Posts Tagged ‘yarn stash’

shopping chez moi

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of the commercial aspects of Christmas.  I’m also a single person with a reasonable, but not lavish income, with credit card debt, a mortgage and bills to pay so I’m not in a position to buy extravagant gifts for people.   A couple of years ago I decided that I would prefer to spend my time, rather than my/Visa’s money.

Here’s the plan …

  1. Try not to spend too much money on Christmas.  Easy answer: As a result of the recent cleaning binge, it was revealed that I have EIGHT (that’s 8, eight, e-i-g-h-t, huit, ocho) Rubbermaid bins of yarn!  That’s more yarn than I can reasonably use in my lifetime.  I think I’ll be shopping chez moi for a while.
  2. Make gifts for the people I love.  That means a lot of hats and slippers, a tea towel topper thingy, dishcloths (I’ve made oodles of these), and some personalized stealth projects that won’t get talked about until after Christmas.

Holy Cow, how does one person accumulate 8 bins of yarn?  Whoops.


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I love Christmas – true Christmas, not the plastic, go-into-debt, manic Xmas that marketers would like us to believe in.  To me, Christmas should be about happiness, cheer, good-will, love,  compassion, and yes, God.  That said, it should not be about forcing others to celebrate traditions that are not their own (welcoming people to our table for friendship is another thing entirely) OR about hiding from the fact that December 25th is a big day for one part of the population.

But it comes with a lot of pressure –  to decorate, to get the right gifts, to get the right gifts on TIME, to spend money, to be HAPPY.  It is such a whirlwind that if you aren’t actually happy during Christmas, there is something wrong with you.  The malls are full of grumpy, stressed out people and it just sucks the happy out of everything.  No wonder there is so much depression.

I’m glad my family values (and I hope, prefers) homemade and thoughtful gifts.  Dad once gave me a plunger (something I needed) with a Puffin Head on top that he had cut out of a peice of wood.  Most of the time it is a toilet paper holder and it reminds me of a happy day with my Dad.  How cool is that? 

That brings us back to the pressure part of Christmas… I’m a crafty person who likes to make all of my gifts.   The thing is, it is the end of October  and I’m only now deciding what I’m going to make for people. 

Why do I do this?  Why, why, why??? 

Last year I made winter hats for the men and scarves for the ladies.    My plan for 2009: slippers for as many people as I can make them for, plus this neat pattern for felted bags that JBW suggested for my sisters and Mom, and maybe a few others, assuming I can make them without breaking my washing machine.  Or, I could try a round of Clapotis which is beautiful.  Then there is Colonnade,  Fern Glade, Fishy (I made one last year but it was too big for D so owe him a smaller one), Vortex, Cables & Bits, the old fallback Centre Square, oooo, I forgot about Slingshot, and Anouk.  Oh goodness, I’m overwhelmed again!

Here’s to a peaceful and stress-free Christmas this year.  May we all avoid the mall as much as possible (whilst still keeping the economy moving).

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I love second hand stores.  Buying new stuff is important for things like undies, shoes and white shirts (butter stains are a pain).  For pretty much everything else, second hand stuff ROCKS!   There are some real treasures out there (like Principles of Knitting that goes for $100 on eBay, but I paid $1.99) and all you have to do is look. 

Second hand stores can be overwhelming.  Here are some strategies:

  1. Find a store that sorts thier merchandise well and that has lots of turnover.  My favourite is Value Village, a store that affiliates itself with a chartity – here in my hometown it is the Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline.   They get a massive amount of stuff and they SORT it by item, colour, and size.  
  2. Know what you’re looking for before you go.  Educate yourself on the stuff you’re likely be drawn to.  I’d have walked past Principles of Knitting if I didn’t know what it was. 
  3. Know what is in your closet already – I saw a study that people unconciously repeat purchases.  I’m an unwitting example – this spring I counted 12 red sweaters and 14 pairs of tan pants.  Clearly, I’m in a (bad fashion) rut.  And I spent too much and just ended up donating them back to the store – some with tags!   Not a good budget or storage move.
  4. Know what is in your knitting stash.  Some stores have a yarn section.  Impossible to resist, right? 
    • Pay attention to mystery yarn (I prefer wool, so I open the bag and break the yarn to see if it breaks easily or if it is too scratchy.  If it doesn’t break, there is a lot of acrylic in there and I’m not interested.  Once you’re home, you can (carefully!) do a fibre burn test to get a bit more information before starting your project.)  
    • There is often a lot of yarn in small quantities.   Good for small projects but not so good for larger ones. 
    • Give it a sniff – is it musty or smokey? 
    • If you can find yarn with a ball band, you’re golden.  Buy it if you like it.  Yesterday I picked up two balls of On Your Toes Bamboo Sock yarn.  I had already admired the yarn at Yarn Forward, but couldn’t afford it.  I got the bag for $3.99.  I expect it will turn into something for Christmas. 
  5. Know what is in your knitting tool kit too!  As far as tools go, it helps to have a needle gauge and a knowledge of what you have.  I’ve got 5 – 6 sets of 4.5 mm needles because I couldn’t remember if I needed them.  I think that’s enough.
  6. Think about your purchases before you hand over your money.  Yes, that slightly scratchy yarn is pretty in the store and there are four bags of it.  It is not a bargain unless you actually plan to use it.  $5 here and there isn’t a big deal, but it is a waste if you aren’t going to use it.

I’ve found some of my best possessions in second hand stores.  My Clapotis shawl was a from a VV find… mohair, wool, acrylic blend in the softest, prettiest light blue.  I wear it often and I love it.  I also spent $3 on the yarn.  It is a good thing.

Shop on my friends.  See you at the Village.

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