Hello!  And how are you on this … [looks out of the window] … drab and dreary Wednesday morning?  The wind is rattling the windows and the rain is bouncing off the patio flags so I’ve persuaded the dog that it’s best to stay indoors for now.  He’s snoring on his bed by the Aga so I think he agrees with me!

This was taken earlier this week on one of our walks – this is usually nothing more than a small overflow stream but all the rain (I was so upset, it started out as beautiful, big, fat snowflakes and within an hour was torrential rain) has caused flooding in lots of areas.  I could do with speaking to whoever controls the weather because they’re not getting it right!  Still, at least the ducks seemed happy.

Thank you very much for all your lovely comments on last week’s no-nylon review, I do appreciate you taking the time to write to me.  I’ve got more socks to show you … I’ve got my Whistlebare no-nylon socks on today and they’re fab!  They’ve been through the washing machine (at 30 degrees, not the handwash cycle which I’m now recommending for no-nylon yarns, oops! – but they’re OK) and if anything the wash has made them even nicer.  The yarn has relaxed a little so that it was easy for me to get them on my feet and they’re very soft and cosy.  I took this photo the other day when I had them on so at least you can see the colour properly – it’s such a dull day that all the other photos in this post are taken with the lights on!

I’ve finished these socks too, now.  These are my New Leaf socks and although I finished them a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been waiting for some decent weather so that I can get outside and take some photos to go with the pattern that I’ve written up for them.  I’m still waiting.  So, in the meantime, here they are on the blockers so that you can see them (I use adjustable blockers which pull the socks in slightly on the foot when they’re not wet in case you’re wondering about that!)

New Leaf socks

The yarn is a blend of Alpaca and Bluefaced Leicester and Teeswater and feels lovely and really rather special, although I think I said whilst I was knitting them that this isn’t a yarn for beginners as it was a bit splitty in places and doesn’t particularly like being frogged – interestingly, I was catching up with the KnitBritish podcast (I’m rubbish at remembering to listen to podcast episodes as they come out and then have to catch up later) and Louise felt the same way so it was good to know that it wasn’t just me!  Since then, Jane from New Leaf Yarns has sent me a sample of the second spin of this yarn which is more tightly spun and has less halo (fluffiness) which might make it more of a beginners’ option.  I’ve not had time to try it out yet but I will make sure I’ve done that by the time I write up my no-nylon review of the yarn later in the year.

This week, I’m back to my husband’s black socks which are not the most exciting socks in the world to knit, but I do love seeing him in my hand knits and he loves them on his feet so they’re worth the effort.  I’ve got plans for so many pairs of socks this year that my mind is running faster than my fingers at the moment, so it’s a case of having my knitting to hand all the time and picking it up for even a few stitches whenever I can.  No, it’s absolutely not procrastinating; knitting helps me think and as well as talking to you I’ve got an article to work on this morning for publication later in the year so it’s good for me to do a couple of rounds to help get my thoughts into gear.  And you always need a brew when you’re thinking/writing/doing anything at all so I’m all sorted!

I’ve amazed myself by sticking to my resolution to get to grips with the contents of our house this year and have done some more decluttering.  Some of it has even been in the garden which is long over-due although since the weekend that I managed to get out there, it’s rained ever since so I’ve not been able to do any more.

This week, I’ve been sorting out my stash.  “Stash” is an interesting word, isn’t it?  For me, it generally makes me think of yarn that I’ve bought and haven’t used yet; I do try not to buy yarn that I don’t have a plan for as (as I’ve said before) I don’t like the idea of being run over by a bus and my family not knowing what to do with all my yarn; but also, it’s a really bad financial investment to have thousands of pounds’ worth of yarn stacked up around the house that’s never going to become anything.  And hang on just a minute – before you say “I don’t have thousands of pounds’ worth of yarn in my house!”, you may not but others do, and it’s so easy to spend money without thinking too much about it at yarn festivals or when we’re tempted online because yarn is our hobby and increases our wellbeing.  Did you know that the most hoarded items by women are clothes, books and yarn?  I don’t like to think that I’m so predictable, but when my husband (who had been to a mental health lecture) told me about this, I couldn’t help but agree with him.  

