September 2021 Studio Hours Recap: Stash

29 September 2021
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By Sarah Thornton
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One of the perks available to Studio Members of Digits & Threads is a monthly virtual gathering. After teasers about new articles and behind-the-scenes enhancements to the D&T website, we launch into the main event. Some months there’s a program (like spindles and spinning with Michelle Boyd, and Indigenous beading with Malinda Gray). Other months provide opportunities for socializing and sharing knowledge on a theme (like best practices for laundering handmade items, and natural dye experiments).

This month, about twenty-five Studio Members worldwide came together and we had a lively chat about stash – whats in our bins, how we manage it, and what we do with it! 

Heres a quick recap of what we covered. Maybe youd like to join us next month?

Many of us use online databases to help us stay organized. AirTable was recommended as another option beyond Ravelry, especially useful if you are cataloging craft supplies other than yarn (fabric stash, anyone?). 

We were impressed with the one member who, once a year, goes through her unfinished knitting/crochet projects—if she hasnt worked on the project during the year, it gets frogged (ripped out), and the yarns returned to stash. Of course, the exclamation Ruthless!” was quickly typed into the chat box!

A few members dont keep a stash–they buy for each project individually. Others make kits from their own stashes: As one member remarked, I buy yarn that inspires me and then every so often I go through my patterns and match things up so that I have projects ready to go.”

We talked about using the good stuff,” that sometimes saving things until you feel “good enough” misfires. One member said that by the time they felt ready, they realized that the material wasn’t appropriate for what they imagined anyway. Of course, if you wait too long, its also possible the moths might get into it first. Use the good stuff and enjoy it!

Heres a sampling of ideas for what to do with small bits of leftover yarns and those larger odd balls too:

  • Toys and small monsters, both knitted and crocheted, use small amounts of yarn and are also great for experimenting with new techniques. Check out Nerwin and the MochiMochi (Nerwin stopped by to visit my breakout room!)
  • Hunter Hammerson has some really fun small knitted object patterns, like an envelope, small buildings, and more recently a fox, an owl and a witchs hat.
  • Churchmouse Yarns has sweet little elves that dont take much yarn.
  • Holiday ornaments are great places to use sock yarn scraps.
  • Scraps can be used in Alzheimer’s twiddle mitts (see this CBC article) or other charity projects. You could add a touch of colourwork to hats or socks – this only needs a few metres of contrasting yarn.
  • Crochet lends itself well to using up short bits as you can weave in the ends as you go. Granny squares–originally designed to use up scraps–only need a tiny bit for the centres, more as you move outwards. Cotton dishcloths use only small amounts. And ripple or zig zag blankets can grow as you add scraps from every project.
  • Weaving also works! Pin looms (such as the Schacht Zoom Looms) take about 8 m of yarn for one square. Attach a bunch together and you can make a blanket or a vest!
  • Of course, if you are knitting with short amounts, you will need a good method to deal with all the ends. Kate shared an article she wrote on yarn joins: https://www.moderndailyknitting.com/2018/09/28/techniques-in-depth-tie-or-die/
  • That said, there are also projects that celebrate the yarn ends – you could try a lengthwise scarf (pdf link) where you switch yarns at the end of every row and the ends become the fringe.
  • Sock yarn scraps have so many uses. They can be great for Swiss darning, for scrappy striped socks, and for modular blankets (check out this amazing Beekeeper’s Quilt made by Hollis mum). Dont forget that you can always double-strand to make yarns work up more quickly! Some of Kaffe Fassetts old patterns use two or three yarns held together and let the colours overlap. It’s a great way to use single balls of yarn.

And if you are ready to part with your stash? Check out the Little Fibre Libraries in the Vancouver area where you can pop in a ball of yarn or take one.

I wonder what Kate and Kim have planned for us next month!

Featured image by Mel Poole on Unsplash.

Sarah Thornton head shot

About Sarah Thornton

Sarah Thornton is a connector - she loves bringing people and ideas together, especially over local fibres and foods. When not teaching college Biology labs, she knits, spins, designs, teaches, and occasionally weaves in her new studio space on Vancouver Island. She's also a cyclist, skier, hiker, and gardener! Find her patterns and classes at sarahthornton.ca and @sarsbarknits on Instagram.

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