I went stash diving a couple of weeks ago, looking for a specific yarn with which to knit a long-admired pattern. Perhaps this was a mistake.
I encountered an impressive store of “just-one-skein” oddments – yarns I had coveted and justified purchasing because it was “just one skein” and that doesn’t take much space to store, right? This is a compelling argument, until you take all of those single skeins and pile them in the middle of your living room, as I did:
(Note: If your reaction to the above photo was “that’s not so bad,” or “you call THAT a stash?” your own day of reckoning may shortly be at hand. Suffice it to say that the photo actually minimizes the volume of the large pile o’ wool on my living room floor.)
The embarrassment of riches is made even worse if you are a handspinner (as I am) and you attend fiber workshops (as I do). Then, you end up with samples from spinning classes and single skeins given in goodie bags, and the whole thing starts to look overwhelming and threaten to take over every spare nook and cranny in your house (as mine has).
I did, in fact, find the sock yarn I was looking for, and I knit Jane Cochran’s “Hedgerow Socks” with the mystery skein while I pondered my excesses:
Relief for the problem of Too Much Yarn came in the form of a simple scrap scarf pattern. This is a scarf knit lengthwise in linen stitch, allowing for endlessly enthralling combinations of colors and textures. For this pattern, I have found it to be crucial to swatch and wet block the swatch to get an accurate finished gauge. Then it’s just a matter of multiplying the gauge per inch by the desired finished length, casting on, and amusing yourself with color variations and effects.
The first scarf I made was a fingering weight knit on size 4 needles, with a total cast on of 320 stitches. The colors are mainly warm neutrals with some greens and an occasional dash of a coppery metallic yarn:
I found that with this pattern, the scarves grew in length and shrank in width with blocking, so my bind off ended up being too tight and needed to be ripped and reknit. For future scarves, I am putting the last row knit on waste yarn, wet blocking, and then doing the bind off and twisting the fringe as the final step.
Encouraged by my success, I proceeded to do another scarf on size 10 needles using bulky weight handspun samples, casting on 150 stitches:
And a stitch detail:
Scarf #3 is wet blocking, awaiting the final bind off and fringe twisting, and scarves #4 and #5 are swatched. They will make barely a dent in the pile of wool. They will, however, make a handy collection of potential gifts or charity donations, and they are serving the all-important goal of keeping me productively entertained. The one-skein-reckoning was a bit of a shock, but ultimately served a positive purpose.