The other thing, of course, is that if we never use our beautiful hand-dyed yarns then we never share the projects with others who might use those pictures to choose yarn from that dyer as well – customers’ projects are their advertisement boards and if their yarns are being used as insulation … just saying! 🙂

So, back to my stash.  Yes, I do have a stash of yarns, some with and some without a specific project allocated to them, but my stash also includes lots of leftovers.  I do have intentions of knitting a sock yarn blanket, and I did start one a couple of years ago (actually, I’ve just been back through the archives to find it and I’m embarrassed to tell you it was nearly 5 years ago!) and it’s also useful to have leftovers for scrappy socks and for swatching new patterns so there is a point to me keeping it – it’s just that there are bits of it all over the place!  I find odd little balls in project bags and baskets and I decided that it was time to put it all together in one box so that I know where it is.  I mentioned this to Lucy who has become my unofficial “accountability partner” for my decluttering (that is, I keep sending her photos saying “look what I’ve thrown out now” and she cheers me on and never says “please stop sending me all these photos”, even if that’s what she’s thinking 🙂 ) and she wondered if I was in fact just re-shaping and re-grouping my mess rather than actually dealing with it.  Not at all!  

I’m having a lovely time with my new yarn winder

and there’s no hint of procrastination in winding the yarn up into balls instead of deciding whether I really need to keep it or not.  I’ve resisted buying one of these winders for a long time because I like hand-wound balls but there’s no getting away from the fact that cakes do stack neatly on top of each other and it’s much faster to use this than to hand-wind everything.  Also, I know that once my yarn is sorted I won’t need to use the winder very often so I didn’t want to buy an expensive one but …

You get what you pay for, right?  

There’s been a bit of muttering and a few rude words .

The yarn guide at the back folds in for easy storage and during the winding process (I’m sure it’s not just me being over-enthusiastic), the vibration moves the yarn guide and it drops which gets the yarn caught in the mechanism.  I tried shouting at it (never works), Blu-tack (not bad but didn’t really solve the problem) and finally a piece of kindling which was just the right size to slot into the gap and stop the guide from moving.  Perfect!

There is no need for you to ever see what was in this box before I starting winding my yarns, so instead behold the wonder that is neatly caked yarn …

Yes, yes, there is a ball of yarn in there but it was too small to cake.  Can you see it? 
It’s your “Where’s Wally Woolly?” challenge for today 🙂

and more than that, yarn that is labelled so that I even know what it is instead of having to try to remember!  Can this get any better?

I’ve even labelled the yarns without ball bands …

although some of that is rather vague …

the point is that now all my leftovers fit neatly into this box – that’s what was in the box before plus all the leftovers from more recent makes – and I know what and where it all is.  It means that I’ve emptied my project bags which now all fit into the baskets that were previously stuffed with leftover yarn and there are gaps on my shelves!  Reshaping, regrouping, decluttering, call it what you will but I’m very pleased with myself and am virtuously resisting the temptation to buy more yarn to fill the space (Nature abhors a vacuum, after all!).  Hooray!

Right then, it’s been lovely to chat to you but it’s time for another brew and to get stuck into this article I need to write (Purls of Wisdom in Simply Knitting magazine in case you want to look out for it! 😉 ).  If you’re in the North East of England then don’t forget that I’m up your way this Saturday (27 January) at Woolaballoo in Langley Park so if you’re free, do come over to show me your socks, ask questions or just say hello 🙂 

Woolaballoo, The Dartmoor Suite, The Courtyard, Front Street, Langley Park, Durham, DH7 9XE 

(The yarn pictured is KnitPicks Felici – the photo is one of Lucy from Woolaballoo’s – you know it’s not mine as the socks don’t match 😉 )

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27 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Hmmm! When you finish your decluttering, can you pop round and do mine? Lacking focus here. The sock yarn isn't the problem, I've been really disciplined about that, it's the inherited stuff that breeds! Well meaning people who pass things on because someone has passed away or because they are decluttering…..! Also, I may have a bit of a problem with patchwork fabric….just a small problem….well, maybe medium sized!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Inherited stuff is terrible, and so hard to part with too because of the memories that they hold. I'm leaving that until last! xx

  2. selina says:

    yeh, am a yarn hoarder too; can't help myself, they put out specials i just have to buy them! i only buy from one source atm; i have jumpers & cardigans planned for most of it :)) some i just bought one of each colour & those will be beanies & mitts
    i need more storage boxes & more project bags to put everything in
    love the post
    thanx for sharing

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think that as long as you have a plan for the yarn it's fine, it just seems a shame to buy it without any intention of using it – I must confess that I have a few skeins like that which I bought because it felt rude not to (can't leave a yarn shop without a purchase!) but I will do my best to use them up! xx

  3. happy hooker says:

