Saturday, January 07, 2012

Reviewing the Stash

The best part about the Christmas season for me is that I usually have enough vacation saved back that I can take the week between Christmas and New Year's and spend it at home. At that point I have gotten thoroughly sick of shopping, just about everybody has gone to visit family and the neighborhood is nice and quiet and conducive to taking it easy.

After a day spent cleaning the house, I was free to putter as the spirit moved. I decided to give myself a break from the seemingly never to end scanning project and spend some time on my other two hobbies - miniatures and knitting.

One day was spent unpacking miniatures that had been swiftly stripped out of various dollhouses and removed to Austin in the post-fire period. The dollhouses were long overdue for a good cleaning, so I removed all the remaining minis and dusted and proceeded to overhaul the three largest dollhouses. The Melissa & Doug dollhouse I moved into the guest bedroom and it is in the process of being turned into a better Pink Lady Bed & Breakfast which will be presented here when some items that have been ordered to complete the effect make it here from Georgia.

The Southwestern dollhouse store, The Turquoise Moon, is still in pieces as I mull over new arrangement possibilities and work on some new display pedestals for the art room.

I did complete the renovations on my knitting store, Woolgathering. So many new pieces had been acquired in recent years that it needed a complete reorganization, beginning with a new little boy and dog waiting on the front porch for Mom to complete her shopping.

The upstairs apartment was divided into two distinct living areas. In my policy to always include an animal in every miniatures scene I construct, I really went overboard here. In addition to the little dog on the front porch, there is an animal in this dollhouse to represent each of my real pets. In this view you can see "Boo" taking a bath on the sofa and "Coco" supervising. Just to the right and out of sight is "Scout" taking a nap on the piano (which she does regularly in real life) and "Dixie" curled up in a pet bed beside the piano. "Mojo" is downstairs keeping an eye on his Mommy. Where I am, Mojo is not but a few inches away.

The store area has had numerous new knitted and crocheted items added in, and a new display/checkout counter which displays the tiny little baby items that have always been lost amongst the larger items.

This is the knitting store I always wanted in real life. A little bit of everything, from canvas for needlepoint, to ribbon and buttons, to project bags to yarn winders to luxury yarns to a group of contented knitters visiting while they knit. (What you can't see in these photos are the two tea cups, labeled "Nettie" and "Lucinda" to represent me and my mother. Believe it or not I found those two cups ready made. I don't think I've ever seen any other personalized objects that included our very unusual names in the available choices.)

Working on the knitting dollhouse inspired me to spend a day rummaging in my knitting stash. I knew I had a lot of nice yarn tucked away for a rainy day, but I was surprised to find how much of it there was. I had a lot of WIPs (works in progress) and a lot of yarn that I had tagged for specific patterns but not yet started. I decided it was time that I started working on these long neglected projects and I set myself a New Year's goal (not a resolution) to try and get one of the backlog projects finished every month of 2012. A lofty goal, but if I get even half-way there, I will feel pretty good about the situation.

On the list of WIPs, I have the red crocheted shawl I almost finished last summer but got tired of when I was just a row or two from completing, the purple mohair scarf and my third Noro scarf that is just straight knitting with a color change every two rows. The fourth scarf in the picture is one I just started last weekend when I could not resist a really unusual yarn that creates automatic ruffles as you knit. That last scarf is working up really fast, so it may be the project that gets finished for January. I would like to think I could get the shawl completed as well, but the problem is I'm not a crocheter as much as I'm a knitter and every time I go back to the shawl I have to relearn the stitches and figure out where I am. The remaining two scarves are no-brainers and will probably take up residence at the office for the odd minute of knitting here and there when I need a small break.

I was feeling pretty good about that start, but then I began building project bags for the projects hiding in my stash. I rustled up a supply of knitting bags and began isolating the yarns, the patterns and the needles that would be needed for each project. The pile grew to 8 bags with projects varying from scarves to a vest to gloves to a shawl to a very complicated afghan. The afghan I've started once and had to frog (rip it, rip it) due to a cable needle that broke losing me 5 inches worth of progress.

The pile is daunting, but I plan to forge on and see just what can be accomplished in the next year. I expect to see scarves and other small projects. I don't expect to see that afghan for awhile.

This is but a small portion of my knitter's stash. There are many more skeins of lovely yarn waiting for their turn. And you would think that having just been through the process of choosing yarns out of my stash and building project bags that I would stand firm and refuse to buy more yarn for awhile.

But you would be wrong. While I was out on an antiquing run during my Christmas vacation, I stopped by Yarnorama, a terrific yarn shop in tiny little Paige, and picked up another scarf kit and 3 skeins of a silky, faded pink ribbon yarn. Then I got an email from Hill Country Weavers last week regarding their annual inventory reduction sale. This afternoon found me digging into their bins and selecting a complimentary yarn for the pink ribbon (thinking of a shawl there), a skein of dark teal mohair (a scarf) and a fiesta colored cotton yarn that I just couldn't resist but have no idea where it will be used.

A knitter is happiest with a big yarn stash. The question right now is, just how much of a dent can I make in that stash by the end of the year?

And speaking of stashes, I also have a stash of dollhouse projects and a goal to get some of those completed this year as well. We'll talk about that later.

Genealogy, knitting and dollhouses. I never have a problem with what to do with my free time.


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