own woven plaid crochet project.  Full disclosure: I was a plaid fanatic in high school (perhaps because I never wore a Catholic school uniform like my cousins? or maybe it was just the grunge years?), but I have never had much success with crocheting plaids – they always come out messy, or skimpy looking.  I am also not down with fringe, so that fringe finish on crocheted plaids never really wowed me.

I was very excited to see that Jenny would be in New York City teaching, but even her pedigree as a designer didn’t completely convince me that she could actually teach me to make attractive and full looking crocheted plaids in three hours.  Let’s be honest – some people are great designers and some people are great teachers, and only a few are both.  Luckily for me, Jenny is one of those few!

Jenny opened the class by sharing some historical details about Scottish tartans.  She has designed about 200 crochet patterns that feature the plaids of various clans.  The project for the class was based on the Fire Department, City of New York (FDNY) Emerald Society Pipe Band plaid, which was a very nice local touch.  Making the mesh base was simple enough, and Jenny provided me (and the rest of the class, of course) with a few tips for joining colors and keeping our ends tidy.

The mesh I made in class.

Jenny also has a great sense of humor.  She kept the class lively by sharing anecdotes and tips.  She also admonished us, “You have to check with Jenny before ripping out!” and “Don’t point out your mistakes!”  She also told us that she has never made a gauge swatch (egads!  It’s like designer sacrilege!).

Finally, with mesh complete, we were ready to start weaving.

The Tartan Weaver.

Jenny introduced us to the Tartan Weaver, a great tool that makes weaving much easier and faster.  Her method uses chains rather than strips of yarn for weaving, and she also shared quite a few tips for sizing and weaving the ends of the woven chains.

Doesn’t this look look great? My first four woven chain strips, completed in class.

I left the class feeling pretty good.  Finally, a plaid project that is neat looking and where the woven strips actually fit into the mesh!  I decided to order two of Jenny’s books, The Tartan Rug and U.S.A. and Canadian Plaid Afghans, from her website.  I’m particularly looking forward to the Black Watch pattern, since that has always been my favorite plaid.

I’ve made a bit of progress since class.  I made another mesh and all of my green chains and my white chains.

I still have to make my black and blue chains.

After the two meshes are woven, I plan to join them and make a small, decorative pillow.  Thanks, Jenny King, for teaching me how to make plaids that don’t suck!

For more Year of Projects posts, check out When Did I Become a Knitter.

Edited to add: Lion Brand Yarn Studio updated their blog with a slide show of pictures from the Crochet Masters weekend.  You can see me in picture 15 from the night of the book signing (I’m crocheting in the second row in the picture with a blue top), in picture 31 (to the left of Margaret Hubert in her Freeform class picture), and in picture 37 (as the last student on the left side).

…and, a little shopping

I didn’t use the recommended Lion Brand yarns for my project.  As I mentioned, I’ve cut back on buying acrylic yarn, and the Lion Brand Yarn Studio was out of Lion Wool when I bought the supplies for the class.  I ended up using an old skein of Bernat Lana I had laying around the house and some Patons Classic Wool in the recommended colors purchased at Michaels.

I felt a bit guilty since I know that the main reason the Lion Brand Yarn Studio offers over 100 classes per month is to sell yarn.  So I decided to go shopping in the store and spend about as much as I would have spent on buying the yarn there.  I bought two skeins of LB Collection Superwash Merino.

Cayenne and Spring Leaf.

And I decided to test out this sweater stone.

Hopefully, this will rescue my beloved scrapghan, which suffered a terrible pilling fate when accidentally washed with a ripped comforter.

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.