    Yes, guilty too. My stash has all sorts of yarn, as I used to take commissions from work colleagues for everything from jumpers to toys, so used all weights and types of yarn. The plan is to knit some twiddle muffs, to use some of the oddments – when I can get round to it. I've been trying to do a bit in the garden too, but the weather has been a bit too cold, wet and windy for me. Still, not long to wait now for Spring…
    BTW as soon as I saw the photo of the Woolaballoo socks I knew they weren't yours. Christine wouldn't have odd socks – no way! Although they are gorgeous!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Twiddlemuffs are a great idea! I've decided to re-home some of the yarn that I've found which I know I'm never going to use so hopefully someone else can get some pleasure from it – and it's a bit less for me to store! xx

  4. Julie says:

    Loving the box full of yarn cakes, perhaps I need to buy myself a winder and haul out the odd balls and get awinding to make myself more organised. Always something to feast the eyes on here Christine.. thanks for the nudge to get my 'stash' organised.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's very soothing to wind yarns up (as long as you don't get it caught in the yarn guide) and I do feel very virtuous now it's done so I can recommend it! 🙂 xx

  5. The Knitting Cross Stitcher says:

    I love seeing yarn wound like that,so neat.I keep looking at yarn windersbut haven't made the leap yet.
    Love your lesf socks.

  6. Susan Rayner says:

    This time last year I went through my stash ruthlessly and donated all the wool that I was no longer sure I was going to use to our local Day Centre – apparently it lasted less than a week before it was all snapped up by some of our elderly ladies keen to get knitting (it was a garden rubbish bag full)! My sock yarn leftovers are much smaller than yours! Weird – but I am impressed with the "cakes"!! I love decluttering it is my favourite thing to do – especially in this awful weather! Thank you for yet another lovely article and I love the socks!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Wow, that's a lot of yarn you re-homed! I've been hoarding sock leftovers for at least 10 years now so there's a fair bit 😉 xx

  7. Marit Meredith says:

    Love your posts! Here it is yarn, wool for needle felting and fabric. I've made a promise to myself to dig in to the stash(es), rather than fall for the temptation to buy more… but it's hard. 😉

  8. Judith says:

    I chuckled when I saw your box of yarn cakes. I also have a yarn winder and had a great day winding my odds and ends of yarn into neat little cakes. So glad I am not alone in my yarn addiction.😄. Thanks for the tip for controlling the yarn guide on that winder. Now, where can I find some kindling!

    Judith in St. john’s ,Newfoundland

  9. Unknown says:

    What a great idea. Winder out and starting IMMEDIATELY 😁😁😋

  10. Maggie says:

    Those yarn cakes look great! I have a very limited stash too. I have to admit though that's mostly because I lack space and budget to build a big stash…

  11. Knoah says:

    I made a chevron scarf for my niece with leftover sock yarn and it was not only fun to make, it was very cool looking when it was done.

  12. Carolyn says:

    I use a thick elastic band wound round the arm of my wool winder to stop it from moving and dropping down. It works very well.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      The problem with mine is that it keeps sliding back into the winder itself – it's one that you pull out and you'd expect there to be some kind of stop on it but there isn't, which is why I ended up wedging it so that it couldn't move. I've been tempted to take the winder apart to investigate further but that probably wouldn't be a good idea! xx

  13. Anonymous says:

    I too am trying to limit my stash, and am being very stern about not buying any more yarn until I have used at least half of what I already have – which was made tougher by your last post about the no-nylon review and saw their beautiful DK colours. Mmmmm…. jumper…

    Where was I?! Ah yes – it looks to me like we have the same winder, so don't be afraid to pull that guide out quite firmly. I obviously don't want to be responsible for any damage to yours, but it does take quite a tug to get it to click it into place! Vicky from Brum

    • Winwick Mum says:

      There's nothing to click, Vicky; it looks as if there's a slot for something to click into so that it doesn't move but there isn't anything on the arm itself which would click into that slot. It's OK, the wood is working well 🙂 xx

  14. Anne C. says:

    It is not the size of my "well-considered impulse buying collection" that stops me buying at this time of year but the size of my bank account after six birthdays and Christmas in 9 weeks. And you're right about the original value of it, as I look at my stash of alpaca silk lace. You're also right about the winder although, due to the lifelong results of a hand injury, I invested in an electric one … it's brilliant. All I have to do now is find which crate/box/bag/shed/bedroom/cupboard I stored it in during one of my tidying sessions. Of course, I've found the two hand winders … lol.

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